Main Campus Named for Wilf Family

Yehoshua Levine

Yeshiva University's Uptown Campus will now sport a new name - the Wilf Campus - in recognition of the Wilf family's $12 million pledge to the University that was finalized two months ago, the Department of Communications and Public Affairs and the Office of Development have officially revealed. The campus renaming, which is permanent, will be accompanied by a formal ceremony in the fall aimed at publicizing the early stages of an Uptown Campus beautification plan, to be financed by the Wilf family's generous gift.

As part of Yeshiva University's $400 million capital campaign, the Wilf family - specifically, Joseph and Leonard Wilf, CEO and President, respectively, of Garden Homes Management Corp. - pledged a $12 million gift designated for the physical enhancement of the uptown campus and for student scholarships.

"The Wilf family, longtime Yeshiva University supporters, became the tenth family to join the highest level of support in our capital campaign with this gift," revealed University Vice President of Development Daniel T. Forman. "And Yeshiva was pleased to recognize this extraordinary generosity by naming the Main Campus in [honor of the donors]."

The bulk of the Wilf gift, roughly $10 million, has been earmarked for one major purpose: to finance a thorough aesthetic renovation of Yeshiva's uptown campus. "The monetary commitment will underwrite a campus beautification," Forman pointed out. "For the next few months, the Offices of Development, Public Relations, and Facilities Management will be working with a landscape architectural firm in reviewing artists' renditions of what the Wilf family hopes the Main Campus will look like in a year or two from now. Facilities will be controlling the money and supervising the changes once construction begins."

Specifically, Forman explained that the Wilf pledge will subsidize campus enhancements both in the near future and in the long run. The short-term goals of the gift include, among other things, making Tenzer Gardens more accessible by opening up the front gates and by increasing its courtyard area, and redecorating the landscape of the Danciger Quadrangle, the grassy area in front of the Max Stern Athletic Center. In order to acknowledge the donors and publicize their munificence, "signage and banners with the name 'Wilf Campus' will be part of this new visual look of the campus," said Director Public Affairs Peter L. Ferrara.

Part of the money will also be reserved as a long-term endowment to provide for much-needed infrastructural changes on the main campus. "In addition to the funds that will finance immediate campus beautification, a portion of the [Wilf gift] will be set aside as an endowment for capital improvements from wear and tear usage," Forman continued. "This will include improvements in the elevator system, in the air conditioning and venting systems, and in general building utility."

As of now, Ferrara and his colleagues are just beginning to spread the news of the campus naming. In an e-mail sent to the entire undergraduate body on February 14th, Ferrara urged students "[to] please refer, in all instances, to the Wilf Campus and be certain that all printed material including but not limited to advertisements, invitations, letterheads, and all other publications refer to the Wilf Campus." Indeed, students are just starting to realize that their campus was named by viewing documents with the new title. "I picked up my RA application today and saw 'Yeshiva University - Wilf Campus' on it, and that's how I discovered that we're no longer just the Main Campus," recalled a Yeshiva College Sophomore who requested anonymity.

Finding out two months late that their school is now located on the Wilf Campus, however, some students have expressed frustration that they weren't notified of the naming earlier. "Yeshiva did a bad job of publicizing everything," Yeshiva College Junior Yair Amsel remarked. "They never officially announced the donation nor the campus naming, and they never told us what the money would be used for. I only found out about everything after seeing a Sy Syms flier [referring to the Main Campus as the Wilf Campus] and asking other people what had happened."

According to Forman, however, both the Office of Development and the Office of Communications and Public Affairs were perfectly satisfied with allowing the news to gradually filter out to the Yeshiva community, instead of officially announcing it. "Since the Wilf pledge will be bankrolling campus beautification, we'd decided that we're not going to formally publicize [the campus naming] until at least one of the projects will be completed," Forman explained. "This will probably happen in the fall [of 2002], at which time we'll hold a formal ceremony or celebration. But until then, the news will spread just by word of mouth or through signs." Ferrara did mention, though, that his office would be spreading the news to some degree in the general press, even before the completion of any campus construction projects.

Besides for the $10 million bulk designated for campus enhancement, the Wilf family earmarked an additional $2 million to contribute to both merit and need-based scholarships for prospective Yeshiva students. "In the past, the Wilfs have given money for both types of scholarships," one administrator noted. "This additional sum is an extension of their generosity in these areas."

The naming marks the second time that Yeshiva's flagship property has borne an honorary title. Years ago, the Main Campus was referred to as the Joel Jablonsky Campus, however the name was dropped after circumstances caused a rift between Yeshiva and the Jablonsky family.