Apr 11, 2018
College Announces Major Measure

Dr. Rudy Crew, President of Medgar Evers College in Crown Heights, tells COLlive.com he will accept Yeshiva and Seminary credits towards a degree.

By COLlive reporter

Medgar Evers College, a senior college of The City University of New York (CUNY), located in Crown Heights will accept and transfer Yeshiva and Seminary credits towards one's degree.

This major development will allow men and women who learned in the Orthodox Jewish education system to pursue baccalaureate and associate degrees as part of the OPAL program.

People involved in the effort told COLlive.com this move had done following a 3-year effort between community activists and heads of the college that was established in 1970.

The college will be hosting an Open House for members of Crown Heights Jewish community on Tuesday, April 17th, from 6-9pm.

Ahead of the announcement, Dr. Rudy Crew, President of Medgar Evers, sat down to answers questions from COLlive.com, explaining why prospective students should consider it over other potential schools.

President Crew, thank you for taking the time to meet. Let us begin with understanding a little about Medgar Evers and its background.

In some ways, there are interesting parallels. This college was both named after and grew out of the Civil Rights era. The college was named after Medgar Evers who was slain during that era. Ageing in this era drove my own interest in civic advocacy that led me to take on roles like the President of the Black Student Union at my college. It was a time where it was all about community investment and community involvement. Creating opportunities for people who were left behind in the American Dream. Now this work is framed as social justice, but in reality, it started out as civil rights. Where people, who are trying to improve upon democracy, are having to concern themselves with civil rights at large. Whether it be here in Brooklyn or around the world. It is really about what Medgar stood for- the right for people not only to have access to college but high-quality schooling, high-quality medical care, high-quality opportunities that are available for them to enter the economy. That is what college is. That is what we try to do. Thatís how we define ourselves in the space we want to occupy by going forward.

A lot of readers would be wondering why MEC is interested in accommodating Jewish students and making them welcome.

We have long since needed to have a conversation in higher-ed, not necessarily just at Medgar about the incredible set of experiences/life experiences that people bring long before they matriculate into a degree program or a college. That is to say, they have a great deal of experience, and we should be looking at ways to convert these intro credits, and OPAL does just that. It particularly gives older students an opportunity to feel that the mountain they have to climb is not that high from the standpoint of their college earned credit. Getting them as close to and as quickly into a degree track as they possibly can. So the program really serves to find and grant credit for life experiences. I know, some faculty have been really strong advocates for this within the college for some time. We need to do it. It makes complete sense to me that people having rich professional cultural, and in some cases, military experiences have got to be codified in a way that transacts these experiences into college credits.

How is MEC distinctive among CUNY and or private schools? Can you please discuss and describe the OPAL program, too?

Making the transaction is a unique effort in itself, but by having an institution like Medgar where the staff is willing to realize the undeniable reality that the people bring diverse intelligence to their work as a college student is even more unique. That intelligence is often overlooked. These experiences are often overlooked. And so, Medgar is a place where we're in a more holistic way of thinking of learning, where we're basically saying that we donít want to overlook it, but instead, want to count it where it can be counted, and appropriately give you the opportunity to thread the needle knowing that it is part of your lifeís fabric.
The second part of this is that Medgar is unique because it fundamentally cares about human beingís development. Itís necessarily not just about earned credit. Itís about human development. Itís about your ability to have the whole other domain of learning beyond your academic course experience. Yes, these are important, and they will lead you to have course credit, and hopefully getting you to graduate on time and so forth. But there is a whole other set of learning that we want to try and stress. There is a notion of civic learning/civic advocacy. The idea that you belong to a community. The community here at Medgar is a community where we stress the belonging of students to the Medgar family. Is it perfect? No. there are places where it falls down from time to time, but that is virtually true in any context. This isnít about being perfect.

The other domain of learning that is important to me is occupational. How are our students, upon graduation, getting a job? How helpful is the college in being able to get them a job? How is the ability to create a network for them to move into various fields whether it be law, medicine, accounting, teaching or whatever it maybe? The college actually got to create sort of a scaffolding into the world of work, and in that, there is an inherent need to learn how do I actually appreciate work? How do I understand the value of work? How do I understand what I bring to the work environment? And what are the rules of the road? These are all part of the learning that we think will be critical here.

So, in essence, Medgar is different in the sense that it has an explicit and intentional focus on these other domains of learning. So that, it is not so much about getting a degree. Itís learning the skills of entering the world, and in fact, changing the world. How you get to do that, by virtue of practicing it here, is through student government. Through students having internships. Through enabling students going to various countries and various parts of the world to do international study. All of that is what Medgar was trying to espouse as being very different.

Is the OPAL program targeted and focused only on the Jewish community?
It really is about the entire community. It is not about one particular person or persons learning or journey. Itís about how we understand the development of people. The learning they bring to the table, and how we codify that in a way that it becomes useful for them as they move through a degree program. All we're saying is A- it should be done, and B- there is a mechanism by which to do that. There is a translation from the learning that you had in working in international communities regardless of discipline, but just the cultural exchange, just the ideas that have come to the floor, these ideas are really important to grant people credit for these experiences that they had before coming to Medgar.

I understand that MEC is planning an open house to be held within the community. What is the goal/purpose of the open house?

Weíre a unique institution, and we need to reach out to the community around us to express how unique we are. Frankly, there are people within the Jewish community who donít know very much about the college, and I hope that the open house will accomplish a number of things, but the chief among them is the idea to share the knowledge about the college. The things that we offer. The ways and means we offer. The kind of people and faculty that we have. The experiences that you can get here. The uniqueness of the campus. It is about being able to do that, and the open house is a great first step.

Two years ago, there was an incident where a Jewish student was assaulted. How would you respond to concerns about the safety of Jewish students at MEC?

Sadly that did happen, but to the benefit of the college and to the credit to the students involved, the response was more powerful than the incident. The idea that a Muslim student, who observed this, was the first to beyond the list of people talking to the police about what she saw, and the willingness by which they did, thatís the sort of righteousness in which a stance was taken. It was exactly what you saw here not long ago with the March for Our Lives. Itís about people being empowered to say what is right and what is wrong, and operating off that premise. Itís not about are you Jewish, are you African American, Muslim, are you this or are you that. We are a human community long before we are any other definition. The question comes from the standpoint of our collective faith, which is are you willing to make your college have the kind of culture that arguably stands for that? Stands for the righteousness of the goodness for all people? Gives opportunity to people independently if they look or speak the same language, or pray to the same g-d? These are things that are important skills to learn. I take none of this for granted. I think people have to experience this and often times thought of it as being brave. I donít think of it as necessarily being brave, as I do it just being completely honest and righteousness in front of whoever g-d you pray too. That becomes important to us to symbolize as activists in a movement. This is a college that came out of that movement. It was about keeping the faith. It was about being dutiful to the ideal of human respect and compassion. I do not think it is very far afield from what these students did to make sure this doesnít happen again. What the administration did, what the faculty did as a way to make sure this doesnít happen again is far more compelling in my mind than the sadness of the incident that took place.

Is there a numeric goal for enrolling Jewish students?

We have a desire to bring the enrollment of the campus to something close to ten thousand students. Those students need to reflect this community. That said, it means that this is open to everybody who will express an interest in pursuing an education as part of their lives. So there is no numeric goal per group, nothing like that. But we do have a college-wide strategic sort of goal of trying to grow the college and its enrollment and were moving in that direction. The college is growing quite steadily both in number of people who are expressing interest in wanting to come, and then ultimately matriculating by virtue of actually coming.

Besides OPAL and walking distance to MEC, what else can you tell us as for why prospective students should consider MEC as their college of choice?
There are words that I would pitch. One word is family. You will belong to a family here, and a family that works for you to actually have you get to know yourself; who is not going to leave you feeling stranded and vulnerable because what you come to know is different, or is more or is better than something or somebody else, or in some way, cast you in a different light.

A second word, I would use to pitch Medgar, would be that it is rigorous. Itís going to ask you to climb the social ladder of how you come to know yourself and other people around you. Many of them do not look like you or speak your tongue, or as I said, pray to your g-d, but itís going to ask you to do that. The rigor is not necessarily just expressed in terms of academic work, that is true as well, but the rigor is going to be for you to understand who you are in the humanity in this kind of multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic environment.

The third word that I would use is rapidly changing. It mirrors the economy around us shaped in part by globalisation and technology. However, the college is really changing daily, and part of it is the human curriculum that walks in the door as students. The fastest growing population on the campus is Hispanic. So what does that mean now as to what we will have available to us in the context of the culture of this campus? What does it say as we start to see students coming from Asia? How will we start addressing the issue of more and more Jewish students coming to the campus? What does it mean for the students who are from right here in Crown Heights that are African American, but were born in the Caribbean and are coming here? It means we actually need to be comfortable being who we are in front of each other, and learning how to be part of a family.

So I think it is exponentially changing in ways that are all for the good. I think it comes with tension, and there are no ďif,Ē ďandĒ or ďbutĒ about it. But I am absolutely clear that the way forward it is through learning, and that it is led by people who really have this in their heart. This is now a matter of the heart of the campus. This is not the head talking; this is about whatís in your heart. And we will lead in the future of Medgar. We will lead with our heart, and that is what I think is the pitch for Medgar. Do you want to belong to a family that has a heart? Then come to Medgar.

There will be a concern by potential Jewish students who lack the formal background or education in areas like college-level math or reading. This fear may prevent them from applying. How would you address this concern?

Some so many students come here who actually, upon coming within their freshman year, do not have the proprietary background for whether they will participate in math, in reading, in science and or in writing to be here, and they struggle. And so what we have done is provide additional support for people who need that extra support in these content areas. This support is going to make them very successful at being able to take freshman courses. We donít do it in a way that stigmatizes people. We donít do it in a way that makes them feel inadequate in some way. It is about building their confidence. The work they will get. The kind of support they will get. The kind of counseling and guidance they will get. The kind of advisors they will get. Faculty advisors who will help them. Their tone is not the tone of an accusation; itís the tone of support. And as I said the watchword for me is family. You donít isolate someone from the family just because they do not do something in preparation for say a religious service. You simply make sure that they know how to do it next time. I really do believe that is what the ethos is for this entire campus. And as I said, weíre imperfect and itís not always true to form, but itís the idea that we are moving towards. I would pitch this as a place where this would be something where the students, coming here from Yeshivaís, are trying to figure out whether or not the college is for them, in spite the fact that there may be folks in their family who are really worried that this might not be the kind of secular education they want them to have. I would say that there are transitions in peopleís lives that they are going through, that you will need help to be able to make it to the other side. There are people here who will help you with that.

Most Read Most Comments

Opinions and Comments
wow amazing this is awesome
(4/11/2018 7:47:27 PM)
Past Student
I took courses at MEC most recently in 2002 to fulfill certification requirements in education. The experience was wonderful. One of professors, Cynthia, has since moved up in administration. I believe the school is a supportive learning environment.
(4/11/2018 8:00:17 PM)
Dr Crew is a great leader and the Jewish student body has definitely grown under his watch but true growth will only come when they start accepting a lot of yeshiva credits not just a token amount.
(4/11/2018 8:01:28 PM)
Nice Effort
Nice that they are making an effort to reach out to the Jewish Community, but note of caution to speak with a Rov and/or Mashpia before considering taking classes at secular college
(4/11/2018 9:04:05 PM)
Affordable amazing and local.
(4/11/2018 9:05:49 PM)
How many
Does anyone know the maximum amount of credits they accept?
(4/11/2018 9:18:26 PM)
Separate classes for girls and boys?
Is it going to be mixed classes?
(4/11/2018 9:43:12 PM)
Number 6
They can transfer and accept up 60 credits.
(4/11/2018 9:47:03 PM)
How many credits will they accept?
Touro accepts 48!
(4/11/2018 9:48:10 PM)
Great. Great. News
a powerful step in empowering people who might feel getting a professional degree is out of reach.
(4/11/2018 10:11:25 PM)
There are so many great frum programs, with a kosher atmosphere, offering degrees in so many areas (Touro, Cope, TTI) and who accept as many as 45 yeshiva credits, why is Medgar Evers even an option?
(4/11/2018 10:37:37 PM)
To 8
Thatís not possible, since Medgar Evers is a junior college, and you can only get an associates type of degree which is a total of 60 credits. If you can transfer 60 credits you donít need them, do you?
(4/11/2018 10:38:53 PM)
Number 9
Medgar can and is willing to accept/transfer up 60 credits.
(4/11/2018 10:39:41 PM)
this is great but are the classes separate?
(4/11/2018 11:03:12 PM)
Be aware
Of the Rebbes stance on college.
Talk to a mashpia
(4/11/2018 11:20:37 PM)
to # 13
you're asking for too much. MEC is an established college with established protocol that they are not about to change; nor should they be asked to. If you choose to go there, as opposed to an institution that has separate classes for men and women built in to their protocol, you are agreeing to abide by MEC's protocol. you'll be the guest, they, the hosts. Guests don't tell hosts how they'd like them to run their households.
(4/11/2018 11:52:09 PM)
I got my lpn license there
I really loved going there and got my lpn licence there in 2008. There were some anti semetic staff at the time who are no longer there. Classes are mixed and there were very few jews. The rebbe was not for college for most cases of those frum from birth. My friend and i who were baalei tshuva were advised to go to stern college in 1968 i think it was.
(4/12/2018 2:33:13 AM)
What is OPAL, who is best contact person?
My daughter will be going to sem next year. Can I register her in Medgar EVans before so she can get PELL grant while in sem? Any idea who at Medgar Evans or in our communiity would know how to proceed?
(4/12/2018 4:39:07 AM)
#11 Mec is 4 year school
MEC is a 4 year college education institution. The school offers multiple degree program options.
(4/12/2018 6:21:32 AM)
To #s 13, 14, 15
This is why Sarah Schnirer opened up in CH. itís local AND separate.
Besides the Rebbe was against learning inyanim
From Goyishe teachers who didnít believe in the Aibishter. So going to a frum environment solves the issue.
(4/12/2018 7:15:52 AM)
to # 11
Medgar Evers is a senior college Google it and you will see
(4/12/2018 8:08:20 AM)
School was helpful
About 15 years ago my wife earned several transferable credits toward her degree at Medgar Evers (she received her degree at Touro). It is a relatively inexpensive alternative to earning needed credits and a good resource for the community.
(4/12/2018 9:48:03 AM)
On going to College
See Likkutei Sichos, volume 15 page 43 (Hebrew version):

(My free translation)
With regards the question of going to College or University or the like: it is prohibited and dangerous (danger is worse than prohobition), the whole atmosphere of College in these times is fully permeated with Kfirah in Divine Providence, they make it seem as though there is no possibility for Divine power to intervene in the course of nature, and this is the foundation of all the studies, which is taken so much for granted that it doesn't need to even be mentioned. In most colleges they also teach content of Apikursos, Avodah Zarah etc.
And in almost all of the colleges there is no standard of Tznius, and they make fun of anyone who even tries to be Tznius, and it's well known the terrible situation in the dormitories, campuses, walkways etc.
When one claims that they can withstand the nissayon, and they'll manage not to fall, we must answer to that even a Tzaddik Gamur in the last day of his 120th year asks Hashem in Birchos HaShachar "please don't bring me to a Nissayon".

--End of Quote from The Rebbe's Sicha ---

I just wanted to add my own experience:
There was a time when I went to college, when I wasn't frum. I can tell you from my experience how much you see this in the college. Especially what the Rebbe talks about the Apikursos. There is always an underlying theme of "everything can be explained based on nature, logic etc"
It's true that some of the professors are believers in their personal lives, but even they don't communicate that in their teaching. The focus is so much on the individual, his experience, logic... What is does to you personally, especially for someone that comes from a religious background, it separates you from the state of mind of Hashgocho Protis and Emunah.
Anyone thinking of going to College should seriously re-consider their plan.
You'll have plenty of jobs and money-making opportunities without college. Many billionaires are college dropouts. You don't need a degree to thrive financially. So many people today open their own businesses and succeed, or find jobs that don't require degrees and do very well.
If you're searching for knowledge, we have such a treasure in the Torah that puts all the sciences to shame.
(4/12/2018 10:05:18 AM)
to 23
Note that the Rebbe's sichah was said/written at a time when college professors were idolized. Nowadays everyone knows that professors are not necessarily more intelligent or moral than anyone else... And the issue of tznius is a severe issue within Crown Heights itself and other frum communities. Not to excuse that, but it cannot be ignored. We're living in different times.

And we've all heard the argument about the billionaires who never went to college... That's presumably why there are so many people in Chabad living on welfare... Is that the Rebbe's vision?
(4/12/2018 12:30:55 PM)
To 24
As a current student at a City College, even if your argument that students no longer idolize professors is true, many professors are still derisive of religion and lean to the extreme left. The general atmosphere is one of G-dlessness, and the professors points of views are swallowed whole by most students.

(4/12/2018 1:37:56 PM)
As someone with credits
To everyone who has questions about this:
1: yes it is going to be mixed classes. You also walk on a mixed sidewalk in crown heights.
2:why should people go here for college when there are other "Jewish " programs? Because simply put they aren't in crown heights, you have to have a commute. Price wise it will be more cost effective to go to a CUNY school.
3: to the dude who posted the sicha about going to college, bravo. None of us have seen that. (Sarcasm, and no I didn't learn that in college.) The concept of not going to college before one is married is the main point. There are young married couples that could be living in crown heights and help themselves with a stable future helping them work towards a parnassa.
4: going to take college classes is very different than going to college. If you leave home, go stay in a dorm than no kidding it will have a bad influence. However, if someone can live in crown heights, in a frum environment and get use out of the college credits, it makes complete sense to me.

Different people do different things. Working in the world with non frum people is a regular thing. If you want to be in a bubble and only deal with frum people, be my guest. But don't say other people can't.

If you want me to go to a frum school I'll gladly let you pay for it :)
(4/12/2018 2:14:20 PM)
to 26
I am willing to sponsor your tuition in a Frum school. Send me a Email Yitzi1992@gmail.com
(4/12/2018 4:25:24 PM)
To 26
Well Said.
(4/12/2018 5:08:33 PM)
To 24
There are many people living on Welfare. Not sure what gives you the impression that college solves that problem. There are many many unemployed college graduates.

There is a letter from the Rebbe printed in Letter and Spirit in which the Rebbe specifically advises someone to make use of government programs. It wasn't the Rebbe'so 'vision' per se, but it wasn't something the Rebbr saw as demeaning or verboten in any way.

(4/12/2018 7:07:46 PM)
To 29
Spoken like someone who grew up with no shame about taking charity... The rest of the civilized world looks at welfare and food stamps as a last resort and something to work as hard as possible to get off of as soon as one possibly can. Only in the charedi world -- including Chabad -- and certain social groups the charedi and Chabad worlds might turn their noses down upon, is welfare looked upon as s Brachah lchatchila. It's useless to try and pretend this isn't s widespread malady in Chabad. And it's useless to pretend that college is not the answer. You don't want to go to a non Jewish college, fine. But the sichah you quoted may or may not apply in the same way today, especially in a day college when one is not dorming.
(4/12/2018 8:40:59 PM)
shabsi chicago
we are proud of our grandson, Avi Lesches, for his significant role in implementing this shiduch with Medger Evens.
Hesha and Shabsi Turner
(4/12/2018 10:45:53 PM)
26 and 27
I'd love to know how that exchange between those two evolves. Could you #27 update us? Maybe with a new post entry on COL? Called #26 on his probably not thought thru challenge.
(4/13/2018 12:31:30 AM)
Does Medgar Degrees worth in the market after graduation ?
What are the Ratings for this college ?
Jewish kids probably needed to upgrade these ratings and job market after it .... or college is looking for nice chunk of income .....
(4/14/2018 10:51:40 PM)
This is in response to the last few posts trying to defend going to College.
When I translated The Rebbe's Sicha above, I translated "these times" for The Rebbe's words "BeDoiroseinu Eileh". I should have given a more literal translation: "In these generations".
I'm sorry for making the comparison, and I'm not judging anyone, and we all have free will, but frankly: saying that The Rebbe's Sicha on College applied only during the time The Rebbe said the Sicha (Mugah from years 5726 and 5737 - 1966 and 1977) - is just like saying that The Torah applied only to the Yidden of that generation and that today we are "more advanced" - which is what Reform people say.

And as I mentioned, I went to college (only 12 years ago), and saw later when I became frum and learned The Rebbe's Sicha how true it is. And someone else who in college NOW mentioned here in the comments their own testimony how the students gullibly swallow their non-believer professors narrative.

All these claims about frum people having to use welfare if they don't go to college, or trying to endorse taking college classes as opposed to going to a dormitory are just funny.
Go take a look at statistics. I know many people who have graduated and don't have jobs. Some people return from interviews rejected because they are "over qualified" for a job. For every person in Crown Heights who is on welfare, you have another person who has a job or owns a business. Go do some real statistics.
(4/15/2018 4:43:07 AM)
The Talmud obligated a father to teach his son a profession . The consequence related there is that if he doesn't, the son will probably resort to crime in order to make money . That is why going to school to learn a profession should be a priority. If chabad has issues with universities, then let them open their own trade schools. I think it is ridiculous to say not to goto university, but not to provide any alternatives. Also , there is such opposition to secular studies that lead to a profession. But when our kids are feeling under the weather who do they goto? A Dr.. When We do out taxes we goto a _____ ? Accountant . We do our taxes right?
(4/17/2018 8:08:02 AM)
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