American Jewish University seeks a partner to share its Los Angeles campus


(JTA) — American Jewish University is looking for a roommate. 

The Los Angeles Jewish institution announced March 25 that it is seeking a “compatible” partner to occupy underused portions of its 35-acre ridgetop campus in the ritzy neighborhood of Bel Air overlooking the Santa Monica Mountains. 

The university envisions sharing its Sunny & Isadore Familian Campus with a “strategic partner,” such as another university, school or nonprofit organization, “that aligns with AJU in mission and values.”

The decision to open up its prized real estate for outside groups comes as the university considers its finances and priorities, according to AJU President Dr. Jeffrey Herbst.

“The Board of Directors believes that it is important to explore whether we could better allocate resources to serve our mission, as we continue to invest in our educational programs and grow our digital capabilities,” Herbst said in a statement. 

The Familian campus has been the home of the institution since 1977, when it was known as the University of Judaism. The campus features office space, lecture halls, dormitories and spacious grounds in the heart of Los Angeles, right off one of the city’s most important highways. The campus libraries house important collections of rare books and manuscripts. 

A second university property, the 2,200-acre Brandeis-Bardin Campus on the city’s rural outskirts, is not affected by the announcement. 

Herbst said the university has evolved as a result of the pandemic and is maneuvering to position itself “for the future long after this crisis recedes.” The goal is to bring back in-person instruction while continuing to offer some of the online programs that were developed over the past year. 

The university is known for its continuing education offerings focused on Jewish topics, as well as its rabbinic studies and graduate program in education. Last year, the university launched a business school and announced one of its largest gifts ever, a $2.5 million grant to establish a center focused on Jewish engagement and inclusion. 

AJU used to offer an undergraduate degree, but the program was discontinued in 2018 after failing to attract a substantial enough number of students.

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