As the new Executive Director at University of Southern California (USC) Hillel, I have been told quite a bit over the last few months that I am at the helm of a "transformative Hillel." Visit our campus one afternoon and you will see there's no doubt about it, there is something exciting happening here. USC offers incredible opportunities for our students on a daily basis. Once reputed to be a University that presented challenges for Jewish students, the community at USC offers resources and opportunities to express Jewish identity through academics, Jewish ritual practice, leadership training, research, politics, social engagement and volunteer programs. Our Hillel is well integrated into all areas of Jewish life on campus, yet we are a small operation. With limited staff, we are blessed to have incredibly committed and knowledgeable members of our Board of Directors, dynamic student interns and a newly formed student leadership board. As I look ahead at the possibilities our Hillel faces in the future, I am confident that we are setting the foundation to be seen as a model Hillel achieving excellence and growth at a pace competitive with the needs of our students.
The USC Hillel that I see in the future is not only tied in to all areas of campus life, but it is seen as the key stakeholder for all things related to Jewish identity, continuity and community building at the University. As the campus grows physically, Hillel will be positioned more centrally and our building will need to adapt to accommodate this growth as well. We will be piloting new models of innovative programs, facilitating dialogue that pushes new boundaries as our students make formative choices that will impact the greater community. We will have the infrastructure to say "what resources do you need?" without thinking twice when approached with a new idea. We will continue to be recognized by community organizations as not only a strong partner, but as a resource to help connect the community with the immeasurable value of the minds of our students.
You might read this and think, "Hillel does most of that already," but I am a believer that transformation happens deep in the core of the organization. The Executive Directors of USC Hillel that came before me worked hard and achieved greatness. Their success positions us to move forward in a subtle and powerful way. We have a strong relationship with our campus and community partners, but those relationships will always need to continue to grow. The Trojan family is a mighty one, and we need to do a better job connecting the Jewish Trojan Alumni all over the world back to the students currently on campus. Our student leadership board is brand new, and will experience growing pains, but once it is solidified it will be seen as the best opportunity for leadership training and development on campus. Our staff, Board of Directors and community of supporters will continue to grow and have more opportunities to be connected to Hillel through our art gallery, Jewish Alumni Association and events bridging alumni with students.
What will it look like when this vision is complete? USC will be the destination on the west coast for Jewish students seeking a private education with expectations of excellence, creativity and innovation and the comfort of knowing that their Hillel will continue to join the University in offering them all of those things. I can tell you one thing with certainty- when our current vision is achieved, USC Hillel will be seen as positioned to vision the next stage of its growth, and the one after that - and I'm excited to be a part of those processes, too.
Bailey London is the new Allen & Ruth Ziegler Executive Director of the USC Hillel Foundation. Bailey previously served as the Director of Emerging Leadership and Next Gen Initiatives at the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County.