Campus Climate Initiative

Rabbi Sandra (400x333)

Hillel International’s Campus Climate Initiative (CCI) works collaboratively with higher education administrators to ensure a positive campus climate in which Jewish students feel comfortable expressing their identity and values, free of antisemitism, harassment, or marginalization. The CCI model involves partnership between the college or university administration, the local Hillel, and the CCI team. It is based on the premise that key administrative leaders play an essential role in effecting broad-based educational and policy change on campus, and that the university-Hillel partnership can lead toward positive changes that will benefit both Jewish students and all students.

The CCI team works with cohort campuses to support them in:

  • Gathering data to better understand the current climate for Jewish students on campus 

  • Training and empowering university administration and staff to understand the needs of Jewish students, the diversity of the Jewish community, and the current challenges of campus antisemitism

  • Creating and adopting best practice policies, procedures and programs to address antisemitism and foster a positive campus climate for Jewish students and all students

The 2021-22 CCI cohort includes: 

  • Binghamton University
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • Elon University
  • Florida Atlantic University
  • Goucher College
  • Ithaca College
  • Kennesaw State University
  • New York University
  • Northwestern University
  • Rutgers University
  • San Diego State University
  • San Jose State University
  • Stony Brook University
  • Temple University
  • Tufts University
  • University of Connecticut
  • University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • University of Wisconsin System
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)

The inaugural 2021 cohort includes:

  • DePaul University
  • San Francisco State University
  • The George Washington University
  • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • The University of Texas at Austin
  • The University of Utah

For more information, contact Rebecca Russo at rrusso@hillel.org.

The CCI Team: 

Mark Rotenberg
Vice President of University Initiatives & Legal Affairs

Mark Rotenberg

Mark currently is Hillel International’s Vice President for University Initiatives and Legal Affairs, working with university leaders to ensure a campus environment in which every Jewish student can feel comfortable learning about and identifying with their heritage. Mark has spent most of his professional career on university campuses, serving for many years as the general counsel of the University of Minnesota and of Johns Hopkins University. In those positions, he provided strategic counsel and policy advice to university governing boards, presidents, chancellors and other senior officers. A seasoned university educator, Mark currently is an Adjunct Professor of Law at American University in Washington, has taught at the University of Minnesota for over 20 years, and was a visiting professor of law at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Mark was a partner at Dorsey & Whitney in Minneapolis and special counsel at WilmerHale in Washington, focusing on higher education issues including free speech, academic freedom, campus protests and academic boycotts. He has argued and won cases in the US Supreme Court and many other judicial forums, and has authored numerous publications on legal, historical and Jewish topics. Mark received his B.A. from Brandeis University, and M.A., M.Phil., and J.D. from Columbia Law School and the Columbia University Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.

Rebecca Russo
Executive Director of the Campus Climate Initiative

Rebecca Russo

Rebecca directs the Campus Climate Initiative, working collaboratively with campus administrators and local Hillels across North America to ensure a positive campus climate for Jewish students. Rebecca was previously the Director of Campus Engagement at Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), where she partnered with campus administrators around the country to engage religious diversity productively, led interfaith strategic planning consultations and trainings, oversaw campus grants, and launched the Campus Interfaith Inventory, a national institutional survey. Prior to IFYC, Rebecca worked in Educational Resources and Organizational Development at UJA-Federation of New York and was the Doppelt Director of Engagement at Northwestern University's Fiedler Hillel.  Rebecca holds a B.A. in Middle East Studies from Brown University and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.