What inspired you to start WITS?
It started with a need in the community for a local seminary option for young women. It was 1996, Mr. and Mrs. Marvin Itzkowitz approached the Rosh Hayeshiva, Rav Yaakov Weinberg זצ”ל, with the idea of starting a seminary in Baltimore. Rav Weinberg agreed that creating a seminary in Baltimore was a necessity. He not only gave his bracha, but also gave guidance during the Seminary’s initial development. Rav Weinberg directed the Itzkowitzs to enlist me to become the Menaheles and to also involve Mr. and Mrs. Shlomo Spetner, who he knew were dedicated to girls’ chinuch. Dr. Aviva Weisbord, A”H who was passionate about high quality chinuch, took on the leadership role as President.
While still in the planning stages, we realized the need for our students to receive college credits not only for general studies courses but for Limudei Kodesh subjects as well. This led to a long and productive collaboration with Neve Yerushalim’s Maalot program which had developed a comprehensive program for obtaining college credit for Kodesh and Chol courses.
What would you say, are some of WITS’ greatest accomplishments over the last 25 years?
The achievements of our graduates are our greatest accomplishment. Over 2,000 alumnae have benefited from the strong Torah environment, guided by our Rabbanim and Mechanchos and surrounded by their friends. Those young women are raising the next generation of Klal Yisroel, helping to support their families, and having a positive impact within their communities. They are our nachas and pride!
What makes WITS different than other frum colleges?
I think the biggest differentiator is our strong blend of seminary and college – we not only provide college courses in a frum setting, we provide a high level and relevant Kodesh curriculum, affording our students the ability to expand and strengthen their foundation in Avodas Hashem. WITS also offers unparalleled support and guidance to our students. Between the one-on-one academic advisement, career counseling, to the professional development programs run throughout the year, students are guided on a pathway ensuring a smooth transition from seminary in Eretz Yisrael through graduation at WITS.
In what ways has WITS changed over the years to adapt to the community’s needs?
WITS (then known as Maalot) began with both a first year and second year program. Classes were small, there was a dormitory for out-of-town girls, and first year students participated in an unforgettable Israel trip. Those were incredible years of growth. As it turned out, after several years, the demand for a first-year seminary program was not large enough to be sustainable. We therefore shifted priorities to focus exclusively on a robust degree granting program. We continue to expand our areas of study in line with the fields that are of interest to our student body. Due to STEM offerings in our local high schools, there has been a greater interest in the sciences and WITS has expanded its programs to meet these needs. We have recently completed the construction of new state-of-the-art science laboratories so that our students can pursue degrees in the health sciences on our own campus.
Additionally, our innovative Career Mentorship program pairs alumnae and students within the same field. This new program has helped students to network, obtain internships, and secure employment in their chosen professions.
What does WITS hope to accomplish in the next 25 years?
With Hashem’s help we hope to continue to grow. WITS started off with just 24 students in 1998 and now Baruch Hashem in 2023, we are servicing 188 students – 91 on-campus, 48 Dual HS/College Enrollment and 48 participating in our Israel Study Abroad Program (ISAP). We are currently in the process of strengthening our accreditation in order to offer the highest level of college accreditation available.
We are continuing our fundraising efforts in order provide high quality education and to offer institutional scholarships so that more young women can benefit from our programs. We hope the community will partner with us in our upcoming campaign to support us in the mission to provide Torah-centered higher education for the young women of our community.