Dr. Wexler

Dr. Wexler

Robert Wexler, who has helmed American Jewish University in Bel-Air for 25 years, is stepping down next June, the university announced Tuesday.

Wexler, 66, has been affiliated with the university since he entered its predecessor school, the University of Judaism, as a 17-year-old student. He joined the staff in 1978 as assistant dean of students, rising through the administration until he was named president in 1992.

Wexler guided the university through its 1997 merger with the Brandeis Bardin Institute near Simi Valley, and the rebranding of the school as American Jewish University. He also oversaw the launch of the first full rabbinical school on the West Coast and established a continuing education center, which last year had an enrollment of more than 12,000.

The school’s endowment grew from $5 million to $100 million during Wexler’s tenure, a substantial sum for a university with only four degree programs and 170 full-time students.

“Leading such a remarkable institution for so long has been a great honor,” Wexler said in an emailed statement. “I truly appreciate the dedication of the men and women on the AJU staff and faculty, all of whom mean so much to me. It is they who have made AJU a major force in American Jewish life.”

The university’s board will conduct a nationwide search for a successor, the retirement announcement said.

Economy, education, energy and transportation reporter Howard Fine can be reached at hfine@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.