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

Hillel is now seeking applications for our 2021-22 cohort of approximately 8-12 institutions. The cohort will launch with a two-part virtual event:

Part 1: Tuesday, August 24, 11:30am - 3:30pm ET
Part 2: Friday, October 8, 11:30am - 3:30pm ET 

Applications are due July 19, 2021.

Learn more and apply now!

For more information, contact Rebecca Russo at

The CCI Team: 

Mark Rotenberg
Vice President of University Initiatives & Legal Affairs

Mark Rotenberg

Mark oversees the Campus Climate Initiative, working across the U.S. with Hillel professionals and higher education leaders to ensure a campus environment in which every student can feel comfortable learning about and identifying with Judaism and Israel. He also oversees the Israel Fellows Program and the Building Israel Connections Engagement Project (BICEP). Mark has spent most of his professional career on university campuses, serving for many years as the general counsel at the University of Minnesota and at Johns Hopkins University.  In those positions, he provided strategic counsel and policy advice to university 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 law firm in Minneapolis and special counsel at WilmerHale in Washington, focusing on higher education issues including free speech, campus protests, and academic boycotts.  He has argued and won cases in the US Supreme Court and many other judicial forums.  Mark has long been passionately engaged with the Jewish and pro-Israel communities, serving in leadership roles for AIPAC, Camp Ramah, Jewish day schools and synagogues, and has lived in and visited Israel on numerous occasions. Mark received his B.A. from Brandeis University, an 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.