Message from the President

Barb Sander

Dear BNC Members:

As I begin my second year as your National President, I want to give you an update on all that has occurred in the last year. Lots has changed.....and much remains the same! Charles Darwin said, "It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change." And Tuli Kupferberg said," When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge."

Brandeis National Committee (BNC) is in a wonderful, new world....but it took effort to get here! BNC lost some staff when Brandeis offered early retirement to anyone on staff throughout the university, over the age of 60, who had worked 10 years or more. Now things have turned around! We are fortunate that Tom Hutchings went from part time to full time, that Beth Bernstein and M'Lissa Brennan do the work of many people, that Tamar Vogel continues to work on social media for our chapters and to promote BNC, that volunteers help in the office, and that we have hired Dania Khandaker as Department Coordinator.

And then we moved! The physical move of the staff from Goldfarb Library to the Development office, while temporarily delaying some work getting done, has ultimately benefitted BNC. Many of the Development staff now assist BNC with various tasks. And BNC is a fundraising organization....that is our mission for the university....we belong in Development, but will remain a separate unit, much like the Alumni group. We now report directly to Myles Weisenberg, and he, and senior management of the University, could not be stronger advocates for BNC. For example, President Fred Lawrence will be speaking to BNC in FL at a prestigious event. And the university is investing in new study guides, and increasing faculty visits to chapters.

In addition, Brandeis and BNC have invested in Slightly Mad, a well-respected, national marketing firm. We can already see good results from their campaign, as BNC membership, that had been declining, has now reversed, so that we are running even for a second year.

In June we welcomed several new members to our National Executive Committee (NEC.) They are all full of ideas and energy, and contributed to a very successful meeting.

This year we have strengthened our Region Teams. Besides a Region President, each team has 4 Vice Presidents, covering Membership, Leadership Development, Fundraising, and Learning Opportunities, and these VPs will act as conduits between their counterparts on the NEC and the chapters, better connecting the parts of BNC, and sharing best practices. We have thus bolstered our organization's structure. These Region Presidents will be coming to campus for training next month, and they and their region teams will help strengthen chapters.

Your contributions to our Sustaining the Mind campaign have helped Brandeis scientists advance their research. To name just a few.....Professors Suzanne Paradis and Avi Rodel are unraveling the molecular mechanics of ALS, to understand its genetic basis. Professor Eve Marder's lab has built a new theoretical model to understand how cells monitor and self-regulate their properties in the face of continual turnover of cellular components. Professors Dagmar Ringe and Gregory Petsko led a team of researchers from Brandeis and Columbia University Medical Center and Weill Cornell Medical College in taking a new approach to Alzheimer's research. Instead of looking at how to prevent the plaque that clumps around neurons, interfering with brain function, they are looking at ways to clean it up. We need your continued support of our campaign in the coming year!

But all volunteer groups evolve. Because I want BNC to remain relevant to Brandeis, I have asked Myles to co-chair a Think Tank team with me, comprised of both university staff and BNC volunteers, to manage the changes, and to insure that BNC remains a strong, viable, contributing partner of Brandeis University.

So while we have been through some changes, what remains constant is the strength of BNC as an organization, and its commitment to support Brandeis University. BNC is also a wonderful support to its members, providing a source of learning, friendships and fun!

I am sending grateful thanks to all BNC members who work so hard in our chapters and regions, and on our national are what make BNC so successful.

L 'Shana Tovah.....Happy New year......may this coming year bring blessings to all of you in the BNC family!


Barbara Sander
National President