Letter from the Editor
Many people suffer from the misconception that summer is a drowsy time on college campuses, a period of suspended animation. Our campus was particularly enlivened this summer by the news that George Washington University law school dean Frederick Lawrence had been named Brandeis’ eighth president.
In communications, we were also responding to another important event: the completion of an online readership survey. The random sampling of almost 6,400 alumni turned up some interesting results and even a bit of news to warm an editor’s heart.
The good news is that most of you loyally read each issue of this magazine — a healthy 83 percent — and almost as many of you rate the magazine as good or even excellent. But you also made it clear that many of you — 45 percent — are not spending all that much time within these pages.
What would persuade you to linger longer? Perhaps, the survey showed, more coverage of political, social and scientific issues that involve Brandeis people. Ditto for stories about research and scholarship. And please, you told us, don’t shy away from occasional articles that involve controversy on university-related issues.
As the new editor in chief (I was previously editor of Catalyst, the university’s erstwhile research magazine, which has been folded into this publication), I have been working with veteran editor Theresa Pease and designer Eson Chan to give you more of what you want: a rich reading experience showcasing faculty and their scholarship, alums and their exploits, students and campus news and programs.
With this issue, we are launching a new design, a new companion website and a new name: Brandeis Magazine. The new website permits you to read class notes online, share articles and discover additional books by Brandeis faculty and alumni. We believe that the magazine, in print and online, is a vital link to you, and one worth strengthening, so we’re restoring publication to three issues a year.
Browse inside and you’ll find more coverage of science and research, arts and culture, and a new column, “Turning Points,” in which we will invite alumni authors to share their pivotal experiences and “aha” moments.
In the cover article, science writer Deborah Halber ’80 profiles Liane Carter ’76 as she reflects on life with her autistic son, Mickey, now a 17-year-old facing an uncertain adulthood. Weaving into the story the research of Brandeis neuroscientists and social policy experts, Halber offers a vivid glimpse into this excruciatingly complex spectrum of disorders.
Heller professor Susan Curnan offers an insider’s account of her childhood at Val-Kill, Eleanor Roosevelt’s country home in New York, describing how her early adventure there led her both ineluctably and unexpectedly to Brandeis, to walk again in the footsteps of the woman she calls ER.
The lifework of Brandeis faculty member Sharon Pucker Rivo ’61 becomes cinematic in a feature about the Brandeis-based National Center for Jewish Film. Rivaling the unlikely plot of a Molly Picon film, the story recounts how the largest collection of Jewish moving images outside of Israel grew from a basement cache of fragments from 30 old Yiddish films.
I hope you enjoy this magazine — really a work in progress — and respond with comments, criticisms, suggestions and, yes, even an occasional compliment. It’s a daunting task to produce a magazine for an audience of overachieving Brandeis graduates. (A whopping 76 percent of survey responders hold advanced degrees.) I look forward to hearing from you.
Laura Gardner, P'12
Editor in Chief