Alumni from around the world returned to campus last October to mark the 55th anniversary of the Wien International Scholarship Program (WISP).
Current Wien Scholars joined more than 100 WISP graduates and members of the Wien family to pay tribute to Lawrence A. and Mae Wien, who established the program in 1958 to further international understanding and enrich Brandeis’ cultural and intellectual life.
In his welcoming remarks at the anniversary dinner, President Frederick Lawrence commended the Wien family and President Abram Sachar for their vision in establishing the program. Noting that 21 percent of today’s Brandeis students are international, hailing from nearly 130 countries, Lawrence credited the Wiens with enhancing the cultural experience of all Brandeis students.
“We are in the business of changing lives, and that is a sacred business,” Lawrence said. “That is especially true about the Wien International Scholarship Program.”
Keynote speaker Olaf Olafsson ’85, a native of Iceland who is a Brandeis trustee and executive vice president of international and corporate strategy at Time Warner, expressed his gratitude to Brandeis and the Wiens for enabling him to study at the university. Olafsson, who majored in physics at Brandeis, accepted a job in the media and entertainment field after meeting Michael Schulhof, PhD’70, then an executive at Sony.
The two-day event included panel discussions featuring Wien scholars and alumni, and a farewell brunch on Sunday morning. Special guests included Lawrence and Mae Wien’s daughters, Isabel Malkin and Dinny Morse, as well as their husbands, Peter Malkin and Lester Morse, all of whom continue to generously support WISP.
The event was organized by Wien Alumni Network Steering Committee members Deborah Berebichez ’96, Nadir Daudi ’10, Maciek Gadamski ’92, Benjamin Gorelick ’11, Mohit Gourisaria ’09, Tejas Kumar ’10, Sridatta Mukherjee ’09, Shranutha Reddy ’09, Karen Vasudavan ’94, Taeko Yamamoto ’91 and Jerry Zha ’09.
Panelists included moderator Juan Corradi ’65, MA’67, PhD’73; Mansur Hasib ’80; Berebichez; and Gorelick.
Wien alumni Maciek Gadamski ’92, Deborah Berebichez ’96, Taeko Yamamoto ’91, Nadir Daudi ’10 and Benjamin Gorelick ’11.
Brandeis was our home for four incredibly formative years. Throughout the rest of our lives, a visit to campus will transport us right back to that special time.
This was never more evident than last fall, when two groups of alumni returned to campus to celebrate distinctly different but equally important milestones, the first-ever Athletics Homecoming and the 55th anniversary of the Wien International Scholarship Program (WISP). Between the two events, more than 1,000 alumni gathered to see old friends and pay tribute to the university that gave them so much.
The events signal not only a renewed energy and enthusiasm among alumni but also the success of efforts by several members of the Alumni Association board of directors to engage alumni on the basis of shared interests and experiences rather than class year. Congratulations to volunteer leaders Jessica Bergman ’91, who ensured the Athletics Homecoming was a smash, and Taeko Yamamoto ’91 and her steering committee, who drew alumni from all over the world to celebrate the WISP anniversary.
When you aren’t able to get to campus, Brandeis’ enhanced profile on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn; the robust Alumni and Friends website; and more than 150 events hosted around the world still let you participate in programs and engage with one another and the university. A special campaign, “I Am Bold,” recently invited Brandeisians of the Last Decade to upload photos that show what makes them “Bold.” Visit facebook.com/brandeisbold to see what they posted.
In person or online, strengthening the alumni community is our shared goal, since it benefits us personally as well as the university we love. The Alumni Association is continually finding ways to build better connections, and alumni are responding in large numbers. I hope you will make an effort to connect however you can.
We would be honored to welcome you home.
Adam J. Rifkin ’97
President, Brandeis Alumni Association
Brandeis’ new vice president of alumni and university relations has a special affinity for affinity programs, like those that connect international alumni, former athletes or alumni concerned with social justice.
“I want to bring together Brandeisians from across the generations and around the world who share a common interest,” says Patsy Fisher, who arrived at Brandeis in September 2013 after spending the past 25 years at her undergraduate alma mater, Dartmouth College, in a variety of leadership positions in alumni relations and advancement.
“The success of Bold (Brandeisians of the Last Decade) is a great example of how to design programs around life stage and other affinity connections,” Fisher says.
She also hopes to expand Reunions by creating programming that appeals to a broad array of interests. An all-time high of 900 alumni returned to campus for Reunion 2013.
“Alumni come back to see their friends, but Reunion is also an opportunity for them to meet students, engage with faculty, re-connect with campus, visit with the president and learn about admissions,” says Fisher.
In addition, she wants to help Brandeis students understand that although they will be on campus for just four years, they will be alumni for the rest of their lives.
“The life cycle of engagement should begin the moment that students matriculate,” Fisher says. “When they arrive on campus, we should be conveying immediately the mutual benefits of lifelong engagement. Doing so requires helping our students build connections with alumni.”
Hundreds of former Brandeis athletes — from “Benny’s Boys,” who represented the school on the football field in the 1950s, to alumni whose onetime teammates still compete for the Judges — gathered on campus in the fall to celebrate a sports program that has always prized excellence on both sides of the student-athlete equation.
The inaugural Athletics Homecoming, held last October, featured men’s and women’s varsity soccer matches against the University of Rochester; a Brandeis community barbecue; and alumni basketball, swimming and softball events. The university also fêted soccer coaches Mike Coven and Denise Dallamora for their combined 75 years of service; dedicated a bust of football star Bill McKenna ’55, the school’s first All-American in any sport; and inducted past stars into the 15th Joseph M. Linsey Athletics Hall of Fame.
“Whether it’s in the library, lab, studio, playing field or pool, we always try to do our best,” said President Frederick Lawrence, who spent the day shuttling between ceremonies and watching the soccer matches at Gordon Field.
The Athletics Homecoming was the brainchild of Jessica Bergman ’91, a former member of the Brandeis basketball, softball, and track and field teams, who joined the Alumni Association board of directors last year at the urging of its president, Adam Rifkin ’97.
“We wanted to find a way to connect former athletes with Brandeis and welcome them back,” Bergman says.
The Department of Athletics helped organize the weekend, along with the Alumni Association, the Alumni Club of Greater Boston and Friends of Brandeis Athletics.
“It’s wonderful to come together and celebrate Brandeis athletics in this way,” says Sheryl Sousa ’90, director of athletics and a former volleyball and softball player at Brandeis.
In his role as president of the Alumni Club of Greater Boston, former Brandeis swimmer Doug Rosner ’88 helped organize alumni events around men’s and women’s soccer doubleheaders the past two years. The Athletics Homecoming represented a natural progression.
“It brings together athletes from different generations and different sports,” Rosner says.
For the first time, current athletes formally presented the six individuals and two teams inducted as the newest members of the Hall of Fame: Jules Love ’55, the 1957 football team, Mark Bonaiuto ’77, the 1984 men’s soccer team, Michael Goldfarb ’99, Victoria Petrillo ’99, Rashad Williams ’02 and Danielle Fitzpatrick ’04.