Dorothy Richards, P'83 (center), with Karen Richards Sachs '83 and Laurence Richards.
Dorothy Richards, P'83 (center), with Karen Richards Sachs '83 and Laurence Richards.

Lover of Learning Inspires ‘Elevated’ Legacy

Dorothy Richards, P’83, gave her children opportunities she never had. Now her daughter is ensuring that promising students will have the financial support they need to pursue a Brandeis education.

Karen Richards Sachs ’83 recently made a $100,000 gift to establish the Dorothy Richards Endowed Scholarship in honor of her mother, a Brandeis National Committee leader in Los Angeles who died last year at age 88.

“When my mother passed away, I thought a great deal about the appropriate way to honor her,” Karen says. “The answer kept revealing itself: I needed to support a student who loved books and ideas but didn’t have the means to attend a first-rate university. I think she would be so proud.”

Dorothy, a strong student at Brooklyn’s Lincoln High School, would have been a perfect fit at the fledgling Brandeis as a young woman, says her daughter.

“I can envision her being in nirvana at Brandeis,” Karen says. “The idea of her spending four years talking about ideas and reading books would have been the most elevated state of being she could imagine.”

Instead, in a customary move for women at the time, Dorothy pursued a secretarial career to help support herself and her family. Working two or three jobs during the day, she nevertheless attended a variety of night-school programs at colleges across New York City. Though she never accumulated enough credits to graduate, she was well educated about literature, the arts, and the ideas of the day.

Dorothy passed on her love of learning to her children, Karen and Laurence. Karen remembers frequent visits to museums, along with monthly trips to enjoy Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic.

She also instilled in her children an awareness of the world around them. Dorothy protested injustice wherever she saw it — Pepsi’s doing business across the Middle East but not in Israel, for instance, or Nestlé’s aggressive marketing of breast-milk substitutes in Africa. “I grew up in a house where we boycotted whatever my mother felt needed boycotting,” Karen says. “She sent me into the world to be an agent of change.”

From the university’s earliest days, Dorothy admired Brandeis from afar. She applauded it for educating the best students, regardless of their religious or ethnic background, and for its foundational commitment to equity and fairness.

“Since Brandeis came into being the same year as the state of Israel, they became intertwined for her,” Karen says. “She was proud that this new school, which didn’t have quotas and had a real commitment to social justice, became a top-ranked institution in a very short time. She never stopped talking about Brandeis; that’s where she wanted her daughter to be.”

When the family moved from New York to Beverly Hills, Calif., in 1974, Dorothy knew where to find a network of vital, educated and talented women — the Brandeis National Committee. She joined the BNC chapter in LA, eventually serving as president.

Dorothy established the LA chapter’s signature fundraiser, the annual Authors and Celebrities event. She was recognized for her commitment to Brandeis and the BNC at the event in 2008, which coincided with her 83rd birthday.

“The best place to honor her was at the event she envisioned and brought to life,” Karen says. “She was very proud that her fundraising was linked to learning and books. It was the right way to celebrate her love of Brandeis.”

Literary Phoenix Event Hits the Quarter-Century Mark

Carol Kern’s “baby” turns 25 next year — and there’s plenty to celebrate.

The Book and Author event Kern initiated in 1991 for the Brandeis National Committee’s Phoenix chapter, when a couple of local authors discussed their work with about 150 attendees at a nearby hotel, has grown into a signature event. The gathering annually attracts big-name authors, generates crowds of nearly 1,000 people and raises more than $60,000 for Brandeis.

“It’s exciting to see what the Phoenix Book and Author has become,” says Kern, a onetime Brandeis trustee and former BNC national, region and chapter president. “It is our brand in this community.”

Authors Anita Diamant, Greg Iles and Chris Tomlinson are among the literary headliners for the silver anniversary event, scheduled for March 15-16, 2015, at the Phoenician Hotel in Scottsdale. Kern and Merrill Kalman are serving as event chairs, leading a team of nearly 100 volunteers.

When she became president of the Phoenix chapter after moving west from Westchester County, New York, Kern wanted to create a high-profile event that would attract new BNC members, create a buzz in the community, spread the Brandeis name and increase support for the university. The result was the Book and Author affair, modeled after the Los Angeles chapter’s successful Authors and Celebrities event.

“It’s more than just a nice day of entertainment,” Kern says. “We’re doing something important for a good cause — Brandeis.”

Through the years, dozens of big-name authors and celebrities have participated, including Steve Allen, David Baldacci, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Judy Collins, Larry King, Dennis Lehane, James Patterson and Jeffrey Toobin. Many Brandeisians — President Frederick Lawrence, Professor Anita Hill, Gary David Goldberg ’66, Sidney Blumenthal ’69 and Margaret Salinger ’82, among them — have also taken part.

“We all love working on this event,” says Sue Karp, a member of the BNC national executive committee and former national vice president, region president and Phoenix chapter president. “It gives us great pride to do this on behalf of Brandeis.”

Lawrence to Speak at Florida Luncheon

Brandeis President Frederick Lawrence will be the featured speaker at a Sustaining the Mind campaign luncheon on Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, at the Wyndham Hotel in Boca Raton, Fla.

All members of the Brandeis community are invited to attend the event, sponsored by the Brandeis National Committee’s Florida Region. Mitchell Robbins is hosting the luncheon.

President Lawrence will discuss Brandeis’ pioneering medical research, which has the potential to change the way we live.

Sustaining the Mind supports neuroscience research at Brandeis and funds endowed scholarships for students in the sciences. Brandeis’ world-renowned scientists are working to help find cures for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS and autism.

Please make your Sustaining Member gift of $1,000 or more to reserve your seat. To RSVP, call 781-736-7588.

To make a gift in support of the campaign, visit brandeis.edu/bnc.

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