Mark Surchin ’78
Mark Surchin ’78

Keeping a Legacy Alive

In a letter to Louis D. Brandeis on the occasion of the U.S. Supreme Court justice’s 80th birthday, Albert Einstein wrote, “I know of no other person who combines such profound intellectual gifts with such self-renunciation, while finding the whole meaning of his life in quiet service to the community.” Twenty years later, our alma mater was named in Brandeis’ honor and pledged to uphold the values he championed throughout his life.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Waltham Group, a shining example of the university’s commitment to social justice. Each year, more than 1,000 students volunteer for Waltham Group outreach programs that support local residents in need. The Waltham Group has provided an invaluable learning experience for student volunteers, who combine their intellectual gifts with their generous spirits and helping hands. Recently, during Homecoming 2016, more than 100 Waltham Group alumni joined students, community partners and program leaders for a weekend of service projects and a gala celebration of the organization’s first half-century.

Over the years, Brandeis University has adapted to changing times. It innovates; it blazes new trails in research and teaching. But through it all, I am proud to say, it remains faithful to its founding social-justice principles and to the spirit of its namesake.

We celebrated another new beginning this fall as we welcomed our new president, Ron Liebowitz, to our community. Alumni gathered in large numbers at events in Boston and New York City to meet the man who will help write the next chapter of Brandeis history. It’s already very clear he will continue our proud tradition of preparing students to make the world a better place.


Mark Surchin ’78
President, Brandeis Alumni Association

Deborah Lipstadt, MA’72, PhD’76, with President Ron Liebowitz
Deborah Lipstadt, MA’72, PhD’76, with President Ron Liebowitz

Alumni Award Given to Historian Lipstadt

Deborah Lipstadt, MA’72, PhD’76, the Emory University historian whose legal battle with Holocaust denier David Irving in 2000 is the basis for the movie “Denial,” received the 2016 Alumni Achievement Award.

President Ron Liebowitz presented Lipstadt with the award on Sept. 22 as part of a special screening of the movie on campus. The award recognizes alumni for distinguished contributions to their profession or chosen field of endeavor and is the highest honor the university bestows exclusively on alumni.

In a conversation following the “Denial” screening, Lipstadt and filmmaker Errol Morris discussed the perplexing phenomenon of denying historical fact. “The Holocaust has the dubious distinction of being the most documented genocide in history,” said Lipstadt. “People who deny that evidence can only be motivated by hate.”

Lipstadt, the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory for more than 20 years, is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the Holocaust. Her books include “Beyond Belief: The American Press and the Coming of the Holocaust, 1933-1945,” “Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory,” “History on Trial: My Day in Court With a Holocaust Denier” and “The Eichmann Trial.” She has also taught at UCLA and the University of Washington.

While studying at Brandeis, she focused her research on contemporary Jewish history, working closely with Professor Benjamin Halpern in the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies (NEJS) and writing her dissertation on American Zionist leader Louis Lipsky. She became the 100th individual to earn a doctorate from Brandeis.

Lipstadt arrived on campus in fall 1968, just as the field of Jewish studies was becoming an increasingly popular and respected area of academic inquiry. “Brandeis and NEJS were at the nerve center of what was happening in Jewish studies,” she says. “This wasn’t about consciousness-raising; this was about academic study. It was a tremendously exciting time to be at Brandeis.”

Ron Glover ’73
Ron Glover ’73

Ron Glover ’73 Lived the Art of Leadership

Nelson Mandela once said, “Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front.”

This perfectly captures the approach our longtime friend Ron Glover ’73, who passed away suddenly at age 64 on June 15, took in his numerous leadership roles — as global vice president of diversity at IBM, as a Brandeis student and later an engaged alumnus, as a deacon at his church, and as patriarch of his beloved family.

We first saw his special leadership qualities at Brandeis during the early 1970s, a tumultuous time on college campuses around the country. Ron, who was very active in student government, became the first African-American to serve as the university’s Student Union president.

While some of us aggressively advocated for radical change at Brandeis, Ron was more deliberate and even-tempered. He dispassionately examined issues and formulated conclusions on the basis of facts, not emotion. His self-effacing manner made it easy for us to eventually see the wisdom of his suppositions and adopt them as our own. Decades later, as a member of the Alumni Association board of directors, he showed the same thoughtful, collegial demeanor during our meetings. Because of his background in the corporate world, he was invaluable in helping the board increase diversity and inclusiveness. He also helped launch the Joseph D. Warren, Heller MSW’72, PhD’83, Endowed Scholarship.

Brandeis was always a central part of Ron’s life. He was forever grateful for the financial support he received from the university, first as a student in the Myra Kraft ’64 Transitional Year Program and then as an undergraduate. He met the love of his life, Gail (Corbin) Glover ’73, at Brandeis.

Ron’s involvement with his alma mater was not limited to his alumni-board participation. He enjoyed sharing his experiences with students and served as a mentor to fellow alumni. He worked closely with Interim President Lisa M. Lynch to reach a conclusion to the 2015 student takeover of the Bernstein-Marcus Administration Center and participated in a student-led diversity conference a few months later. Ron always had an eye out for prospective students who might be a good fit at Brandeis.

The last time Ron came to campus was to attend an Alumni of Color reception during Reunion 2016 a few days before he died, but his presence was keenly felt late this summer at a New Student Send-Off for incoming students, their parents and others at Curtis’ home in Atlanta.

Curtis shared with the 75 guests in attendance the story of how he and Ron pursued similar professional aspirations in different ways after graduation, then re-connected when Ron joined IBM, Curtis’ longtime employer. They resumed their relationship — made stronger by their shared love of Brandeis — as if there had been no interruption, and stayed close until Ron’s death.

Once again, Ron was leading from the back.

— Paul Regan ’73, P’12; Curtis Tearte ’73; and Jose Perez ’75

Alumni Board Adds New Members-at-Large

Four members-at-large were elected to the Alumni Association board of directors. They began their two-year terms on July 1.

“I am delighted to welcome our newest members to the board,” says Mark Surchin ’78, Alumni Association president. “They bring a range of professional experience and diversity of perspective to our group. I look forward to working with them to increase alumni engagement, both alum to alum and with the university.”

Alexander Heckler ’98

Alexander Heckler ’98 is founding and managing partner of consulting firm LSN Partners and a partner at boutique law firm Llorente & Heckler, both based in Miami. As a student, Heckler served on the Student Union, was an officer for the Brandeis Democrats and worked on two state senate campaigns. He was selected to be the student liaison for former Texas Gov. Ann Richards while she served as the Fred and Rita Richman Distinguished Visiting Professor of Politics at Brandeis. Richards, a former Brandeis trustee who died in 2006, became a mentor to Heckler and hired him to work in her Miami law office while he was in law school. In 2014, he established the Alexander P. Heckler Family/Gov. Ann Richards Summer Political Internship Program, which provides an annual stipend for a Brandeis student to intern in the government or nonprofit sector in Washington, D.C. He served as co-chair of his 15th Reunion in 2013.

Heckler is looking forward to serving on the board. “I simply want to be more involved, and give back to the university that gave me so much,” he says.

Risa Levine ’83

Risa Levine ’83 is an attorney in private practice in New York City. As an undergraduate, she was news editor at The Justice, served as national lobby coordinator for the Student Coalition for Soviet Jewry, and worked on Ethiopian Jewish issues with Amnesty International. Levine served as co-chair of her 20th, 25th and 30th Reunions.

“Brandeis took a passionate, intelligent but naive young girl and converted her into an analytical thinker who feels a responsibility to the larger world beyond,” says Levine. “Brandeis has remained a critical element of my life story since graduation. I want to help Brandeis continue to grow and remain a leader.”

Jessica Willingham ’10

Jessica Willingham ’10 is a public-relations coordinator at the Montgomery County (Pennsylvania) Commissioners Office. As an undergraduate, she was a research and administrative assistant at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, where she provided case research for the Innocence Project and conducted research on illegal adoptions. Willingham also played intramural volleyball, and served as reporter, writer, host and editor of a range of programs at the Brandeis television station. As an alumna, Willingham has been an active Alumni Club of Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey member, a Bold (Brandeisians of the Last Decade) liaison, a member of her 5th Reunion Committee, a career mentor for students and alumni, and a class agent.

“Brandeis alumni share a special bond,” she says. “I hope that by serving on the Alumni Association board, I can help other alumni get involved and make them feel more connected to the university community.”

Shelly Wolf ’64

Shelly Wolf ’64 is a senior project manager for technology and systems development at Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia. As an undergraduate, she was captain of the cheerleading team, a fencer and a member of the Judicial Board of Review. One of only two women in her class to major in mathematics, Wolf credits her professional success to the liberal-arts education she received at Brandeis and the broad perspective it afforded her. Since graduation, she has served as president of the Alumni Club of Philadelphia, chaired the Philadelphia Alumni Admissions Council, co-chaired her 25th Reunion and hosted several alumni events at her home. She is also a member of the President’s Council.

“As a member of one of the ‘pioneer’ classes, I can add perspective to the Alumni Association board,” Wolf says. “I enjoy my connection to the university and would like to find ways to engage more alumni in the Brandeis community.”

From top: Waltham Group co-founders Howard Winant ’68, Barbara Marin ’68 and Stephen Rose ’61, Heller PhD’70.
From top: Waltham Group co-founders Howard Winant ’68, Barbara Marin ’68 and Stephen Rose ’61, Heller PhD’70.

Homecoming 2016: Where the Heart Is

Hundreds of alumni returned to Brandeis on Oct. 8-9 to cheer, play, eat, network, honor, reunite and celebrate at Homecoming 2016.

The annual weekend festivities, sponsored by the Alumni Association, Friends of Brandeis Athletics, the Alumni Club of Greater Boston and the Hiatt Career Center, included varsity soccer and volleyball competitions, alumni athletic contests, the Food Trucks and Fun event, a family carnival, a panel featuring alumni-athletes who discussed their career paths, the Joseph M. Linsey Brandeis Athletics Hall of Fame induction, and the Zero-Year Reunion and Homecoming Bash.

“It was wonderful to welcome back so many alumni and their families for Homecoming,” says Patsy Fisher, vice president of alumni relations.

On Saturday evening, 200 alumni, students, friends and community partners celebrated alongside President Ron Liebowitz and Waltham Mayor Jeannette McCarthy at a gala marking the 50th anniversary of the Waltham Group.

Welcome to Brandeis

Hundreds of alumni and friends came to meet President Ron Liebowitz at special events held in New York City and Boston. More than 500 people attended the New York City get-together, at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers, and approximately 300 came to the Boston event, held at the Moakley U.S. Courthouse.
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