Seymour S. Bluestone
Seymour S. Bluestone

An $8.4 Million Bequest to Advance Justice

Seymour S. (“Sy”) Bluestone carried a calling card that included his name, contact information and two words: “One World.” The phrase reflected his belief that many of the world’s challenges can be solved only on a global level, that people suffering anywhere on the planet should be a concern of people everywhere.

The former rehabilitation doctor found many examples of his philosophy in action at Brandeis, so he chose the university to continue his legacy of, in his words, doing “good for the human race.” Brandeis recently received an $8.4 million bequest gift from Bluestone, who died in September at age 96.

“Sy Bluestone’s bequest will help Brandeis continue to attract talented students of all backgrounds and perspectives,” says President Ron Liebowitz. “This gift will strengthen our ability to stay true to our mission as a university founded on openness, academic rigor and inclusiveness.”

Bluestone began making small gifts to Brandeis in the 1990s at the request of family friends. He visited the campus just once, in 2000, and learned about a number of Brandeis’ programs. Over lunch, he and Professor Laurence Simon, the founding director of the Sustainable International Development (SID) program at the university’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management, began a discussion about poverty and other global issues that would last for years. “Sy connected with the quest at Brandeis to act on values and issues of social justice,” Simon says.

Now the director of Heller’s Center for Global Development and Sustainability, Simon made near-annual trips to Clearwater, Florida, to visit Bluestone, who maintained an intellectual curiosity throughout his long life. Simon often brought international students studying at Heller with him, and Bluestone would speak with them in French or Spanish.

In 2001, Bluestone created the Jesse F. and Dora H. Bluestone Scholarship, in memory of his parents, to support students in the SID program and in the Myra Kraft Transitional Year Program (MKTYP). Bluestone’s bequest gift will eventually provide financial aid for four to five students in the SID program, and support research and program development in the Center for Global Development and Sustainability. The gift also will help students enrolled in MKTYP.

“Like Sy, the Heller School is committed to making positive social change,” says David Weil, dean of the Heller School. “His gift will help strengthen the Heller School’s efforts to prepare our graduates to address global issues effectively.”

Now in its 50th year, MKTYP prepares talented students from under-resourced high schools for a competitive liberal-arts curriculum through a combination of small classes, rigorous academics and strong academic support. “Sy understood that we all succeed when more students have the opportunity to fulfill their potential,” says MKTYP director Kathryn Bethea.

Zamira Korff, senior vice president of institutional advancement, said she is proud that people like Bluestone look to Brandeis when they want to see their values in action. “I am immensely grateful that Sy chose Brandeis — an institution committed to creating a fair and just society — to address the issues that were so important to him,” Korff says.

Born in Brooklyn in 1921, Bluestone credited his parents with providing him ethical guidance. His mother was an artist; his father was a businessman and, for a time, a member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

A graduate of Cornell University and the New York University School of Medicine, Bluestone served as a medical officer in the U.S. Army in Korea from 1945-47, reaching the rank of captain. Later, he held a number of medical positions, including serving for 10 years as director of the New York State Rehabilitation Hospital, where he expanded medical and research services.

In retirement, he volunteered with hospices and other care organizations, and supported many progressive causes. Bluestone was also a prolific writer. Dozens of his letters to the editor were published in newspapers in Florida, where he retired. He wrote about causes dear to his heart, including international humanitarian efforts, funding for public schools, religious tolerance, the separation of church and state, civil rights, traffic congestion and corporate influence on the U.S. health-care system.

Abby Belyea ’18, a member of the Senior Class Gift Committee, at a Giving Tuesday table on campus.
Abby Belyea ’18, a member of the Senior Class Gift Committee, at a Giving Tuesday table on campus.

Giving Tuesday Breaks Records

In November, thanks to the generosity of Brandeisians around the world, Brandeis was able to #MakeItGrand by surpassing its target goal of receiving 1,000 gifts on Giving Tuesday.

Alumni, parents, friends, students, faculty and staff made 1,099 gifts, a 46 percent increase over the previous year’s Giving Tuesday total of 754. In number of gifts received, Nov. 28 was the single biggest fundraising day in university history. In all, Brandeis raised $391,045.

A small group of donors, including Madalyn Friedberg, national president of the Brandeis National Committee, and Brandon Pick ’08 and Marissa Pick ’07, generously provided a $141,000 challenge gift, which was unlocked when Brandeis reached 1,000 donations.

On Giving Tuesday, gifts were received from all 65 Brandeis graduating classes. Gifts came in from 35 states, led by Massachusetts, New York and California. And the Class of 2017, which graduated just last May, led all classes in the number of gifts made. The Classes of 2018 and 2021 were next, followed by the Class of 2013.

“It was gratifying to see so many members of the Brandeis family — both on campus and off — participate in Giving Tuesday, the international day of philanthropy,” says Zamira Korff, senior vice president of institutional advancement. “Their collective generosity will support our unique educational culture, which combines boundless inquisitiveness, a desire to improve the world, and a commitment to collaboration between faculty and students.”

Zamira Korff
Zamira Korff

A Truly Special Place

I have always had tremendous admiration for Brandeis, even before joining the university as senior vice president of institutional advancement. Over the past few months, I’ve had the great pleasure of learning how truly special Brandeis is.

The faculty is extraordinary — brilliant, devoted and pioneering. The students are equally passionate, dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, justice and truth. Our trustees and donors are committed partners in advancing Brandeis’ mission, and ensuring our success locally, nationally and globally. Brandeis offers an unparalleled depth and breadth of study, and an intimate educational experience in which students are able to work directly with world-renowned professors. 

Following Professors Michael Rosbash and Jeff Hall’s receipt of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work studying circadian rhythms, the university is ideally positioned to speak with an even more powerful voice on a larger platform.  

I’m thrilled, for example, that our new Opioid Policy Research Collaborative, at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, is advancing much-needed scholarship on the opioid-addiction epidemic. Bringing together researchers, clinicians and policymakers from varied disciplines, the initiative serves as a primary resource for government health officials and others addressing the crisis.

President Ron Liebowitz has an expansive vision for Brandeis. I am inspired by his boldness, honesty, passion and courage as we plan for the university’s future. At the same time, we proudly embrace our tradition rooted in Jewish values: a reverence for learning, an emphasis on critical thinking, and the ideal of making the world a better place through our actions and talents.

My conversations with Brandeisians remind me that, just as we change lives, we have tremendous opportunity to change the course of history. For 70 years, Brandeis has been characterized by bold and innovative thinking on our campus. We are now poised to expand the knowledge fostered at the university by connecting and collaborating with the world around us in even more meaningful and profound ways. 


Zamira Korff
Senior Vice President of Institutional Advancement

Michael Guttenberg ’89 (bottom row, left) during his student days at Brandeis.
Michael Guttenberg ’89 (bottom row, left) during his student days at Brandeis.

Honoring a Mensch Who Was There for Others

Michael Guttenberg ’89 was always a giver — serving as an EMT for the Brandeis Emergency Medical Corps (BEMCo) and as a volunteer EMT at home in New York during school breaks, saving lives as a heroic first responder on 9/11, becoming a leader in the field of emergency medicine.

In October, Guttenberg died at age 50 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Now a group of his Brandeis classmates and friends are giving back in his honor. A fundraising initiative has been launched to purchase a bench on campus in his memory, with any funds left over going to support BEMCo training.

Marc Pinkas ’88, who joined BEMCo at Guttenberg’s suggestion, recalls his friend’s generous nature. “Mike would frequently join me to help on a call even though he was not on duty, because that’s who he was, selfless and giving,” Pinkas says. “A friend told me the other day she is so thankful for the Mikes of the world, people who rush into a building, as Mike did on 9/11, when everyone else is rushing out.”

On the day of the terrorist attacks, Guttenberg was an emergency medical services fellow at the New York Fire Department; during the period that followed, he worked 16-hour days to aid the injured and assist in the relief effort. After earning a medical degree from New York Institute of Technology’s New York College of Osteopathic Medicine, he became the medical director of clinical preparedness and the Center for Emergency Medical Services at Northwell Health.

Guttenberg stayed in touch with his Brandeis friends even as his illness progressed. “Recently, he came to celebrate my 50th birthday,” says Melissa Hafter ’89. “There he was, so sick and barely able to eat, schlepping two and a half hours. But he was there. He was chatty and funny, and I loved that we had some time together.

“Mike was a mensch,” Hafter continues. “He had a kind and generous soul, and he made the world a better place.”

To make a gift in Guttenberg’s honor, visit (On the “Make a Gift” page, under “Designations,” select “Other” and type in “Michael Guttenberg honor.”)

For more information, contact Susan Wulf, P’21, senior associate director of annual giving, at 781-736-4045 or


A photo gallery from events and meetings around the world.

Receptions With the President

Gatherings in Toronto, Philadelphia and Chicago gave alumni, parents and friends the opportunity to spend time with President Ron Liebowitz.

Photo from a presidential reception in Philadelphia
Diane Needle Plotnick ’54; Bernie Frank ’55, P’81, P’84, P’93; Liebowitz; Lewis Brooks ’80, P’16; Jessica Willingham ’10; Denise Silber Brooks ’84, P’16; and Board of Trustees chair Meyer Koplow ’72, P’02, P’05, at the Philadelphia event.
Photo from a presidential reception in Philadelphia
Liebowitz with Michele Shoueka Perlstein ’89 in Philly.
Photo from a presidential reception in Chicago
Hillary Sager ’12 and Samantha Dobrusin ’10 in Chicago.
Photo from a presidential reception in Toronto
Sophie Gottesman and Bryan Flatt ’12 in Toronto.
Photo from a presidential reception in Toronto
Biao Gong, IBS MSF’03; Kristina Vera, IBS MA’11; Polina Sandomirsky, IBS MBA’15; Ana Lobo, IBS MBA’12; Georg Ernenputsch, IBS MBA’14; Yuliya Usmanova, IBS MA’10; Karthiga Vivekanandan, IBS MBA’15; Francisco Tang Bustillos, IBS MA’16; and Karen Bonadio, associate director for alumni and external relations at Brandeis International Business School, enjoy the Toronto gathering.

Parents Advisory Council Meeting

Photo from the Parents Advisory Council Meeting
Randye Soref and Michael Abrams, P’19, with Beth Ann Burns at the annual Parents Advisory Council Meeting during Family Weekend, in October.

Perlmutter Award

Image from the Perlmutter Award presentation

At an event in New York City, Brandeis International Business School presented Infor CEO Charles Phillips with the Perlmutter Award for Excellence in Global Business Leadership. Pictured: President Ron Liebowitz, Phillips, Barbara Perlmutter and Brandeis Trustee Louis Perlmutter ’56.

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