Stephen J. Solarz: Committed to justice and to Brandeis

Nine-term Congressman, foreign-affairs specialist, Brandeis loyalist was 70

Photos/Mike Lovett

Stephen J. Solarz talking with students at the Ethics Center in 2006.

Brandeis University mourns the loss of Stephen J. Solarz ’62, who served as a nine-term Congressman from New York, and in later years was a founding member of the advisory board of the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life. Congressman Solarz died on Nov. 29 in McLean, Virginia, following a battle with esophageal cancer.

The editor of The Justice as an undergraduate, Solarz went on to law school, but grew impatient with the law, and embarked on a career in politics, first in the New York State Assembly, then in Washington D.C. Elected to Congress from his Brooklyn district for the first time at the age of 34, Solarz quickly became one of the rising stars in the Democratic Party on foreign policy issues, developing especially strong ties in the Philippines, India and Turkey, among other countries.

Congressman Solarz maintained close ties to Brandeis, which deepened after he left the House in 1992, and after Jehuda Reinharz became President in 1994. He was a frequent speaker on campus about foreign policy and politics, and he was awarded the University’s Alumni Achievement Award.

"Steve Solarz was the quintessential Brandeis alumnus: tireless, outspoken, compassionate, and deeply committed to justice and democracy in every corner of the world,” according to Reinharz.

When Reinharz established the advisory board for the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life, he drew on Steve Solarz’s extensive experience and overseas contacts to help build the board, and he asked the former Congressman to join its ranks. Solarz attended meetings regularly, and pushed passionately for the Center to engage in controversial issues as an extension of Brandeis University’s commitment to open debate and public engagement.

“Steve Solarz lived his belief in international cooperation and dialogue,” remembers Daniel Terris, the Center’s director, “and he always pushed us at Brandeis to extend our global reach.”

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