Brandeis’ youngest generation gets new center

University breaks ground on new Lemberg Children's Center on Old South Street

Rendering of new center from D.W. Arthur Associates Architecture

Photos/Mike Lovett

From left: Provost Steve A.N. Goldstein, President Fred Lawrence, Executive Director Howard Baker, Mayor Jeannette McCarthy, Sen. Mike Barrett and Rep. John Lawn with Lemberg children.

Yesterday’s ceremonial groundbreaking for a $2.5 million Gersh and Sarah Lemberg Children’s Center added new meaning to Brandeis’ commitment to educating young people.

“This is just about the most important thing we can be talking about,” said President Fred Lawrence at the ceremony, which was also attended by Waltham Mayor Jeannette McCarthy, Mass. Sen. Mike Barrett and Mass. Rep. John Lawn. “We talk about educating young people, and this is about as young as they get.”

The Brandeis children’s center, currently located next to the Brown and Schwartz buildings on the main campus, will move across South Street to Old South Street, into a new building expected to open next February. The Crown Center for Middle East Studies will move into Lemberg’s former space after planned renovations are completed.

D.W. Arthur Associates Architecture designed the new 7,056-square-foot two-story building, which will double the Lemberg’s capacity from approximately 35 to 75 children, and will include an infant center.

A group of Lemberg children provided delightful musical interludes at the groundbreaking when not sitting quietly with their parents and teachers on a tarp as speakers described their future. Then came their big moment: They each picked up a miniature shovel and ran toward a mound of dirt, ready to take a ceremonial scoop.

The new center has been decades in the making. “I first proposed an infant center in 1979 or 1980,” said Lemberg’s Executive Director Howard Baker, who began teaching at the center in 1972, two years after it opened. President Lawrence and Provost Steve A.N. Goldstein ’78, MA’78, supported his vision for an expanded facility, Baker said, as did the Waltham community and scores of grateful parents.

The groundswell of community support for Lemberg was heartening, Goldstein added, and showed the center’s importance to Brandeis and Waltham, a sentiment echoed by Lawrence, who said that Lemberg exemplifies Brandeis’ “being not only in but of Waltham.”

In addition to serving the children of Brandeis’ diverse faculty, staff and student community, the center serves the children of MetroWest residents as well.

After reading a letter from a grateful student who is now beginning her professional career, Baker said, “I’ve had a blessed life, being with this community that shows such support for what a good children’s center does, and helping people grow into happy and healthy lives.

“To me, this is saying we’re going to be here for another 50 years.”

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