Around Campus

Brandeis expands online course offerings with Learning Analytics graduate certificatePosted: April 14, 2015
Brandeis University’s Graduate Professional Studies division (GPS) will launch a fully-online graduate certificate program in Learning Analytics in September 2015, the university announced today.

Designed to be completed in 1.5 years or less, the program is for professionals with strong backgrounds in education, instructional design, or institutional research. Cross-disciplinary in nature, the certificate will provide students with the foundational tool sets and theory of business intelligence and data analysis. These skillsets are necessary for evaluating the effectiveness of courses, programs and instruction, and prepare students to fill a highly in-demand skills gap in a burgeoning job market.

“As the learning analytics field continues to evolve, it is more important than ever before to use the technology and data we have available to us to understand and, ultimately, enhance the learning experience,” said Brian Salerno, director of Online Learning and Instructional Design at Brandeis GPS.

The five-course, 15-credit certificate program draws heavily from two existing Brandeis GPS master’s degrees: Instructional Design and Technology and Strategic Analytics. Applicants are expected to possess a post-graduate degree in a related field as well as three years of relevant work experience.

In addition to the new Learning Analytics certificate, Brandeis GPS offers eight fully online part-time master’s degrees, including Strategic Analytics, Bioinformatics, Health and Medical Informatics, Instructional Design & Technology, and Software Engineering. All Brandeis GPS programs are asynchronous, providing students with a flexible and convenient approach to completing their degree.

Students interested in applying to the Learning Analytics certificate program should complete their application by Aug. 11, 2015. Students also have the opportunity to take a course prior to applying for admission. Registration for the summer 2015 term opens on April 14, with courses beginning May 20. For more information about Brandeis GPS, please visit www.brandeis.edu/gps.
Milwaukee Bucks owner Marc Lasry visits Brandeis studentsPosted: April 14, 2015
Photo/Jarret Bencks

Finance executive and owner of the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks Marc Lasry visited the Brandeis University campus Monday, where he spoke to students about finance, the business of basketball and offered some advice.

"Find the things you really love, because whatever you love you will succeed in," he said.

Lasry is the chairman, chief executive officer and co-founder of Avenue Capital Group, which was established in 1995 and now manages approximately $13 billion in assets. He and Wesley Edens purchased the Bucks in 2014.

Monday's event, held in Gosman Sports and Convocation Center, was co-sponsored by Brandeis Athletics and the Hiatt Career Center. Lasry met with student-athletes in Auerbach Arena, then spoke and took questions from students in the Napoli Trophy Room.

Donahue honored, awarded research and teaching grantPosted: April 14, 2015
Photo/Mike Lovett
The Bay State Historical League honored Brian Donahue, professor and chair of the environmental studies program, with the 2015 Bay State Legacy Award for his research on New England forestry and farming. The award is conferred to honor contributions to the interpretation and public presentation of Massachusetts’ history.
 
Last summer, Donahue was the lead writer of “A New England Food Vision,” an agricultural plan for the region to produce half its own food by 2060 by re-purposing forests and pastures.
 
In addition, the Thoreau Foundation has awarded Donahue and a $31,000 grant to support undergraduate research in Walden Woods. Donahue will use part of the grant to expand undergraduate field teaching and research at Brandeis.
GRAMMY Foundation grant to support restoration of Lenny Bruce recordingsPosted: March 31, 2015
Photo/Kitty Bruce © 2014

The GRAMMY Foundation made a $20,000 grant to Brandeis University to help digitize the personal recordings of Lenny Bruce, a collection of performances, rehearsals and home sessions by the late comedy pioneer and free-speech advocate that the University acquired as part of the Lenny Bruce papers last year. The historic recordings are extremely fragile and would be lost without restoration and reformatting.

The gift to Brandeis was one of 14 grants, for a total of more than $200,000, awarded last week by the GRAMMY Foundation to provide support for archiving and preservation programs, and research efforts that examine the impact of music on human development.

“We thank the GRAMMY Foundation for its generous gift to help support our efforts to preserve the audio recordings in the Lenny Bruce collection,” says Sarah Shoemaker, associate university librarian for archives and special collections at Brandeis. “The digitization of these recordings will ensure their safety for future generations of scholars and others who are seeking insights into the work and life of an iconic figure in American comedy.”

A generous grant from the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation last year enabled Brandeis to acquire the collection of Bruce’s recordings, photographs, manuscripts, news clippings and other material held by his daughter, Kitty. The collection is housed in the Robert D. Farber University Archives and Special Collections Department.

Brandeis is planning to host a retrospective on Bruce and his life in 2016, 50 years after his death.

“The Recording Academy is proud to provide the financial support for our GRAMMY Foundation’s longstanding grant program,” says Neil Portnow, president/CEO of the Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation. “Not only have we awarded more than $6 million to more than 300 worthwhile initiatives over the course of this program, but we have funded such a diverse and outstanding group of grantees and significant projects that the foundation has become a driving philanthropic force in the fields of archiving, preservation and scientific research.”

Myra Kraft Transitional Year students celebrate the Stamp ActPosted: March 24, 2015
Photo/Jarret Bencks

From left: Joseph Figueroa as Thomas Hutchinson, Vanio Dos Santos as Benjamin Franklin and Christian Nuñez as Samuel Adams.

Students in the Myra Kraft Transitional Year Program presented an exhibit and performance to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Stamp Act.

Donning colonial garb, Joseph Figueroa '19, Vanio Dos Santos '19 and Christian Nuñez '19 wrote and performed a scene depicting conversation between Thomas Hutchinson, Benjamin Franklin and Samuel Adams, with Figueroa playing Hutchinson, Dos Santos as Franklin and Nuñez as Adams.

The Stamp Act of 1765 required certain documents to be printed on stamped paper from Great Britain that carried a tax. It was met with protest from many American colonists.

Students put on the performance and created the exhibit as part of History lecturer Craig Bruce Smith's course, "Preserving Boston's Past: Public History and Digital Humanities." The event Monday in Rapaporte Treasure Hall was titled "The 250th Anniversary of the Stamp Act: A Revolutionary Exhibit and Performance." To create the exhibit, students combed through archival materials to find compelling images, find out where the images came from and create captions for them.

"It was a real test of the eye, it had to be something that would really grab your attention," said Kenneth Hong '19.

The Transitional Year Program was established in 1968 and was renamed in 2013 for Myra Kraft ‘64, the late Brandeis alumna and trustee. It provides small classes and strong support systems for students who have had limitations to their precollege academic opportunities.

Fund set up for student’s family following house fire Posted: March 20, 2015
The family of Erika Carter, a student in the Myra Kraft Transitional Year Program, lost their home to a fire this week. Members of the Brandeis community who are interested in offering support for Carter and her family may want to consider donating via a GoFundMe site that has been set up for the family.
Students unwind with puppies and pizzasPosted: March 18, 2015
Photo/Mike Lovett

The Brandeis Psychological Counseling Center hosted a “Puppies and Pizza” party for students who wanted to take a break from their studies. The March 18 event featured therapy dogs and offered students a chance to relax, if only for a moment, while they prepared for their midterm exams.

Changes to Brandeis’ dining services and meal plansPosted: March 17, 2015

More than three years ago, Brandeis administration and students, working closely with a consultant, began a review of campus dining services. They assessed what services were being provided, what was desired and what might be the best model for Brandeis.

The research suggested that facilities needed to be upgraded and venues expanded, but it also meant that Brandeis would need to adopt the dining services model used by nearly all of its peer institutions, where all students who live in campus housing are required to be part of the meal plan. Most of those models maintain a roughly comparable overall residential cost (room and board). In those models, the more spacious apartment housing with greater amenities for juniors and seniors cost more, and the meal plans at those levels are brought into a cost that maintains a comparable overall charge to the less expensive first and second year rooms with the larger meal plans.

The collaborative and unanimous decision to upgrade dining services resulted in some significant changes. Sodexo was selected as the new provider, and dining services were expanded to a variety of venues, including bringing Starbucks into the library, a café in the science center, and a Dunkin' Donuts to lower campus. This past summer, Usdan received a massive remodeling, offering a new kosher deli, sushi bar, and Currito, along with a fully renovated all-you-can-eat dining facility. This coming summer, Einstein Bros. Bagels will expand to a full-service operation and the Sherman Dining Hall will be full renovated and expanded. Hours and meal plan use also have been expanded across campus, and a partnership with Russo’s Market has brought a great array of fresh fruits and other amenities to campus stores and dining halls.

Brandeis continues to work closely with the campus dining committee on the dining program. The changes to next year’s meal plans reflect students’ desire for more points. The program also reflects student input with a new meal exchange at several venues, in response to student requests for more ways to use meal “swipes.”

The student dining committee focused significant attention on the apartment style plans. While all meal plan options are open to students in apartments, juniors and seniors in apartments can choose to access the less expensive plan options. At the request of the students, the plan was designed in blocks for the full semester, providing students maximize flexibility regarding when they make use of their meals. Students also asked for a plan below this year’s apartment plan cost of $2,000/semester. Although this risks creating a less cost efficient plan for the students, Brandeis will provide a plan that is priced at $1,875/semester.

While increased costs are never welcome and no dining program on any campus is perfect for everyone, student leadership and community input helped shape the long-term model for Brandeis dining services, just as input continues to shape the details of that implementation today. The changes underway reflect decisions made in the best interests of campus community toward offering the diverse dining opportunities requested by the students, and improvements that will help make Brandeis dining among the best in the country.

Sparking ideas and sprouting solutionsPosted: March 3, 2015
Have an idea for a business or product? Brandeis University wants to hear it.
 
SPARK, a new initiative created by the Brandeis University Virtual Incubator Program, is offering $50,000 to help bring ideas and entrepreneurial ambitions to life. It will focus on projects that promote positive social, educational or financial impact on a broad range of issues, including the environment, education, computer science, healthcare and economics. SPARK will also provide training and networking opportunities to aspiring entrepreneurs. 
 
SPARK is funded by the Hassenfeld Family Innovation Center and sponsored by the Office of Technology Licensing (OTL). A total of $50,000 will be awarded to selected projects, commensurate with the scope of the project.
 
“The Hassenfeld Family Innovation Center was founded to support the Brandeis community in different and innovative ways,” says Rebecca Menapace, associate provost for innovation and OTL executive director. “Brandeis is already such a collaborative place and we hope SPARK can deepen those connections, both on campus and in the broader community.”
 
Undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, faculty and staff are all welcome to submit proposals. Preliminary proposals are due by Friday, March 6, 2015. Finalists will present their proposal to a panel of industry judges at the end of April and awards will be announced by early May.
 
Friday, March 6, also marks the deadline for proposals for SPROUT Grants, a five-year-old initiative to support innovative research projects. A total of $50,000 will be awarded to selected projects, commensurate with the scope of the project.
 
Funded by the Office of the Provost and sponsored by OTL, SPROUT Grants are awarded to projects that require bench research, lab space or lab equipment. Finalists will also be eligible for training and networking opportunities. Previous winners include projects focused on developing new classes of anti-cancer drugs; improving the manufacture of insulin, and improving a genome modification system.
 
“Together, the SPROUT and SPARK programs create a virtual incubator spanning the breadth of what we do at Brandeis, from developing software and apps to improving protein chemistry and vaccine development,” says Menapace.
Yehudi Wyner elected president of American Academy of Arts and LettersPosted: March 2, 2015

Professor Emeritus of Composition Yehudi Wyner has been elected president of the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Letters.

He succeeds architect Henry S. Cobb as president of the academy and will serve a three-year term. Wyner has been a member of the highly selective honor society since 1999.

Wyner's decorated career includes a 2006 Pulitzer Prize in music for his composition "Piano Concerto: 'Chiavi in Mano'," a Grammy in 2005 for "The Mirror," the Elise Stoeger Prize from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and numerous grants and fellowships.

Comprised of 250 architects, composers, artists, and writers, the American Academy of Arts and Letters fosters literature, music, and the fine arts through administering awards and prizes, exhibiting art and manuscripts, funding stage readings and performances of new works, and purchasing works of art donated to museums.

Shantanu Jadhav named Sloan Research FellowPosted: Feb. 25, 2015
Assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience Shantanu Jadhav has won a prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship to explore memory and decision-making in mammalian brains.
 
Shantanu Jadhav
Shantanu Jadhav
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation fellowship honors early-career scientists and scholars who are among the next generation of scientific leaders. This year, 126 researchers from the U.S. and Canada were awarded the $50,000 grant.
 
Jadhav, who recently came to Brandeis from the University of California, San Francisco, studies how the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex — two critical brain regions — interact and communicate with each other to support learning, memory and memory-guided decision-making.
 
Communication between the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex is critical for remembering, planning, predicting and decision-making, yet scientists don’t yet understand how the two regions communicate. 
 
To explore this question, Jadhav studies rat brains in real time as they form memories, learn and make decisions. He observes how activity in neuronal groups in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex evolves during learning and what mechanisms underlie the organization and transmission of information across these structures.
 
Jadhav hopes his research will provide insight into memory and learning as well as neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders, including dementia, Alzheimer's, depression and schizophrenia.
Brandeis alumni and scholars win prestigious book awardsPosted: Feb. 11, 2015

A number of Brandeis University alumni and scholars who received research support  from the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute and the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education have been awarded the 2014 National Jewish Book Award by the Jewish Book Council. 

Yohanan Petrovsky Shtern won in the category of history for his book, “The Golden Age Shtetl: A New History of Jewish Life in East Europe,” while Orit Kent’s book with Elie Holzer, “A Philosophy of Havruta: Understanding and Teaching the Art of Text Study in Pairs, won in the category of Jewish education.

Additionally, Adam Mendelsohn won in the category of American Jewish Studies for his book, “The Rag Race,” while Julia Cohen and Sarah Abreyeva Stein’s edited book, “Sephardi Lives: A Documentary History, 1700-1950,” won in the category of Sephardic culture.

Cohen’s other book, “Becoming Ottomans: Sephardi Jews and Imperial Citizenship in the Modern Era,” won in the category of writing based on archival material.

Kathryn Hellerstein’s won in the category of women’s studies with her book, “A Question of Tradition: Women Poets in Yiddish, 1586-1987.”

For more information on the books or to purchase them, visit the Jewish Book Council’s website