Around Campus

David Engerman awarded Guggenheim Memorial Foundation FellowshipPosted: April 22, 2014
Photo/Mike Lovett

Professor David Engerman

David Engerman, the Ottilie Springer Professor of History, has been awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for his achievements in historical research. 

Guggenheim Fellowships are grants made for a minimum of six and a maximum of 12 months to give scholars and artists blocks of time to work on selected projects. 

“I'm honored to be the latest in a long line of Brandeis faculty members to receive the fellowship,” Engerman says. 

Engerman plans to take the Fellowship in 2016. His project, “Planning for Plenty: The Economic Cold War in India,” explores the ways in which superpower aid competition in the newly independent nations revealed important elements — and key contradictions — of the global Cold War.  

“The Guggenheim Fellowship is one of the most prestigious awards in the country,” says Jane Kamensky, the Harry S. Truman Professor of American Civilization. “Only four American historians received the honor this year, and it is fitting that David Engerman is among them: His book project on the U.S. and India during the Cold War represents a bold departure for him, an expansion of his compass as a scholar. The Guggenheim recognizes careers in full flower and rewards scholars and artists who take exciting risks. The Foundation could not have chosen a more deserving recipient.” 

Engerman is among 177 scholars, artists and scientists from 56 disciplines awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship this year, chosen from a pool of almost 3,000 applicants. Since 1925, the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has granted more than $315 million in Fellowships to 17,700 scholars. 

Nearly 100 Brandeis faculty and alumni have been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, including David DeRosier, professor emeritus of biology; Irving Epstein, Henry F. Fischbach Professor of Chemistry; Robin Feuer Miller, the Edytha Macy Gross Professor of Humanities; John Plotz, professor of English and Eric Chasalow, the Irving Fine Professor of Music.

Israeli Parliament members visit BrandeisPosted: April 7, 2014
Photos/Heratch Ekmekjian

From left, Nachman Shai, Michal Rozin, Itzik Shmuli, Fred Lawrence, Jay Ruderman ’88, Shimon Solomon, Shulamit Mualem Rephaeli, and Shimon Ohayon

Six members of the Israeli Knesset were in Waltham on Sunday, March 31, to meet with Brandeis leaders, faculty members and alumni. The visit was part of the Ruderman Fellows Program, an initiative of the Ruderman Family Foundation, in partnership with Brandeis, to create and strengthen connections between Israeli leaders and the American Jewish community.

President Frederick M. Lawrence and his wife Kathy hosted a dinner and discussion for Itzik Shmuli and Nachman Shai (Labor); Michal Rozin (Meretz); Shimon Ohayon (Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu); Shimon Solomon (Yesh Atid); and Shuli Mualem-Refaeli (Bayit Yehudi).

Joining them were Jay Ruderman ’88, Barbara Gaffin ’76, Alex Goldstein ’06 and Michal Bineth-Horowitz of the Ruderman Family Foundation, and several Brandeis faculty members and senior leaders: Amy Sales, associate professor; Jonathan Sarna, the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History; Ted Sasson, senior research scientist; Len Saxe, Klutznick Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies; and David Bunis ’83, senior vice president, chief of staff and chief legal officer. Also attending the dinner were Brandeis alumni Jacqueline Hallo ’82, Lawrence Kraus ’84, Jonathan Landman ’82 and his wife Joan Balaban, Eric Nadel ’84, Marianne Paley ’85, and Sara Smolover ’82.

The Ruderman Fellows also had meetings with Governor Deval Patrick, Mayor Marty Walsh, Congressman Michael Capuano and community leaders and participated in public forum in Boston before leaving for meetings in New York.

Science Posse goes to WashingtonPosted: April 1, 2014

Brandeis President Frederick M. Lawrence, Aissatou Ka '13, Gloriya Nedler '12, Nana Owusu '12, Usman Hameedi '12, Nicholas Medina ’14, and Vice Provost Irv Epstein in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington.

Brandeis President Frederick M. Lawrence, Vice Provost Irv Epstein, and several current and former Brandeis students met with members of President Obama’s administration in Washington yesterday to talk about Brandeis’ Science Posse program.

The meeting, sponsored by the White House and the Posse Foundation, focused on the work of the Posse Foundation to increase the number of undergraduate urban students who pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) degrees. It also provided a forum for the presidents from 10 universities that have a Science Posse program to discuss best practices and program-related challenges.

Joining Lawrence and Epstein, the Henry F. Fischbach Professor of Chemistry, at the meeting in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building were Nicholas Medina ’14, Aissatou Ka '13, Usman Hameedi '12, Gloriya Nedler '12, and Nana Owusu '12, who shared their thoughts on being a member of a Science Posse.

Brandeis alumna Deborah Bial ’87 founded the Posse Foundation in 1989 after witnessing the challenges inner-city students faced in accessing and graduating from college.  In collaboration with Epstein, it created the first Science Posse program in the nation at Brandeis in 2006. Brandeis’ Science Posse has served as a national model and continues to be adopted by universities around the country.

Ulka Anjaria awarded the Charles A. Ryskamp Research FellowshipPosted: March 24, 2014
Ulka Anjaria
Ulka Anjaria
Ulka Anjaria, assistant professor of English, was chosen by the American Council of Learned Societies to receive the Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowship for her study of contemporary literature and popular culture in India. This fellowship is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
"The Unfinished Bridge: Realism and Futurity in India," focuses on literature and cultural production in India since 2000 and discusses how novels, films and television engage social concerns even as the public sphere becomes increasingly gentrified.
Naghmeh Sohrabi awarded the competitive Mellon New Directions Fellowship Posted: March 24, 2014
Naghmeh Sohrabi
Naghmeh Sohrabi
Naghmeh Sohrabi, the Charles (Corky) Goodman Professor of Middle East History and associate director for research at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies, was awarded the competitive Mellon New Directions Fellowship from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The fellowship is awarded to exceptional mid-career faculty in the humanities and social sciences for training in subjects outside their specialization. This year, the Mellon New Directions was given to only 10 faculty nationally.
Sohrabi will use the fellowship to receive training in cultural anthropology and ethnographic research methods for her new book project about the 1979 Iranian revolution. Her book aims to capture the experience of the revolution by weaving into the existing historical arc the experience of a wide array of political actors and ordinary people who were living in Iran in the years leading up to the revolution.  As a New Directions fellow, Sohrabi will be receiving training and conducting research at The Sorbonne, University of Oxford and Iran.
Congresswoman Clark visits Brandeis to learn about science education initiatives, meet with studentsPosted: March 21, 2014

Provost Steve Goldstein, Congresswoman Katherine Clark, Senior Vice President David Bunis and Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Andrew Flagel meet at Brandeis.

Massachusetts Congresswoman Katherine Clark visited Brandeis on Thursday, March 20 to learn more about its science education initiatives, including the Science Posse program, to meet with students, faculty and senior administrators, and to tour campus, including the Rose Art Museum.

“Brandeis University is a national leader in STEM education that is a crucial economic steppingstone for our future workforce,” said Congresswoman Clark. “It was wonderful to meet some of Brandeis’ Science Posse students and see the university’s commitment to access to higher education. Massachusetts is fortunate to have Brandeis as a vital partner in our continued economic and education success.”
Nielsen Greater China president discusses Chinese consumer and media marketsPosted: March 19, 2014
Photo/Mike Lovett

Yan Xuan, P’17

Yan Xuan, P’17, president, Greater China, for Nielsen, was at Brandeis on March 14 to talk about working and doing business in China and to share Nielsen’s insights into the diversity of the Chinese consumer and media markets. More than 50 undergraduate and graduate students attended the event, which was sponsored by the Hiatt Career Center.

“There’s no such thing as the Chinese consumer,” said Yan. He added that marketers and companies must understand the traditional and local channels to get at the heart of their customers’ motivations for spending. As the first and foremost big data company, he explained that Nielsen is uniquely positioned to provide these insights to its clients.

Yan also responded to individual students’ questions about the changing media landscape in China, Nielsen’s strategy for staying competitive in the future, and his own career path, including how he came to be at Nielsen. “What could be more powerful and inspirational than helping people to live a better life,” he said of his work and the mission of Nielsen.

Nielsen is currently accepting applications from graduating students for its competitive Graduate Induction Program (deadline is March 31). Learn more and apply online.

Yan, who is also the father of a current first year student at Brandeis, mentioned that he hopes to create an online network of Brandeis parents living in China to share insights and advice about their children’s Brandeis experiences. He invited the students in attendance to connect with him on WeChat, China's instant messaging platform.

Brandeis also provides parents with opportunities to stay connected with the University, both on-campus and online, via the Brandeis Parents Portal.

Celebrating Moody’s art and legacyPosted: March 14, 2014

Members of the Brandeis community attended a gallery reception on March 8 to celebrate the work of Robert Moody, the Blanche, Barbara and Irving Laurie Chair in Theater Arts. They also used the occasion to thank Moody, who is retiring this spring, for his 40 years of contributions to Brandeis, the theater arts program and its students and faculty.

In addition to being recognized for his skills as a teacher, Moody is a nationally acclaimed scenic artist. Drawings, paintings and scenic artwork from his 50 year career in theatre, television, and opera are being showcased in “Work, Now and Then: Bob Moody Retrospective.” The exhibit will be in the Dreitzer Gallery in the Spingold Theater Center through March 22.

Brandeis launches leadership incubator for Russian-speaking Jewish communal professionalsPosted: March 10, 2014
The Brandeis-Genesis Institute for Russian Jewry, in partnership with the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program at Brandeis University, has announced the launch of a professional development program for Russian-speaking Jewish communal professionals.

With support from the Genesis Philanthropy Group and the Jim Joseph Foundation, the Brandeis Jewish Leadership Incubator (BJLI) will host a 12-month fellowship for Russian-speaking professionals who work at Jewish communal organizations in the United States and Canada. The program, designed for individuals with one to five years of professional experience, will help to develop the skill-set, knowledge, and strong network of peers that is critical for professional advancement within the North American Jewish community.

“To date, Russian speakers remain underrepresented in the organized American Jewish community — especially its leadership,” said Victor Vitkin, executive director of the Brandeis-Genesis Institute for Russian Jewry. “The disproportionately low number of Russian-speaking communal professionals deprives Jewish organizations of engaging an exceptional pool of talent. By advancing Russian speakers in the professional Jewish world, the leadership training program will create important opportunities for mutual understanding and enrichment for all segments of the American Jewish community.”

The fellowship will encompass intensive professional seminars, overseas educational travel and a year-long cycle of online instruction. BJLI curriculum will emphasize core management and leadership skills in the context of Jewish teaching, as well as American and Russian Jewish history. Prominent faculty from Brandeis University, leaders from major Jewish organizations, and leading practitioners in a variety of relevant fields will teach the BJLI courses and modules.

The program is scheduled to begin in January 2015. Up to 15 candidates will be accepted into the first cohort, with the goal of representing organizations from the range of Jewish communal institutions across North America.

Brandeis University is a national leader in recruiting and training Russian-speaking students for leadership positions in the U.S. and globally. Under the aegis of the Brandeis-Genesis Institute for Russian Jewry, Russian-speaking college students and young adults develop their leadership potential and enrich their knowledge of Russian Jewish heritage and the Jewish community. The Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program provides residential graduate leadership training in a dual-degree program combining intensive academics, field-based experiences, and international travel to prepare visionary leaders for the 21st century Jewish community.

“Hornstein is deeply experienced in training Jewish leaders and innovators,” said Ellen Smith, Hornstein director and associate professor in Brandeis’ Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. “The Brandeis Jewish Leadership Incubator is the next important step in bringing Russian-speakers to these opportunities and networks, to the advantage of the entire Jewish community.”

“In launching the Brandeis-Genesis Institute for Russian Jewry, we were looking to create systemic change in opportunities available in higher education for engaging Russian-speaking Jews in North America,” said Ilia Salita, executive director of Genesis Philanthropy Group in North America. “The combination of this, now prominent, institute focused on Russian Jewry with the premier program training leaders for the Jewish community, is truly unique. As the home of such an innovative initiative, Brandeis University is exceptionally well-placed to ensure that BJLI makes a significant contribution to nurturing the next generation of effective Russian-speaking Jewish communal professionals.”

“Creating more vibrant Jewish life fundamentally entails developing Jewish leaders from diverse backgrounds with the skill sets to engage 21st century Jewish communities,” added Chip Edelsberg, executive director of the Jim Joseph Foundation. “The BJLI will help these efforts significantly by offering this unique leadership training program for Russian-speaking Jewish community professionals. These leaders will have the opportunity to grow together as a cohort, learn from expert instructors, and experience Brandeis University’s dynamic academic environment.”

Ambassador Power highlights Mangok Bol’s plight in UN speech Posted: March 7, 2014
Photo/Mike Lovett

Ambassador Samantha Power highlighted Mangok Bol, MS ’13 in a speech on March 7 at the United Nations Security Council debate on children in armed conflict. Bol is currently in South Sudan, searching for his three nieces and a nephew, aged 2 through 8, who were abducted by militants in a raid that killed their parents. 

“Our hearts go out to Mangok Bol, a former lost boy, now living in Boston, who has returned to his home village in South Sudan to try to find his nieces and nephews who’ve been abducted by militants from a competing ethnic group,” Power told to the council. 

Power’s full statement can be read here

An interview with Bol, recorded from Juba, South Sudan, aired on WBUR’s Here and Now on Monday, March 10. 

A fundraising site has been created to assist with expenses related to Bol's efforts to return the children to their family. Friends and colleagues can contribute online at:

Chad Williams speaks at White House panel on African American veteransPosted: Feb. 28, 2014

Professor Chad Williams, second from right

Chad Williams, chair of the African & Afro-American Studies Department, spoke at an event on Monday, Feb. 24 hosted by the White House Office of Public Engagement and held at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C. 

The event, sponsored by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, featured a screening of the new documentary “Veterans of Color.” Williams participated in a post-film discussion about African American veterans. 

Williams is an expert on African Americans and the military. His first book, “Torchbearers of Democracy: African American Soldiers in the World War I Era,” was published in 2010. 

Update on crosswalk safetyPosted: Feb. 24, 2014

As many in our community already know, on Feb. 5 University students were injured in a pedestrian accident while crossing South Street in the crosswalk by Linsey Pool.

The safety of our community is paramount, and Brandeis immediately took steps to reach out to the City of Waltham to address safety issues in the area. We are grateful to the Waltham Police Department for their stepped-up enforcement of vehicle speed limits and crosswalk safety in the area, particularly around dusk, which have been very helpful in reinforcing to drivers and the Brandeis community that there is a need to exercise extreme caution in the area.

Ed Callahan, director of Public Safety, has met with City of Waltham officials to gain a better understanding of enhancements that can be made at this crosswalk to enhance pedestrian visibility and safety. They agreed upon a number of steps that will be taken, including:

  • Enhancement of street lights on South Street from the Epstein Center to the crosswalk – in process.
  • Addition of rectangular rapid-flash beacons to the existing crosswalk light  poles. These beacons resemble police vehicle strobe lights and have been shown to increase drivers’ attention.
  • Installation of dedicated spotlights over the crosswalk.
  • Installation of a motion detector light activation system, eliminating the need for pedestrians to physically push the button to activate the lighting system.
  • Rapid installation of larger signs on each crosswalk pole instructing pedestrians to push the button to activate crossing lights to enhance pedestrian use of the lights prior to installation of the motion detector system.

These enhancements will be made as quickly as possible in compliance with city policies and procedures and with regard to weather conditions and the possible need for temporary street closures.