Update on Presidential Transition
April 15, 2016
Dear Members of the Brandeis Community,
As the end of the academic year approaches, we want to take a moment of your time to update you on the transition to a new presidency. The two of us have been working together to take full advantage of this transition period, as an opportunity for a new president to become better acquainted with Brandeis and prepare to be at full speed on July 1.
An ongoing series of meetings is contributing greatly to this process. This has included sessions with the deans and other senior administrators, Faculty Senate leaders, Division Heads and Department Chairs in Arts and Sciences, the center and institute directors, Institutional Advancement, the chaplains, and the leaders of the Student Union and the Graduate Student Association, as well as drop-in lunches with students in the Sherman Dining Hall. These have been opportunities to listen and learn, and to begin to develop the personal relationships that are essential at any university, and especially so at Brandeis.
All of this has reaffirmed the excellence of Brandeis, in a multitude of ways. But it has also prompted the question of how we can better communicate this multi-faceted excellence to the larger world. So we have engaged the assistance of Dr. Mark Neustadt, whose specialty is precisely that: helping educational institutions better tell their story. Dr. Neustadt has worked with such schools as Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore, Tufts, Wesleyan (and yes, Middlebury), and will be helping us by conducting research on perceptions of Brandeis, internally and externally, through surveys and focus groups. Some of you will be asked to participate in a focus group in the coming weeks, and we hope you can say yes.
The many meetings have also made clear the high ambitions for Brandeis and the strong belief in its potential. This brings to the fore the question of resources. We have retained the services of Dr. Kermit Daniel, formerly Vice President for Financial Strategy and Budget at the University of Chicago and now working at Incandescent, a consulting firm in New York. He will provide a comprehensive analysis of our costs, revenues, and financial structure and develop a financial model to help us make the most effective use of our resources, even as we work assiduously to enlarge them.
These two consulting arrangements reflect the particular circumstances of the moment, which include not only a transition to a new presidency, but also the impending departure of our chief operating officer (representing one of four major administrator searches in progress). We cannot ask offices and departments to take on demanding special projects as they are doing their utmost to carry forward the necessary work of the University. Consultants should be used sparingly, but the right consultant in the right situation can be extremely valuable.
We also want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been helping with the transition, and to wish all of you a successful completion of the academic year and an opportunity for renewal over the summer months. We eagerly look forward to the exciting work that lies ahead.
Lisa M. Lynch