Brandeis University: A People's History 1954-1955
The Shape of a Brandeis Education
The Brandeis tradition of providing opportunities to learn from the truly accomplished continued. Leonard Bernstein offered a music composition seminar organized around a subject close to his own heart; he set students the task of writing a musical to Voltaire’s Candide, a project with which he himself was currently consumed.

Brandeis Trustee and UN Delegate Eleanor Roosevelt offered a lecture series entitled “The United Nations Organization.” From her delegate’s perspective, she was able to give students an informed understanding of the workings of the international organization. Once, she related, the Soviet delegate looked her square in the eye and, knowing that everyone in the room knew him to be lying, claimed that workers were dying in the streets of Los Angeles by the hundreds of thousands. Mrs. Roosevelt observed to her students, “It must be difficult to be such a slave.”

But she refused to be discouraged by the UN’s inability to resolve all the international crises it faced. “We shouldn’t be disheartened by the failures of the UN. Failure will teach us to use this machinery better and better. For after all, the UN is just a machine.” Among other notable figures joining the Brandeis faculty that year were Herbert Marcuse, one of the prominent figures of the Frankfurt Institut für Sozialforschung, and the noted historian Henry Steele Commager, who had already served as visiting professor here during the 1950-51 academic year.