On October 12 the university held a convocation inaugurating the Wien International Scholars Program, which offered scholarships to bring foreign students to Brandeis for a year. George Kennan, former U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, gave the keynote address. He also received an honorary degree, as did Massachusetts senators Leverett Saltonstall and John F. Kennedy.
Wakako Kimoto, one of the first Wien scholars, was sufficiently impressed with Brandeis to stay for her master's degree. After returning home to Japan, she took up a career as a novelist. In 1989 she became the first woman in Japanese history to be elected to a seat in the Diet, and four years later was appointed to serve in Prime Minister Morohiro Hosokawa's cabinet.
One of my first assignments on the music faculty was to evaluate the current student symphony orchestra, for lack of a better name, that rehearsed once a week. It consisted — more or less — of a clarinet, a saxophone, a piano and one or two other instruments; it makes little difference what they were. The sound of the less than distinguished ensemble did not equal the level of enthusiasm they projected. It seemed better for the future of the university if a different format could be found for the performance face of the very impressive music department and my first important act of authority was to disband the "orchestra" and substitute a chamber music program. It was done accordingly, and everyone breathed an appropriate sigh of relief.
"New books for old" was the goal of the Boston and North Shore, Illinois Chapters as they held their first of many used book sales to benefit the Brandeis Libraries. This enterprise would grow into 40 annual chapter sales and three permanent used book stores, generating $500,000 in funds annually. The North Shore sale, believed to be the largest used book sale in the world, attracts 25,000 people each year. For the 1998-99 celebration of Brandeis University's 50th anniversary, the National Women's Committee will publish its first rare book catalogue.
In the spring semester Martin Peretz ’59 completed his tenure as Justice editor-in-chief. During the year of his leadership, the student newspaper had taken a markedly critical stance toward the administration, a posture it largely retained for the rest of the decade. Peretz completed his graduate work at Harvard University, eventually joining the faculty there as a lecturer.
Peretz continued to exercise his talents as a journalist as well, working on the activist journal Ramparts before ideological differences with other writers there compelled him to leave. In the mid-seventies he purchased and assumed editorial control over the influential but financially shaky weekly The New Republic. He gave the magazine a new bite, becoming himself an important voice in national politics and a fierce American advocate for Israel. He has also served as a member of the university’s Board of Trustees, and in 1989, on the 30th anniversary of his graduation, his alma mater awarded him an honorary degree.