The Second Decade

Brandeis University: A People's History: The Second Decade

This 1966 aerial view of the campus centers on the School of Science complex. Features now gone include the Ullman Amphitheater (lower left) and the Town of Waltham reservoir (upper right).

By the close of its first ten years, Brandeis had become more successful than even the most optimistic hopes had foreseen; a 1961 profile of the university in The New York Times called it "an academic prodigy." Worries over attracting enough students gave way to concerns about over-crowding in dorms and classrooms, even as the building boom of the first decade continued into the second. And as its population grew, the university’s distinctive personality came more clearly into focus.

In the button-down 50s, Brandeis had stood out for its bohemian air and the determinedly progressive politics represented by such outspoken faculty as Herbert Marcuse, Irving Howe and Max Lerner. The pages of The Justice were packed with earnest discussions of literature and the arts, philosophy and politics, and the Gen Ed S lecture series continued to bring prominent intellectuals to campus, including John Kenneth Galbraith, Hannah Arendt and Norman Mailer.

The explosion of political feeling in the 1960s hit Brandeis with particular intensity. The optimistic liberalism the university had inherited from the American Jewish community gradually gave way to a sense of urgency and outrage, a passionate need to address all of the charged issues vexing American political life. As Brandeis alumnae like Abbie Hoffmann ’59 and Angela Davis ’65 took positions on the national frontlines, the campus seemed to be in an almost continual state of unrest.

Perhaps nothing illustrated change more clearly than the role of Brandeis President Abram Sachar. During the university's first years, President Sachar had had direct responsibility for every facet of its development. Indeed, it was only owing to his extraordinary energy, strength of will and genius for fund-raising that Brandeis had been able to succeed at all during those uncertain early years. But now that the university had begun to realize his vision for it, his strongly personal leadership style seemed increasingly out of phase with its needs. Against the backdrop of a political climate that increasingly distrusted authority in all of its forms, President Sachar's aggressive leadership, once so indispensable, appeared at best out-of-touch, and at worst, arbitrary and authoritarian. In the university’s 20th year, President Sachar was forced to the bittersweet realization that the university that owed so much to his single-minded devotion had outgrown his leadership.

Students at a party.  Two students are dunking their heads in a basin of water while another student who is looking at the camera has his hand on the head of one of these students. Many others are standing around watching.

Wien Students - Hamilton Quadrangle party October 28, 1958

Pete Seeger standing on a stage playing a banjo and singing before an audience of students.

Pete Seeger December 6, 1959

Israeli Prime Minister Ben-Gurion at Convocation. He is seated, wearing academic regalia as are the other people nearby.  One man is standing next to him talking with him.

Israeli Prime Minister Ben-Gurion at Convocation March 8 & 9, 1960. Brandeis University awarded David Ben-Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel, a honorary degree of Doctor of Laws at a special convocation on March 9, 1960. Ben-Gurion's speech at the convocation was entitled "Science and Ethics: the Conbtribution of Greece, India, and Israel."

A group of cheerleaders in matching costumes pose for the camera in a row, kneeling with one knee up.

Cheerleaders December 6, 1961

Photo of a woman and man in formal dress facing each other at a party in front of a sign that says "Playboy Party with a cutout of a large cartoon bunny holding a champagne glass." The woman holds a bouquet.

Playboy Weekend December 9, 1961

Group photo of Phi Beta Kappa students and faculty at the Phi Beta Kappa Installation. Everyone is wearing academic regalia.

Phi Beta Kappa Installation March 5, 1962

A group of students talking to Martin Luther King, Jr. They are standing in front of a brick wall.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. February 26, 1963

Aerial shot of Spingold Theater Construction March 1964

Aerial shot of Spingold Theater Construction March 1964

Five women wearing matching cowboy hats, holsters, white blouses standing in a row with a campaign poster for Barry Goldwater. Behind them are clusters of balloons.

Mock Republican Convention April 27, 1964

Indira Gandhi speaks to a group of students

Indira Gandhi February 4, 1965

An audience of students watch two wrestlers on a stage.

"Dionysian Orgy" Pary October 29, 1966

Students wearing togas and head wreath dancing at the Dionysian Orgyparty

"Dionysian Orgy" Party October 29, 1966

Actor Morris Carnovsky Trying on Costume. Two men assist.

Actor Morris Carnovsky Trying on Costume March 9, 1967

A speaker at the podium addresses the audience . Professor Herbert Marcuse Lecture Professor of Politics, 1954-1965 May 6, 1967

Professor Herbert Marcuse Lecture Professor of Politics, 1954-1965 May 6, 1967

A student and teacher wearing white shirt and lab coat working in the Physics lab.

Physics Lab March 6, 1968

Students dressed in suits and ties or dresses sit on sofas around a round table.  Stacks of books in the background.

Brandeis Students at College Bowl 1968