A Brandeis First: 12 Classes to Celebrate at Reunion 2012

Hundreds of alumni and their families are planning to return to Brandeis June 8–10 for Reunion 2012, an opportunity to renew acquaintances with old friends, reminisce, and learn about the postgraduation lives of classmates. For the first time, Brandeis will host a dozen Reunion classes, as the Class of 1952 — the university’s first graduating class — celebrates its 60th Reunion. The Classes of 1957, 1962, 1967, 1972, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2002 and 2007 will also be back on campus. “We are excited to welcome 12 classes to Brandeis to celebrate their Reunions,” says Leigh Creveling, director of alumni and university relations. “With several new programs in place, we expect this will be our biggest and best Reunion ever!”   To mark Brandeis’ first 60th Reunion, the Office of Communications and the Robert D. Farber University Archives and Special Collections are working on an oral history project that will feature the group affectionately known as the “pioneers.” Class of ’52 Reunion attendees will be interviewed about participating in the “experiment” that was Brandeis in 1948, the university’s early days, and how Brandeis impacted their lives.

Look for your Reunion 2012 brochure in the mail or visit the Reunion 2012 Website for more information.
Judy Cohen ’54, P’85 with Gul Shamim, M.A.’07 of Pakistan
Judy Cohen ’54, P’85 with Gul Shamim, M.A.’07 of Pakistan

Learning — the BOLLI Way

Some come for the intellectual stimulation. Others get involved for the sense of community. But most people — including a growing number of alumni — join the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Brandeis (BOLLI) for the unique combination of classes and kinship.

BOLLI provides more than 500 lifelong learners from the Greater Boston area with stimulating programming in a warm, inviting environment. Courses encompass areas such as literature, the sciences, world religions, sports, the law and ethics.  All courses are taught by the members themselves.

Art Finstein ’67, M.F.A.’04, P’98, P’01, P’08, a retired high-school music teacher, joined BOLLI four years ago — but wishes he had discovered it earlier. He takes classes and also teaches one of the program’s more popular offerings, a course on musical theater. Finstein and his students analyze the music of Broadway shows and study how the songs add to the plays. “I’ve always loved musical theater, and it’s exciting to see so much interest in this specialized subject,” says Finstein, whose wife, Lois ’70, works at Brandeis. “The comments, questions and observations I get during class are so cogent and probing. I think I get more out of the class than the students do.”

He has also taken several courses, his favorites being a class on laughter and another on law and medical ethics that was co-taught by a retired brain surgeon and a law professor. “Sometimes it feels like I’m back in a Brandeis classroom,” Finstein says. “If you look at the list of classes offered, you will find that the vast bulk of them are intellectually oriented rather than skill-oriented.”

For Judy Cohen ’54, P’85, a retired teacher who has been involved with the program since its founding in 1999, BOLLI offers both compelling courses and a real sense of community. “When you come back to BOLLI after the summer break, it’s like watching first-graders greet their friends on the first day of school,” says Cohen, who served for three years as secretary of the BOLLI Council. “There is such a sense of camaraderie in the BOLLI program. It is a special place.”

BOLLI also offers opportunities for members to get involved in other parts of the university. Through the International Friends Program, Cohen has forged close relationships with dozens of students at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. She helps her students, many of whom call her “Mom,” adjust to life in the United States by taking them shopping, showing them around and hosting holiday parties.

Cohen also chairs BOLLI’s mentoring program, which works closely with students at the Brandeis International Business School to help them improve their communications skills. “If you don’t want to sit home and age ungracefully, you should come to BOLLI,” Cohen says. “It’s a place for vibrant people who are ready to meet new friends.”

Visit the BOLLI Website or call (781) 736-2992 for more information about BOLLI programs.

Brandeis Mascot Takes Flight in Search of Young Alumni

Flat Ollie is on the move!

The mascot for Bold (Brandeisians of the Last Decade) has already traveled to Antarctica, Hollywood, Israel, India, Germany and China to help promote the university’s new initiative to further engage young alumni with their alma mater. Ollie has more than 450 Facebook friends and has visited 14 countries and 10 states.

The ever-itinerant Ollie also made an appearance at each of the seven well-attended Bold kickoff events that were held during the winter in northern California, New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago and Miami. More kickoff events are scheduled for later in the year.

“It is exciting to see that our young alumni are so enthusiastic about Bold and so eager to stay involved with Brandeis,” said Nancy Winship, P’10, P’12, senior vice president of institutional advancement. “These young alumni represent the university’s future.”

Bold will address the needs and interests of young alumni through programming such as volunteer opportunities, special events and other enjoyable, engaging activities. The goals of Bold are to strengthen the young alumni community, develop future alumni leaders and cultivate annual giving to Brandeis.

  • You graduated between 2002 and 2011.
  • You see your friends on Skype more than in person.
  • You spend your weekends traveling to bridal showers, weddings and baby showers.
  • You are still paying back student loans.
  • You miss dorm raps, the beer garden and getting days off for holidays you’d never heard of.
  • Everyone at Usdan still knows your name and how you like your quesadilla.
  • You wonder when you became a grown-up.
Photo of alumni and Flat Ollie in Chicago
To help launch the new Bold (Brandeisians of the Last Decade) alumni group, Flat Ollie has hit the road to 
visit thousands of Bold alumni. President Fred Lawrence joined Ollie in welcoming Bold alumni at Brandeis Night in Chicago. Front row (from left): Abra Lyons-Warren ’07, Jennifer Altman ’10, Myka Held ’09 and Sravana Reddy ’06. Back row (from left): Stephen Gelman ’10, President Lawrence, Mike Stark ’10, Michael Werner ’08, Michelle Liberman ’09, M.A.’10, and Rebecca Kalinowski, M.B.A.’10.

Visit the Bold Website for more information.

Taeko Yamamoto
Taeko Yamamoto

Wien Scholar Joins Alumni Board

When Taeko Yamamoto ’91 was 4, her father’s job took the family from Tokyo to North Carolina and later New York. When they returned home after four years, she had all but mastered English and hoped to return to the United States for college.

Accepted to Brown, the University of Pennsylvania and other schools, she chose Brandeis because of the Wien International Scholarship Program, which provides full tuition to promising international students.

While majoring in politics and minoring in Spanish and in American literature at Brandeis, Yamamoto formed lifelong friendships — many of them with other Wien scholars from around the world. “I feel very lucky to have met people from so many different countries and backgrounds,” says Yamamoto, who recently joined the Brandeis Alumni Association Board of Directors.

After graduating, she decided to attend George Washington University Law School.

“Although things continue to improve in Japan, women there don’t have as many opportunities as men, so I felt I needed a professional degree to give me a career edge,” she explains.

At law school, Yamamoto learned to value the open-mindedness of the Brandeis community. “People at Brandeis were really interested in what I had to say. They were open to all ideas and perspectives,” she says. “I really missed that when I left.”

Now a corporate attorney in New York, Yamamoto gives generously of both her time and resources to Brandeis. Believing in the importance of helping others benefit from the same opportunities she had, she not only serves on the Alumni Association board as a member-at-large and sits on its Constituent Relations Committee, but also makes an annual gift to the university.

“It’s stimulating to work with smart, successful people on things that are outside your line of work,” she says. “Plus, I believe it’s important that all alumni support the school. The stronger Brandeis is, the more valuable our degrees are.”