A Catalyst for Growth

Mike Lovett

Since we opened our doors in 1948, Brandeis has been a destination for outstanding students from across the country and around the world. This has never been more true than today. More and more inspired and inspiring young people see Brandeis as a catalyst for their academic ambitions, career aspirations and personal goals.

This year, we received more than 10,000 applications — the largest pool in our history and a 5.3 percent increase over last year. By the May 1 commitment deadline, our class was fully enrolled. For the first time in more than a decade, we did not turn to our waitlist to fill the class. This is remarkable, especially since many of our peer institutions are receiving flat or declining numbers of applications.

I look forward to welcoming the members of the Class of 2018 on campus in late August and discovering the many ways they will enrich our vibrant community. Like their predecessors at Brandeis, they will experience challenges and opportunities in creating the lives they have imagined. But if the Class of 2014 is any indication, our incoming first-years will also grow in ways they never imagined.

In this year’s Senior Class video, graduating students recount their time here. One of the questions they answer is “What does Brandeis mean to me?” Brandeis is about finding friends, home and themselves, they tell us — in other words, the university is a catalyst for personal development. As Jason Dick explains in the video, “I don’t know who’d I be, where I’d be, if I hadn’t come here.”

The experience of an intimate, intense education at a research university uniquely fosters self-discovery. Relationships with teachers, mentors and classmates enable our students to acquire the intellectual firepower and self-confidence to continually push back the boundaries of their known worlds.

How do we measure their accomplishments? We could begin with the objective metrics, such as the 69 graduating seniors elected to Phi Beta Kappa; the four Fulbrighters in the Class of 2014 alone; and our two Davis Peace Prize winners, who were awarded $10,000 to initiate peace projects in India and Israel this year.

Impressive numbers like these are a source of great personal and institutional pride. Yet even they do not convey the full impact of a Brandeis education, which is also about lifelong connections. Read “Tales of Louie Love” to discover just how deep and lasting these connections can be!

Making connections starts with providing a Brandeis education to as many deserving students as possible. It is one of our greatest challenges, and we have no higher priority. Brandeis was founded on the principle that a top-notch education should be open to all. In many cases, student and alumni achievements would never be realized without financial aid.

Today, we maintain our historic commitment to access by ensuring that scholarships are available to students who would otherwise be unable to attend. Fully two-thirds of our undergraduates receive some level of financial aid. Recognizing the transformational power of a Brandeis education, we launched in March the Catalyst Fund for Financial Aid to raise $100 million for scholarships. Generous donors and friends have given this initiative a strong start by helping us raise more than one-third of the total goal. The initiative is critical to our mission: to change the arc of our students’ lives.

As classes from past years gathered on campus for Reunion this June, I was, as usual, impressed by our alumni’s achievements and warmth. Your love of your alma mater, compassion for others and genuine interest in the next generation of Brandeisians make this community truly distinctive. I hope you will always think of Brandeis as a catalyst — for intellectual growth, for reconnecting and forging new friendships, and for rekindling your passions.

Frederick M. Lawrence