Change Agents Step Up for the Catalyst Fund

Two prominent alumni members of the university’s Board ofTrustees have made significant gifts to help ensure a Brandeis education remains accessible and affordable.

Board chair Perry Traquina ’78 and his wife, Robin, and vice chair Jonathan Davis ’75, and his wife, Margot, designated their gifts to the Catalyst Fund, a $100 million fundraising initiative launched last year.

The Catalyst Fund is raising money for scholarships (for undergraduate students) and fellowships (for graduate students) so Brandeis can continue to offer talented students a world-class education at a reasonable cost, maintain its historic commitment to educating the best students without regard to financial need and attract a diverse student population.

“As the beneficiary of a scholarship myself, I understand the power of a Brandeis education to change the arc of a young person’s life,” says Traquina, the retired chair and CEO of Wellington Management. “Supporting our students and maintaining our commitment to accessibility and affordability are the university’s top priorities.”

Through the years, the Traquinas have supported dozens of Brandeis students through endowed scholarships they established, and they generously support the Alumni Annual Fund.

The Davises have also given to a number of key Brandeis initiatives, including scholarships, construction of the Village residence hall, and the Alumni Annual Fund, and they endowed the Harold and Bernice Davis Chair on Aging and Neurodegenerative Disease to honor Jon’s parents.

“The Catalyst Fund allows Brandeis to maintain its foundational commitment to admitting the most promising students, regardless of their individual financial situations,” says Davis, founder and chief executive of the Davis Companies, and co-chair of the Board of Trustees’ institutional advancement committee. “It’s in Brandeis’ interest to make certain the diversity of the student body is reflective of the wider world around us.”

During the 2013-14 academic year, Brandeis awarded nearly $60 million in grants and scholarships to undergraduate students. Nearly two out of every three students at the university receive financial aid.

traquina photo

Perry ’78 and Robin Traquina (third and fourth from left).


Davis photo

Jonathan ’75 (left) and Margot Davis (third from left).

Pair of Bequests Give $7M for Brandeis Scholarships

Thanks to the generosity of Genevieve Thalberg, of Southington, Conn., and Norma Reinfeld Lachow, of Palm Beach, Fla., Brandeis will continue to provide opportunities for promising students.

In accordance with the terms of Thalberg’s and Lachow’s wills, Brandeis received more than $7 million upon their deaths last year. The two bequests will help to support students through scholarships, the university’s top fundraising priority.

“Genevieve and Norma cared deeply about our students and identified strongly with the mission and history of Brandeis University,” says Myles Weisenberg ’78, vice president of development. “Our students will benefit from their commitment to ensuring that promising students will be able to pursue a Brandeis education, regardless of their financial circumstances.”

Thalberg, a lifelong resident of Southington, who died in April 2014, was a frequent visitor to campus, often meeting with the students she supported through the Reuben and Genevieve Thalberg Endowed Scholarship. She was a member of the Board of Fellows and helped arrange events for Brandeis supporters in Connecticut. Her husband, Reuben, a beloved physician in Southington, was known for never turning away patients, even if they were unable to pay. When he died in 1976, flags around town were lowered to half-staff in his honor, and one of the town’s elementary schools was named for him.

Lachow, who died in May 2014 in Palm Beach, was a life member of the Brandeis National Committee. She first joined the organization’s chapter in Monmouth County, N.J., in 1957. Norma was predeceased by her husband, Nathan. She leaves her son, Jay Reinfeld.

Nancy Winship, P’10, P’13
Nancy Winship, P’10, P’13

A Defining Place

In recent months, as I traveled around the country meeting with members of the Brandeis family, I have been struck by the deep reservoir of devotion and commitment people have for the university. They often say their relationship with Brandeis has had a profound impact on their lives.

Grateful alumni tell me their Brandeis education prepared them for an ever-changing world, providing them with the ability to dissect complex issues and learn new skills. They say the fellow students they met at Brandeis — whether 35 or five years ago — remain their closest friends.

I hear wonderful stories from appreciative parents, whose children are enjoying transformative experiences at Brandeis, in and out of the classroom. Their students are immersed in campus life and acquiring the intellectual tools necessary to make a difference in the world.

The university’s friends tell me about the special relationships they have built with the students they support through scholarships or fellowships. These donors feel a special satisfaction when they receive a letter from a student thanking them for the investment in their education.

This positive feeling about Brandeis must be spreading. Last year, the university received more than 10,000 applications from high-school seniors around the world, an all-time high. This year, 5 percent more students applied for 850 spots in the Class of 2019.

Esteemed historian David Hackett Fischer, University Professor and the Earl Warren Professor of History, and a member of the faculty for more than a half-century, says today’s Brandeis students are brighter than ever. He is impressed by their intellect, capacity to learn and inquisitive nature.

Going forward, Brandeis has much to build upon. The university will continue to be informed by the principles of academic excellence and the pursuit of social justice espoused by our founders in the American Jewish community.

During the ongoing presidential transition, we will continue to rely on the generosity of our alumni, parents, trustees, friends and members of the Brandeis National Committee to support the university.


Nancy Winship, P’10, P’13
Senior Vice President of Institutional Advancement

Scholarship Appreciation Luncheon

Students and the donors who support their scholarships had the chance to catch up at the annual Scholarship Appreciation Luncheon. D’Andre Young ’15, a member of Posse Atlanta’s first Brandeis Posse, and Phoenicia Lewis, Heller MA’16, a Frieze Fellow, shared their stories with more than 200 attendees. Trustee Michael Frieze and his wife, Linda, hosted the event.

Lillian Sober-Ain ’69
Lillian Sober-Ain ’69

Offering Support for World Beats, Spiritual Peace

Long before she began supporting Brandeis’ MusicUnitesUs program, Lillian Sober-Ain ’69 appreciated the power of rhythm, melody and song to bring together people from diverse backgrounds and foster cultural understanding.

As a Brandeis freshman, Sober-Ain enjoyed spending time after dinner in North Quad, where a group of talented musicians led by drummer Ricardo Millett ’68, Heller MSW’70, Heller PhD’74, would congregate to drum and dance. Sober-Ain, a talented flutist and pianist, immersed herself in these experiences.

“The music was part of my effort to develop myself as a whole person, to become someone other than the shy, studious girl I was in high school,” she remembers. “I was drawn to these students of color and their music. It was an important part of my personal journey.”

Today, Sober-Ain provides generous financial support for MusicUnitesUs, which seeks to further understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures through music. Founded by music professor Judy Eissenberg in 2003, the program features an intercultural residency series, a world-music series and a public-school education program that brings local high-school students to Brandeis for diverse music performances.

“MusicUnitesUs stands for what I have always believed in — the richness of mixing different classes, colors and cultures,” Sober-Ain says. “As the groups interact with one another, something new and wonderful can be created. The power of music includes its spiritual, consciousness-altering properties, and its ability to create a sense of community.”

In other words, music does indeed unite us.

Earle Kazis ’55
Earle Kazis ’55

Kudos for Earle Kazis

A group of grateful senior administrators and faculty visited Earle Kazis ’55 at his New York City office to thank the former Brandeis trustee for his longtime support of the university and Brandeis International Business School. Kazis is celebrating his 60th Reunion this year.