‘Let Our Minds Be Bold’

Mike Lovett

In early September, we dedicated sculptor Chris Burden’s monumental Light of Reason in front of the Rose Art Museum. Commissioned for Brandeis and supported by Rose acquisition funds, this inspiring set of restored Victorian street lamps is named for a famous quote by Louis D. Brandeis: “If we would guide by the light of reason, we must let our minds be bold.” The work links the Rose to the rest of the Brandeis campus, literally and symbolically. It is a tangible sign of Brandeis’ historic excellence in the arts and the seamlessness between art, the humanities and the sciences.

As the sun set behind us and the sky turned deep blue, the lights illuminated the campus and caught the collective breath of 1,000 students, faculty, alumni, staff and guests. But this was not the first such glorious illumination. On Orientation’s move-in day, first-year students from around the country and the globe gathered around the sculpture to send aloft on tiny lanterns their hopes for the future at the beginning of their Brandeis career. In that moment, a new Brandeis tradition took root.

Brandeis is a young research university, founded only 66 years ago. We are still creating our traditions. This autumn, the sense of new possibilities blending with our early roots was palpable at other spots on campus. Let me share a few examples.

Our men’s and women’s soccer teams both advanced to the NCAA Tournament. The men, beneficiaries of newly renovated locker rooms provided by alumni, qualified for the third consecutive year, following a 17-2-0 regular season in which they gave up only six goals. They competed in the Sweet 16 round for the third straight year, and this year made it into the Elite Eight. The women went 12-4-2 to reach the NCAAs for the third time in five years. Our teams and their excellent coaches are our heroes.

A generous contribution by Joseph Linsey’s widow, Thelma, allowed us to reopen the Linsey Pool several years ago. This fall, both our men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams won meets for the first time since the reopening. They, too, are heroic, with their drive for excellence paralleling their work in our classrooms and labs. I was delighted to join the large crowd of students, parents and other fans gathered at the Linsey Pool to cheer these student-athletes.

Our trustees, supporters and alumni are our heroes, too. The Hassenfeld family offers a particularly inspiring example. In August, Sylvia Hassenfeld, H’98, a longtime university trustee and supporter, passed away at age 93. Sylvia amplified the power of her family’s multigenerational support of Brandeis by using her extensive network of international contacts to recruit like-minded philanthropists to join the Board of Trustees. Their collective generosity continues to impact our campus every day.

In the fall, Sylvia’s son Alan, the former CEO of the international toy company Hasbro, and chair of Hassenfeld Family Initiatives, made a $2.5 million gift to Brandeis International Business School to establish the Hassenfeld Family Innovation Center. The center will enhance our status as a leading research institution by supporting faculty research and catalyzing innovation on campus. It will also provide new educational opportunities for students.

Our campus is a dynamic blend of the old and the new, supported by a long-standing culture of philanthropy that invigorates our community and enables world-changing research at the undergraduate, graduate and professional levels. It is just what we should expect of ourselves. We do indeed allow our minds, and our hearts, to be bold. Louis D. Brandeis would be very proud of his school.

Frederick M. Lawrence