Getting With the Program(s)

Prominent alumni. Noteworthy venues. Exciting activities.

Over the past year, the Alumni Association has melded these ingredients to produce a series of extraordinary programs that have attracted large crowds, including many recent graduates and first-time attendees.

Actor Tony Goldwyn ’82, Siri co-inventor Adam Cheyer ’88, journalist Margo Jefferson ’68, personal technology columnist Walt Mossberg ’69 and former professional baseball player Nelson Figueroa ’98 have all headlined events during the past 12 months.

“We are proud of our alumni and what they have accomplished in all walks of life,” says Patsy Fisher, vice president of alumni relations. “We want to celebrate them, and give other alumni the opportunity to meet and hear from these talented individuals.”

Settings for recent Alumni Association events have included Fenway Park (site of the Boston-area holiday party); in New York City, the Jewish Museum and the Ping-Pong bar SPiN; ballparks and sports arenas around the country; the U.S. Supreme Court; the Arts Club of Chicago; and museums and theaters from Washington, D.C., to Seattle.

“Whenever possible, we host events at venues that become part of the attraction,” Fisher says.

Fisher’s team has supplemented such traditional favorites as Faculty in the Field and networking get-togethers with a range of novel programs: walking tours, food tastings, bowling and theater outings.

As the quality of Alumni Association offerings reaches an all-time high, the quantity of events has also grown. Alumni in the New York area had 29 events to choose from in 2015, nearly double the total number of events the previous year. Brandeis held five holiday parties, adding gatherings in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., to the long-standing events in Boston and New York.

In New York City, in particular, an increasing number of alumni volunteers are organizing, publicizing and hosting events in and around the area.

“We are grateful that alumni are stepping up to drive our programming in New York and elsewhere,” Fisher says. “Together, we have built a strong network.”

Making Waves

According to Merriam-Webster, a ripple effect is “a situation in which one event causes a series of other events to happen,” or “a spreading, pervasive and usually unintentional effect or influence.”

So, what has this to do with the Brandeis community? A lot, actually.

We know how much the Alumni Association offers us: career services, a network of nearly 50,000 like-minded graduates, hundreds of annual events and lifelong-learning opportunities scheduled around the globe, travel and insurance discounts, and much more. These tangible benefits and services we enjoy represent the most obvious ripple effect of having graduated from Brandeis.

Less obvious is the ripple effect that each and every one of us can create — one alum to another, or alum to student or prospective student. This is arguably the more important connection and, if made in the right spirit, much more rewarding.

Here’s why: Unlike other top-tier universities, Brandeis is young. Our reputation is not defined by hundreds of years of history. It’s defined by us, which is both a privilege and a responsibility.

Let’s commit ourselves to creating the best possible ripple effect for Brandeis. It’s not hard to do, and the effects can be great. Meet with a recent graduate, and share your Brandeis network. Submit a Class Note to Brandeis Magazine, and watch others follow suit (the number of Class Notes submissions is up 30 percent in this issue, thanks to the outreach of individual class correspondents). Be an ambassador by sharing a positive Brandeis story on social media, and enhance our collective sense of pride and camaraderie. Make an annual gift to increase our alumni-participation rate, and encourage fellow alumni to do the same. Change the trajectory of a student’s life by supporting a scholarship, and know that this grateful student is likely to help other students in the future.

If we all do our part, we can create a ripple effect that honors and celebrates the unique experiences we share as Brandeisians.


Mark Surchin ’78
President, Brandeis Alumni Association

Hail to the Chief

Goldwyn photo
In Southern California, more than 200 alumni and friends met Tony Goldwyn ’82, who plays President Fitzgerald Grant III on the TV show “Scandal.” From left: Andrew Flagel, senior vice president of students and enrollment; Nancy Winship, P’10, P’13, senior vice president of institutional advancement; Alice Kelikian, associate professor of history; and Tony.

Your Serve

ping pong photo
More than 125 Bold (Brandeisians of the Last Decade) alumni played Ping-Pong and mingled at an event hosted by Dan and Sarah Rueven, both ’09, at SPiN, in New York City’s Gramercy Park.

Fenway Fun

fenway photo
Nearly 200 alumni and friends attended the Alumni Club of Greater Boston’s 16th annual holiday reception at Fenway Park. Here, Emily and Benjamin Gurvis, both ’10, pose with the World Series trophies the Red Sox won in 2004, 2007 and 2013.

What Can I Help You With?

cheyer photo

In San Francisco, Siri co-creator Adam Cheyer ’88 told more than 50 alumni and friends how attending Brandeis rekindled his love for computer science. (After the event, he was spotted asking Siri for an update on that night’s Golden State Warriors game.) From left: Patsy Fisher, vice president of alumni relations; Adam; and Len Rosenberg ’89, Alumni Club of Northern California president.

Alumna Author

margo jefferson photo

Pulitzer Prize winner Margo Jefferson ’68 (right) visited campus to speak to 150 students, alumni, faculty and staff about her highly acclaimed memoir, “Negroland.” Assistant professor Jasmine Johnson interviewed Margo about her book, which takes a close look at the intersection of class and race.

Louis Lecture

breen photo

In Atlanta, alumni, parents and friends attended a Faculty in the Field program led by Dan Breen, lecturer in legal studies. The discussion focused on Justice Louis D. Brandeis’ ideas about socially conscious businesses. Bethany and Robert Vincent, P’16, hosted the event at their home.

Reunion 2016 was picture-perfect.
Reunion 2016 was picture-perfect.

Reunion 2016: Time After Time

Alumni from across the globe returned home to Brandeis for Reunion 2016, joyously reconnecting with friends both old and new, and reminiscing about their days as students.

More than 1,250 guests, some of whom traveled from as far away as Paris, Tokyo and Cairo, packed the Brandeis campus for three days of pride- and nostalgia-inducing activities and programs beginning June 3. Events included Alumni College, the Ralph Norman Barbecue, the Alumni of Color Reception, a conversation with Interim President Lisa M. Lynch, tours of the Rose Art Museum, class dinners and gatherings, and a spirited game of kickball.

The 12 Reunion classes — 1956, 1961, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001, 2006 and 2011 — raised more than $3.5 million in gifts and pledges (as of May 31) in support of the university.

Vic Ney ’81, P’11, and his daughter, Rebecca ’11, celebrated their Reunion years together at the barbecue over burgers and watermelon. Vic has attended every Reunion since graduation, chairing all of them except his first. He grew nostalgic talking about his Friday-night class gathering at the Stein.

“The room was filled with an incredible amount of warmth,” he said. “Everyone was so excited to be with one another. The warmth was even stronger than it has been in years past, and I think it will continue to build at future Reunions.”

For Marge Housen ’56, a former trustee and co-chair of the 60th Reunion, the weekend represented a welcome opportunity to visit with friends from an important time in her life.

“We’ve gone our separate ways since graduation, but our ideas and our futures were formed during our four years at Brandeis,” she said. “It’s important to remember how special those campus days were. No matter how far we travel from this place and how much time passes, the ties that bind us began here.”

— Emily Evans