Bob Simon '62 reporting from the field and with his beloved grandson, Jack.
Bob Simon '62 reporting from the field and with his beloved grandson, Jack.

Family of Journalist Bob Simon ’62 Endows Scholarship

To acknowledge Brandeis’ central role in launching the career of one of America’s most respected journalists, the family of late CBS newsman Bob Simon ’62 made a generous gift to endow a scholarship in his name at the university.

At Brandeis, Simon was a studious history major and devotee of Professor Herbert Marcuse, the renowned political theorist and philosopher. By the time Simon graduated, he was one of the university’s first students to be elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

“It all began for Bob at Brandeis. It was the cradle of his life and career,” says his wife, Françoise, who made the gift along with their daughter, Tanya. “It formed him and informed him. He found his voice at Brandeis.”

The Robert D. Simon ’62 Endowed Scholarship will provide financial support for first-generation Brandeis students. Simon, a native of the Bronx, was the first member of his family to attend college.

“We thank Françoise and Tanya for this gift in honor of one of Brandeis’ most prominent alumni,” says Nancy Winship, P’10, P’13, senior vice president of institutional advancement. “This scholarship will help ensure that a Brandeis education is affordable and accessible to all, a foundational commitment of the university and a principle that is important to the Simon family.”

Although Simon briefly contemplated a career in academia after graduating from Brandeis, the course of his life was changed by the two years he spent in France as a Fulbright Scholar, followed by a stint with the American Foreign Service. He joined CBS News in 1967, beginning a 48-year career that generated multiple awards, including three Peabody Awards, 27 Emmys and universal recognition as television journalism’s leading foreign correspondent.

Simon reported from 67 countries, and covered wars and crises across the globe, including the Vietnam conflict, the Yom Kippur War and the student uprising in China’s Tiananmen Square. At the outset of the Gulf War in 1991, he spent more than a month in solitary confinement in an Iraqi prison, an experience he wrote about in his book “Forty Days.” He joined “60 Minutes” in 1996, and was the program’s foreign correspondent when he died tragically in February 2015, after a car-service vehicle in which he was a passenger crashed on the West Side Highway in New York City.

“Above all else, he loved telling stories,” says Tanya, a producer at “60 Minutes.” “He needed to be out in the world, and exploring and meeting people. He didn’t like the press releases, the news conferences and working the halls of Congress.”

Simon never lost his love of learning through reading, a passion his mother, Rose, instilled in him at a young age. She often took her son to the library, and Simon even shared his Brandeis reading lists with her so she could follow along at home. He and Françoise passed on their passion for reading to Tanya, who remembers how the family would spend hours deciding which books to bring with them on vacation.

According to Françoise, Simon’s image as a hard-driving, uncompromising journalist did not square with Simon the family man. When Tanya was younger, he enjoyed telling her fascinating tales from his trips around the world. He was also extremely close to his grandson, Jack, who was 3 1/2 years old when Simon died. They enjoyed reading together, endlessly riding escalators in department stores and disrupting Tanya’s carefully choreographed bedtime routine.

“He didn’t want to be called a grown-up,” Françoise says. “He had this incredible sense of wonder and curiosity about the world, which made him such a good reporter but also allowed him to relate to children so well. He never stopped being a kid.”

Jonathan Cordish and Melissa Fishman Cordish, both '90
Jonathan Cordish and Melissa Fishman Cordish, both '90

Cordish Indoor-Court Gift Is Advantage Brandeis

When former Brandeis tennis star Jonathan Cordish and his wife, Melissa Fishman Cordish, both ’90, decided to make a significant gift to their alma mater, choosing where to direct their money was as easy as an overhead smash to an open court.

The couple recently made the lead gift to support the indoor tennis court refurbishment project at the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center.

“As an athlete, you spend a lot of time with your coach and teammates, and those relationships have a huge impact on your college years,” says Jonathan, who was nationally ranked throughout his Brandeis career. “My wife and I are so grateful for our Brandeis experience, and for me the tennis team was a big part of that.”

Jonathan hopes the gift will not only help the tennis program but will provide a boost to the university as well. “This facility refurbishment helps the tennis team today and in the future,” he says. “It will help the school recruit better student-athletes and improve its reputation, and gives prominence to Brandeis as a leader in athletics.”

Along with Noel Occomy ’89, Jonathan led the tennis team during one of its most successful eras, helping the Judges advance to the NCAA Division III National Team Championships in 1989. Both men participated in the individual national championships on multiple occasions, and Occomy won the national singles title in 1988.

Melissa and Jonathan flourished in the classroom as well. Melissa graduated cum laude with a degree in political science. An English and American literature major, Jonathan graduated summa cum laude, and credits the critical-thinking and analytical skills he learned at Brandeis with supporting him throughout his career. “My Brandeis education was wonderful preparation for how to think, argue, write and persuade effectively,” he says.

Today, Jonathan is director of finance at the Cordish Companies, a fourth-generation family business based in Baltimore that focuses on real estate development, gaming and lodging, entertainment management, and private-equity holdings. He works closely with his father, a former college lacrosse standout, and his two brothers, who were also college tennis players.

“Playing a sport fosters real discipline,” Jonathan explains. “It’s important to be part of something that’s bigger than yourself — it keeps you humble. Playing tennis was the first step in my becoming a mature adult.”

— Emily Evans

Nancy Winship, P'10, P'13, with Marvin Gilmore
Nancy Winship, P'10, P'13, with Marvin Gilmore

¡Buenos Días, Cuba!

Yes, we saw the sights, but this was no mere sightseeing trip.

In late February, I spent a week in Cuba with about two dozen fellow Brandeisians on a trip organized by the Alumni Travel Program. Sure, we visited the Hemingway Museum, learned about the island’s Jewish heritage and toured Havana in vintage cars.

But this journey was so much more than a guided look at popular destinations. Thanks to anthropology professor Elizabeth Ferry, our highly knowledgeable guide, and the intellectual curiosity of my fellow travelers, we delved deeply into Cuba’s history and culture. I came away with an intimate understanding of this fascinating island, its people and its prospects for the future.

Our group was composed of both experienced and novice travelers, all motivated by a sense of adventure and a thirst to learn. I enjoyed getting to know them, and we quickly developed a real camaraderie.

In my many years at Brandeis, I thought I had enjoyed every possible Brandeis experience. But this was really something special. I encourage you to join your fellow Brandeisians on an upcoming Alumni Travel Program trip, to experience your alma mater in a whole new way.

As always, thank you for your generous support of Brandeis.


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

Mark Friedman, P'14
Mark Friedman, P'14

Parents’ Gratitude Leads to Scholarship Support

Brandeis students have unsurpassed access to leading faculty members, both inside and outside the classroom. Mark Friedman, P’14, can attest to that.

During her time at Brandeis, Mark’s daughter, Emma Chad-Friedman ’14, developed close relationships with a number of faculty, particularly Mick Watson, the George and Frances Levin Professor of Psychology and the former dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

“Professor Watson took a special interest in Emma, and he nurtured her passion and interest in psychology and research,” Mark says. “Brandeis delivered a quality education in a very personal way that made a big difference.”

To express their gratitude, Mark and his wife, Ruth Chad, established a generous charitable gift annuity at Brandeis in Watson’s honor. In accordance with the professor’s wishes, proceeds will provide scholarship support for students.

“We wanted to convey the message publicly to Brandeis professors that they are truly appreciated,” Mark says. “Parents do take note of the commitment they display to our children.”

Emma graduated summa cum laude in psychology. She also received the Elliot Aronson ’54 Prize for Excellence in Psychological Research for a study she conducted with Watson that examined the influence of artistic pedagogical methods on children’s intrinsic motivation and creativity.

Since graduation, Emma has worked as a clinical research coordinator at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine. She plans to attend graduate school.

Jessica Willingham '10; Perry Traquina '78, former Board of Trustees chair; Daniel Acheampong '11; and Choon Woo Ha '08, IBS MSF'11.
Jessica Willingham '10; Perry Traquina '78, former Board of Trustees chair; Daniel Acheampong '11; and Choon Woo Ha '08, IBS MSF'11.

Brandeis Leaders Night

Hundreds of alumni, parents, friends and Brandeis National Committee members gathered at Boston’s Seaport World Trade Center for the first Brandeis Leaders Night, a celebration of the “Brandeis idea” and the people whose generosity and dedication have built and sustained the university. David Hackett Fischer, University Professor and Earl Warren Professor of History, delivered a keynote talk about the two people he views as the most transformative leaders in Brandeis’ history: founding president Abram Sachar and Jehuda Reinharz, PhD’72.