On Our Way

Nothing is quite like New England in the fall, and a visit to Brandeis only adds to the invigoration.

Homecoming 2015 brought more than 500 alumni and their families back to campus for a range of great athletic and alumni events. Happily, the following weekend’s Fall Fest coincided with our biannual meeting of the Alumni Association board of directors and the presentation of the prestigious Alumni Achievement Awards, although it also marked a season-ending loss by my beloved Toronto Blue Jays.

One of the many perks of being an alumni volunteer is getting to relive our student days by spending time at the place we called home for four years. Even so, lifelong engagement with Brandeis is about much more than feeling nostalgic.

When Brandeis turned 30 years old in 1978, the year I graduated, it had fewer than 10,000 alumni. Unlike other schools along the Charles River, we didn’t have hundreds of years to build an endowment nor tens of thousands of alumni to offer their support. Instead, we benefited greatly from the vision, commitment and investment of the friends, or “foster alumni,” who personally risked a great deal to establish our alma mater.

Today, the Alumni Association is more than 50,000 strong. We are connected through a number of ways — affinity and regional groups, Reunions, online professional and social networks, career services for life, and more. Despite its youth, Brandeis has placed among the top 35 universities nationwide in the U.S. News & World Report rankings since their inception, and is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities.

Now, it’s our turn to steward Brandeis and commit ourselves to taking the institution to even greater heights. As alumni, we have the privilege and the responsibility of honoring the vision and effort of our founders.

We’re ranked in the top 10 percent of alumni giving nationally, so it’s clear we are on our way, but we can and must do better. So get engaged. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (yes, we’re there now, too). Join a Brandeis LinkedIn group. Come to your Reunion, attend an event in your area and make a gift to Brandeis.

I am confident that, once you do, you’ll agree that Brandeis spirit is about much more than nostalgia.


Mark Surchin ’78
President, Brandeis Alumni Association

Trailblazing Alums Honored With Achievement Awards

Human-rights and social-justice activist Roy DeBerry ’70, MA’78, PhD’79, and Susan Weidman Schneider ’65, a founding mother of the pioneering Jewish feminist magazine Lilith, received 2015 Alumni Achievement Awards in October.

The annual award recognizes Brandeis alumni who have made distinguished contributions to their professions or chosen fields of endeavor. It is the highest form of university recognition bestowed exclusively on alumni.

In the past, Alumni Achievement Awards have been given during Reunion weekend in June. This year, the presentation was moved to the Fall Fest weekend to allow students, faculty, alumni and parents attending that celebration to meet the award recipients.

DeBerry was active in the civil rights movement in his native Mississippi, first as a Freedom School student (his teacher was Aviva Futorian ’59, who encouraged him to attend Brandeis), and later as an organizer of the voter registration efforts of the mid-1960s. As the Brandeis Afro-American Society president, DeBerry helped lead the 1969 takeover of the Ford Hall administration building, organized by black students displeased with the racial climate on campus. After earning a master’s degree and a doctorate in political science, he held a series of executive-level positions in state and local government and higher education.

Schneider has served as editor-in-chief of Lilith since its inception in 1976. The award-winning magazine — with the tagline “independent, Jewish and frankly feminist” — examines gender-justice issues in Jewish contexts and speaks with a Jewish voice in the general women’s movement. Schneider has written extensively, in Lilith and elsewhere, about ethnic stereotyping, reproductive freedoms and changing patterns of identity.

“On behalf of all of us at Brandeis, we thank you for inspiring us,” Interim President Lisa M. Lynch told DeBerry and Schneider at the presentation ceremony. “Thank you for all that you have done to change our world and to make it a better place.”

Past Alumni Achievement Award winners include Thomas Friedman ’75, foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times; Roderick MacKinnon ’78, Nobel Prize-winning scientist; Marta Kauffman ’78 and David Crane ’79, co-creators of “Friends”; Robert Zimmer ’68, president of the University of Chicago; Deborah Bial ’87, founder of the Posse Foundation college-access initiative; and Jon Landau ’68, music manager and longtime Bruce Springsteen collaborator.

AA winners
Honorees Roy DeBerry '70, MA'78, PhD'79 (far left) and Susan Weidman Schneider '65 (third from left) with Interim President Lisa M. Lynch and Trustees Chair Perry Traquina '78.

New Alumni Discount at Rabb

Considering a new career, or seeking to advance in your current one? The Rabb School of Continuing Studies now offers a 15 percent tuition discount to Brandeis alumni.

Beginning with the spring 2016 semester, all undergraduate and graduate alumni who register for classes at Rabb’s Division of Graduate Professional Studies will be eligible for the savings.

“We are pleased to offer this benefit to Brandeis alumni looking to enhance their careers,” says Anne Marando, Graduate Professional Studies executive director. “Our online programs are designed for professionals pursuing part-time online master’s degree programs in niche and emerging fields. Working in classes capped at 20 students, students can actively engage with their peers and instructors.”

The highly regarded Rabb School offers 10 master’s degree programs in such applied fields as information technology, analytics and digital marketing. For more information, visit gps-for-alumni.brandeis.edu.

Former teammates Christian Yemga ’11 and Derek Retos ’14 before the men’s basketball alumni game.
Former teammates Christian Yemga ’11 and Derek Retos ’14 before the men’s basketball alumni game.

Back in Their Element: Homecoming 2015

Hundreds of students, alumni and families descended on the Brandeis campus to show their Judges pride during Homecoming 2015 by cheering on the varsity soccer teams, reliving their glory days during alumni contests and laughing with classmates about their youthful hijinks.

“Every year, it seems like attendance at Homecoming doubles,” says Jessica Bergman ’91, chair of the Friends of Brandeis Athletics (FOBA) and a member of the Alumni Association board of directors. “Though the event started small, it’s growing and gaining momentum. My vision for Homecoming is that in five years I won’t be able to find somebody in the crowd, because it will be that big.”

The Homecoming festivities, which were organized by the Department of Athletics, the Brandeis Alumni Association and FOBA, kicked off on Friday, Oct. 17, as the Brandeis soccer teams split a pair of matches against the University of Chicago. The men won, 1-0; the women lost by the same score.

The following day, dozens of former student-athletes returned to campus for spirited alumni basketball, fencing, baseball, softball and tennis contests. Several alumni athletes also participated in a panel discussion, organized by the Hiatt Career Center, to provide career advice to current student-athletes.

In the evening, Brandeisians came together to honor the latest group of inductees into the Joseph M. Linsey Athletics Hall of Fame — former major-league pitcher Nelson Figueroa ’98, tennis star Brenda Schafer ’77, the 1957-58 men’s basketball team, and contributor Israel “Ace” Weinstein.

Saturday ended with a party as members of the Class of 2015 enjoyed their 0-year Reunion, a new tradition that began last year, with other young alumni. “We didn’t want the Class of 2015 to have to wait five years for a formal reunion,” explains Patsy Fisher, vice president of alumni relations. “They miss each other so much that we wanted to provide an opportunity for them to get together sooner.”

On Sunday morning, more than 20 alumni swimmers met for a splash match, then graduates gathered for more soccer as the men’s and women’s teams faced Washington University — the women prevailed, 1-0, and the men fell, 2-0. The weekend culminated with the Homecoming Barbecue and Carnival, complete with a petting zoo, pony rides, a rock-climbing wall and an inflatable corn maze.