A Source of Strength and Pride

Ronald D. Liebowitz
Mike Lovett
Ronald D. Liebowitz

At Brandeis, many events mark summer’s end. Faculty members return to their offices. More students appear on campus. Move-In Day, Orientation, and the first day of classes take place. It is an exciting time of year for us all.

But before any of these annual events happen, the campus is treated to the SciFest Summer Symposium and Poster Session — a source of strength and pride for the university. For the past nine years, the entire Brandeis science community has come together to listen to undergraduates present their summer research findings. SciFest has become the most important event for undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, faculty, researchers, alumni, parents, and friends who want to get to know one another and learn about the sciences at Brandeis.

It was inspiring to see the depth and sophistication of the work of the 123 students who participated in this year’s poster sessions. In a morning session, four alumni told students, faculty, and staff how important their Brandeis experiences had been in jump-starting their successful science careers. As one alumnus put it, “I hit the sweet spot by coming to this university.”

In its reflection of the intellectual rigor of our undergraduate community, SciFest is one of the clearest examples of the university’s value proposition, which can be defined this way: Brandeis is special in the world of higher education because of the excellence of its research and teaching, and the close connections undergraduates are able to forge with doctoral students, postdocs, and even the most prominent professors.

This deep connectivity is certainly true in the sciences, as SciFest demonstrates every summer. But the spirit of collaborative, boundary-crossing intellectual inquiry has flashes, too, in other areas — from the social science research in the lab of Jytte Klausen, the Lawrence A. Wien Professor of International Cooperation, to the artistic work that takes place in our Division of Creative Arts. We will be seeking to create even more opportunities for connectivity in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

In the past two issues of Brandeis Magazine, I have updated you on the Framework for Our Future. The Framework provides the foundation for the university’s long-term success, motivated by the goal of building upon the unique opportunity Brandeis undergraduates have to do consequential scholarly and creative work with our faculty, postdocs, PhD candidates, and staff.

Over the past year, the Framework planning process has included more than 90 faculty, staff, students, and trustees, working in various groups tasked with charting Brandeis’ future. We conducted more than 60 listening sessions with many constituencies to better understand our strengths, goals, and areas in need of improvement. Alumni and friends responded with comments, suggestions, and advice. Since May, the senior leadership team and I have been synthesizing more than 250 recommendations that emerged from this process, weaving them into an actionable plan.

In the coming months, as we share more-detailed updates on the plan, I hope you will keep the image of SciFest in your mind. Brandeis is at an inflection point in its 71-year history, and, if we are to achieve great success in the future, we must communicate more broadly and consistently about the unique educational environment we provide our students.

You play an important role in the future of our students and our institution. You might wish to host an alumni event, mentor a student through the Hiatt Career Center, provide career advice, interview prospective students, or even participate in next year’s SciFest celebration. I hope you’ll get involved.

Best regards,

Ronald D. Liebowitz