Inspiration and Distinction

Ronald D. Liebowitz
Mike Lovett
Ronald D. Liebowitz

Over the past several months, some 300 members of our community — faculty, staff, students, and alumni — have contributed to building upon a vision for Brandeis that I outlined in October: A Framework for Our Future. These members attended listening sessions hosted by three task forces charged with defining the Framework’s major strategic initiatives, and provided feedback through online suggestions and comments.

Although our process is still unfolding, the recommendations that will give specifics to the Framework are starting to crystallize and will ultimately give shape to a multiyear plan for the university. I want to thank the more than 90 students, faculty, staff, and trustees who have worked tirelessly over these past few months to synthesize information gathered in open meetings and from online submissions.

I also want to thank you, our alumni community, for your feedback and engagement, particularly the more than 200 of you who shared thoughtful comments through surveys and conversations. Your perspectives and advice continue to be invaluable. I encourage you to read an update on the work of the Framework task forces in this issue of Brandeis Magazine, and to keep on sharing your thoughts and ideas at

We have had several exciting opportunities this past academic year to look back and commemorate our university’s inspiring history as we marked Brandeis’ 70th anniversary.

In early February, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Department of African and African American Studies. This anniversary weekend not only brought many illustrious speakers to campus for a series of thought-provoking events, it also welcomed 135 Brandeis alumni and a total of 700 participants to campus for robust discussions. It was an experience to meet and reconnect with so many members of the Brandeis community, and to commemorate the founding of such an important anniversary in the university’s history.

In March, a group of 79 current and former Wien Scholars came to Brandeis from around the world to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Wien International Scholarship Program, the first of its kind in higher education. WISP has brought 894 students from 115 different countries to the Brandeis campus since 1958. Members of the Wien family attended the event and reconnected with many of the Wien Scholars they had met decades earlier.

I had the opportunity to meet a large and growing international community of alumni, parents, and newly accepted students when I visited China in April. Brandeis receptions in Beijing and Shanghai each had more than 140 attendees, and Hong Kong more than 80. The energy at each reception was palpable. The Hong Kong reception welcomed from nearby Shenzhen and Guangzhou recently accepted students and their parents, who also expressed great enthusiasm for Brandeis.

It was quite clear that Brandeis is greatly respected in China by those who know about the university. Yet so many of those with whom I met noted that we are not as well-known as we should be, and encouraged greater academic collaboration between Brandeis and Asian universities. I look forward to engaging the question of “Brandeis beyond Boston” as our planning process moves to its next stage.

Every spring at Commencement, we have the opportunity not only to celebrate our graduating seniors and their many achievements but also to recognize inspiring individuals by awarding them honorary degrees. This year, we are delighted to honor Deborah Lipstadt, MA’72, PhD’76, the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, as our Commencement speaker. She will be joined by six other outstanding individuals who represent the highest Brandeis values and ideals. I am thrilled that we have a chance to honor their many achievements and contributions to society.

As we conclude an academic year of accomplishment and distinction, I ask, as I often do, that you engage us. Our future depends on your wisdom, advice, and support. In this my third year, I am convinced more than ever that this is a very special institution, which both deserves and requires your support. I know that, with your help, Brandeis will build upon its past achievements and thrive.

Best regards,

Ronald D. Liebowitz