Smiling older man in blue shirt reclines next to seated younger man with dark hair
Mitch Albom ’79 (right) visited former Brandeis professor Morrie Schwartz every Tuesday during the months before Schwartz died of ALS in 1995.

Who’s Your Morrie? Share Your Story of Inspiration

“I majored in Morrie” is how author Mitch Albom ’79 described his relationship with sociology professor Morrie Schwartz when he spoke about his mentor to Brandeis Magazine in 2020.

As an undergrad, Albom took every class taught by Schwartz. Although the pair lost touch after Albom graduated, they reconnected when Albom saw a television interview with Schwartz, who talked about what it was like to be dying of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Albom began visiting his ailing friend weekly.

Their conversations, and the lessons Albom learned, became the basis for his bestselling memoir “Tuesdays With Morrie.” Since the book’s publication in 1997, Schwartz’s frank, soulful advice about love, living for the moment and letting go gracefully has resonated with more than 17 million readers around the world.

Now Albom and the Brandeis Alumni Association are inviting fellow alumni to share their own Brandeis mentor stories, through the new Who’s Your Morrie? campaign. The goal is to highlight the life-changing power of the connections Brandeis students build with professors, coaches, counselors, graduates and even their fellow students, and give alumni a chance to publicly thank their Brandeis mentors — past or present — for making an impact on their personal or professional lives.

Many mentors offer unexpected guidance. For instance, Elaine Yamaguchi ’71 likes to say chemistry professor Robert Stevenson knew she’d become an organic chemist before she did.

A Yale University PhD and former senior chemist at the Chevron Corp., where she worked for 34 years, Yamaguchi recalls the day near the end of her sophomore year at Brandeis when Stevenson invited her to help with his lab’s research. She worked alongside Stevenson until her graduation, and remained a friend until his death at age 91 in 2019.

Yamaguchi’s gratitude toward her mentor — who, she says, never told her what to do but “put me on a path so I could grow” — motivated her to pay it forward. For 40 years, she’s overseen an American Chemical Society/Chevron-sponsored program that offers summer laboratory jobs to high school students who love science as much as she does, helping them prepare for college. She also recently honored her late professor with a $100,000 gift that established a memorial fund at Brandeis in his name. She wants the fund to both support undergraduate research and help students with crucial career skills, such as interviewing and networking.

Who’s your Morrie? Visit to submit your story. We’ll share select stories online and on social media to inspire current students and alumni about the power of the Brandeis network.

— Susan Seligson

Head shot of a smiling man with white hair and beard
Lewis Brooks ’80, P’16

Mentorship’s Two-Way Street

At the convocation ceremony that kicked off the current academic year, I welcomed the Class of 2025 to Brandeis by reminding them that the Alumni Association is here for them from the moment they first arrive on campus.

I’ve learned that connecting with students is a two-way street: Whenever they seek guidance from me, I find I learn a lot from them, too. Today’s students are amazing: smart, personable and full of ideas — just as you’d expect Brandeisians to be.

Making connections is easier than ever for both students and alumni, thanks to two new programs. More than 1,200 alumni have signed on, through the B Connect online community, to join the Rise Together Mentor Network. During the first half of 2021, more than 700 mentor/mentee interactions took place with nearly 550 students.

Another mentorship program, Roses in Concrete, is building connections and community among the BIPOC community via a two-pronged approach. In the fall, Brandeis alumni and graduate students and Waltham community members were paired with Brandeis undergraduates who self-identify as Black, Indigenous or people of color. This spring, the undergraduate mentees are using their new leadership skills to mentor Waltham High School students. Like I said, mentorship really is a two-way street.

In a separate initiative, the university is launching the Who’s Your Morrie? campaign, collecting and sharing inspirational mentorship stories in an effort to “showcase the power and deeply collaborative nature of the Brandeis network.” The program takes its name from a celebrated Brandeis mentor/mentee relationship: the one between sociology professor Morrie Schwartz and Mitch Albom ’79, made famous by Albom’s book “Tuesdays With Morrie.”

Read more about the Who’s Your Morrie? campaign in the story above. And consider becoming a mentor yourself. It truly feels wonderful to support future alumni in their journey.

My best,

Lewis Brooks ’80, P’16
President, Brandeis Alumni Association

[Re]Commencement: 2022 Ceremony to Recognize ’20 and ’21 Grads

On Sunday, May 22, the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center will be abuzz with the excitement and anticipation of not one, not two, but three graduating classes.

Following the morning Commencement ceremony for the Class of 2022, Brandeis is welcoming back the Classes of 2020 and 2021 for a belated, combined in-person [Re]Commencement celebration. Each of these classes had to celebrate graduation virtually, due to pandemic restrictions.

“These two classes have demonstrated such resilience and flexibility,” says President Ron Liebowitz. “It’s only fitting that we celebrate this capstone to their Brandeis experience, their resolve in the face of uncertainty and their accomplishments since graduation at a proper in-person celebration back on campus.”

Young alumni have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to say goodbye to their student experience at Brandeis with all the usual pomp and circumstance.

“Participating in an in-person graduation ceremony is important,” says Rachel McAllister ’21. “It’s a celebration of the work and time I spent at Brandeis, and my family and friends who supported me through my undergrad years will be able to celebrate with me. It’s truly a full-circle moment.”

“After a stressful year, it’ll be nice to put a spotlight on the accomplishments of so many graduates,” adds Cyril Ojilere ’21. After the formal graduation ceremony, 2020 and 2021 grads will have the chance to participate in an after-party reminiscent of the Senior Week festivities they missed.

Those who can’t make the May 22 ceremony — along with all other alumni who want to celebrate their lasting connection to Brandeis — are invited to attend Alumni Weekend on campus just a few weeks later.

“As we look forward to seeing the Classes of ’20, ’21 and ’22 in Gosman at their Commencement, we want all our graduates to know that they are valued and welcome members of the Alumni Association,” says the group’s president, Lewis Brooks ’80, P’16.

Save the Date for a Much-Anticipated Return

The wait is finally over. After a two-year in-person hiatus, Alumni Weekend 2022 will be back on campus on June 10-12. Along with the long-delayed hugs, there will be milestone class reunions, favorite family-friendly events, the presentation of the 2022 Alumni Achievement Awards and much more. So rally the troops and mark your calendar, because this special weekend is long overdue.

Start planning your trip to Waltham now.

Alumni whose class year ends in a 2 or a 7: You are celebrating a milestone reunion! Keep an eye on your inbox for class-specific messaging from your reunion committee.

Black-and-white photo of a man on a motorcycle holding a dog

A popular feature of Alumni Weekend, the Ralph Norman Barbeque is named for the man who documented Brandeis’ growth for 33 years as its first university photographer, shown in this mid-1950s photo with his dog Cholmondeley, the inspiration for the name of the campus coffeehouse Chum’s. (Image courtesy Robert D. Farber University Archives and Special Collections Department, Brandeis)


A bride and groom smile for the camera surrounded by a small group of people

Brian Botnick ’09 married Alex Forke in Denver on Aug. 28 with many Brandeis friends in attendance.

A bride and groom hold a blue Brandeis pennant surrounded by two women and three men

Harrison Bannett ’11 and Rachel Benjamin ’14 were married on May 2. Pictured, from left: Rabbi Bryan Wexler ’09; Shoshana and Jeremy Bannett, both ’09, Harrison’s sister-in-law and brother; Harrison; Rachel; and Gregg and Julie Bannett, both ’81, P’09, P’11, Harrison’s father and mother.

Bride and groom holding a large Brandeis banner with six people in formal dress

Megan Kessler ’14 and Michael Margolis ’12 exchanged vows in Chicago on May 30.

Bride and groom wearing traditional African prints surrounded by friends and family dressed in white clothes

Illon and Rachael (Koehler) Osei, both ’13, celebrated a traditional Ghanaian wedding on Aug. 13 (pictured here), followed by a traditional American wedding the next day.

Two men smile for the camera

Jordan Barkin ’03 (left) married Spencer Black Barkin in Rock Hill, South Carolina, on March 21, 2020.

A bride and groom are seated outside side-by-side; the woman is tossing a white basketball in the air

Two former Judges basketball players, Terrell Hollins ’10 and Shannon Hassan-Hollins ’12, tied the knot in Middleton, New Hampshire, on July 31.

A bride and groom, smiling broadly at each other, walk while holding hands

Kayla Dinces and Rajesh Kulenthirarajan, both ’12, celebrated their pandemic-delayed nuptials in September with 17 of their closest Brandeis friends.