Brandeis Magazine

Winter 2023/2024

A Show of Gratitude for Educators Who Inspire

Illustration of various people, a globe and books

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Professors who actively engage and inspire students, whether in the classroom or through personalized guidance, can have a lifelong impact.

University trustee Ron Ratner ’69 and wife Deborah Ratner have established a new endowment to recognize Brandeis educators who do just that.

Named for Ron’s brother, the Professor Mark A. Ratner Distinguished Teaching Award will be given annually to two tenured faculty in the Humanities and Creative Arts divisions. Mark Ratner, P’94, is an acclaimed and dedicated educator — a materials chemist, professor emeritus at Northwestern University, and a pioneer in the field of molecular electronics. His career has been animated by numerous prizes, accolades, and honorary degrees, as well as by his leadership on a number of scientific, academic, and policy boards and foundations. His daughter, Stacy Ratner ’94, is a Brandeis graduate.

“Through his work, my brother has expanded the boundaries of scientific knowledge and has mentored countless students who have already left and will continue to leave their own legacy in the field of chemistry,” says Ron Ratner. “In addition to his groundbreaking work as a chemist, Mark frequently taught a first-year seminar on the literature of chemistry, reflecting his deep belief in the importance of a strong liberal arts education. He has said that Brandeis is the only university that could have rivaled Northwestern in his academic life.”

In addition to receiving recognition, recipients of the Professor Mark A. Ratner Distinguished Teaching Award will be given support that helps them foster innovative teaching methods, collaborate more closely with students, and enhance their research or creative activity.

Professors ChaeRan Freeze and Adrianne Krstansky have been named the inaugural recipients. Freeze is the Frances and Max Elkon Chair in Modern Jewish History. Krstansky is the Louis, Frances, and Jeffrey Sachar Chair in Creative Arts. “This award is extremely meaningful, as it will empower me to inspire and support my students in a manner that truly addresses their educational needs,” says Krstansky. “I am deeply grateful to Brandeis for my life as an educator and artist, and share that gratitude with the Ratner family for their support.”

The Ratner family has long supported Brandeis. Before establishing this latest award — in gratitude for Ron’s educational experiences, and to honor Mark’s work and legacy — the extended family has provided support for residence hall construction projects, scholarships, and other efforts.