Brandeis Magazine

Winter 2023/2024

75 Looks Good on Brandeis

Group of alumni walk through campus on a fall day
Back on campus for a rousing anniversary

Photography by Dan Holmes

On a crisp autumn weekend, the university marked its 75th anniversary with a celebratory spirit equal to the momentous occasion.

Thousands of alumni, students, and families returned to campus Oct. 13-15 to cheer the successes of the past 75 years and the promise of the future. The three days also included all the usual Homecoming and Family Weekend events.

Every corner of the campus was alive. A Diamond Celebration, featuring dining and dancing, was held Saturday night under a huge tent on the Great Lawn. Spirited panel discussions and Reunion gatherings were scheduled throughout the weekend, along with a tailgate lunch, soccer games, a student talent showcase, a craft fair, and a pumpkin-carving event.

President Ron Liebowitz opened the gala with a moment of silence, to reflect on the unfolding war in Israel. He noted the university briefly considered canceling the weekend celebration but decided against it.

“We didn’t want terror to dictate how we commemorate the university’s great accomplishments or prevent us all from being together,” he said. “Our history and the history of Israel are similar in some ways, and they are intrinsically linked.”

The year’s Alumni Achievement Award winners — Cheryl Pegus ’84, Curtis Tearte ’73, Frederick Alt ’71, and Chuck Israels ’59 — were feted at the gala.

The Abram L. Sachar Award was presented to veteran broadcast journalist Judy Woodruff. Woodruff has covered politics for five decades, most notably at PBS, where she is a senior correspondent, and was previously anchor and managing editor of “PBS NewsHour.” She is a founding co-chair of the International Women’s Media Foundation, which supports women and nonbinary journalists by connecting them with reporting opportunities, fellowships, and grants.

Judy Woodruff speaking at a podium
Abram L. Sachar Award winner Judy Woodruff

In her acceptance speech, Woodruff said the Brandeis motto, “Truth, even unto its innermost parts,” befits “a great university” and also illustrates “what journalism means for our country and our democracy.”

Many prominent alumni and faculty led or participated in discussions about all things Brandeis, including the future of American Jewry, the Black experience at Brandeis, the legacy of Justice Louis Brandeis, and the power of Brandeis science.

National Book Award winner Ha Jin, GSAS MA’89, PhD’93, H’05, was featured in an author’s panel. Leading political philosopher Michael Sandel ’75 and Stephen Whitfield, GSAS PhD’72, the Max Richter Professor of American Civilization, Emeritus, discussed democracy.

University Professor Anita Hill and Joyce Antler ’63, the Samuel J. Lane Professor Emerita of American Jewish History and Culture, and professor emerita of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, talked about Brandeis women who have changed the world. Guy Raz ’96, host of National Public Radio’s “How I Built This,” moderated two panel discussions, talking with distinguished alumni about their lives and work.

Attendees soaked it all up. At the welcome reception Friday evening, Mark Beatty ’90 caught up with longtime friends and classmates. The former psychology and history major reflected on the value of friendship and the unique way Brandeis shaped his future.

“Brandeis has provided me with lifelong friends, a fantastic education, and the ability to think differently,” Beatty said. “I draw on my liberal arts education all the time, even though I do technical work.”

Rabbi Herbert Tobin ’75, senior consultant to Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, looked back fondly on his time on campus, particularly his coursework in Near Eastern and Judaic studies.

“I had four of the most wonderful years I could have,” said Tobin. “What a feast. It was a smorgasbord of Jewish life. The NEJS department was everything it was cracked up to be. It was the mother ship of Jewish departments across the country.”

At the Homecoming tailgate outside the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center on Saturday, Evan Reif and Marco Ratermann, both ’27, played cornhole, taking turns tossing beanbags at a plywood target.

“It’s been really nice to meet alumni and see the school come together,” Ratermann said. “There’s a lot of school spirit this weekend.”