Trustee Meyer Koplow ’72 to address special Faculty Meeting

He says university must rebalance commitments with financial resources

Trustee Meyer Koplow ’72

The trustee who leads the board’s budget and finance committee and the search for a new president will address faculty next week to outline the critical need to align the university’s financial commitments with its resources.

Trustee Meyer Koplow ’72 will speak Jan. 20 at a special faculty meeting called by Provost Marty Krauss.

The presentation follows a faculty workshop in December and a special faculty retreat this week at which Koplow and President Reinharz detailed the pressing need for comprehensive planning to address Brandeis’s historic shortage of financial resources.

“The goal here is to make this a more secure and comfortable community where people can concentrate on the excellence of the education and the research and not spend any more time — certainly not academy time — focusing on financial issues and worrying on an annual basis about the next budget cycle,” Koplow told retreat participants.

“To achieve that, we must rebalance our activities and commitments to be consistent with our resources,” he said, adding that only the faculty “has the expertise, scholarship and ability to be able to take a serious look at things in the academy.”

He asked the faculty to prepare a plan for presentation at the March 23 meeting of the Board of Trustees to reduce academic commitments within the School of Arts and Sciences.

Sabine von Mering, chair of the Faculty Senate and a member of the Curriculum and Academic Restructuring Steering (CARS) committee, said, “Even though the faculty underwent a very strenuous process with CARS a year ago, it’s to Meyer’s credit, earned through his hard work on the search committee and his dedication to listening carefully, that the faculty accepts this new charge and is willing to engage in this exercise.

“He was very open and honest with us at the retreat about the challenges we face. He presented a clear picture and he said there would be a multi-pronged solution, with many parts. He is asking the faculty to do its share,” she added.

Koplow said the university is undertaking a comprehensive examination of all options, including nonacademic functions, revenue-generating ideas and new fundraising initiatives. The university, he added, must stop relying on one-time solutions like suspending retirement contributions and across-the-board layoffs to address its financial needs, and instead focus on permanent solutions.

Faculty attending the retreat included the members of the CARS committee, the Faculty Senate the University Advisory Council, the chairs of the school councils, the faculty representatives to the Board of Trustees, the faculty members of the Presidential Search Committee and the chair of the Faculty Budget Committee. The retreat was facilitated by Mary M. Childers, former associate dean of arts and sciences. Malcolm Sherman, chairman of the Board of Trustees, also attended the opening and closing segments with Koplow; Reinharz, who has announced his intention to step down by June 2011; and senior administrators.

Following the opening presentations, the faculty engaged in a daylong discussion on how the restructuring process can be conducted to benefit Brandeis in the long term. At the conclusion of the retreat, the faculty recommended that an expanded CARS committee (including members of the Dean's Curriculum Committee, the chair of the Faculty Budget Committee and the faculty representatives to the Board of Trustees) be appointed by the provost to meet the specific academic challenges to the School of Arts and Sciences presented by Koplow. More information on the formation of an expanded CARS committee, its charge and its timelines for decision-making will be presented at next Wednesday’s faculty meeting.

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