Founding class returns for Brandeis' first 60th reunion

They set up the student union, argued about 'boy-girl relations after hours'

Almost 60 years to the day after becoming Brandeis’ initial graduates, the so-called “pioneers” are returning to campus this weekend to celebrate the University’s first 60th Reunion.

A total of 25 of the 101 members of the Class of 1952, who graduated on June 16, 1952, will be back June 8-10 to renew acquaintances with classmates, reminisce about their days as students and reflect on the central role they played in bringing Brandeis to life in 1948.

“When we started, most schools had ivy on the walls and traditions that were hundreds of years old,” observed Max Perlitsh, co-chair of the 60th Reunion with Gus Ranis and Ed Stavis, all Class of ‘52. “I don’t think as 16- and 17-year-olds we had a sense of the enormous responsibility we had. We had to set up a Student Union, governance, organizations and a student newspaper. All of it was in our hands.”

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Alumni College 2012

Alumni College, a day-long academic program for the alumni community, will be held June 9. Check the schedule for more information.

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The Class of ’52 will be joined by 11 other classes celebrating five-year reunions – ’57, ’62, ’67, ’72, ’77, ’82, ’87, ’92, ’97, ’02 and ’07 – at Reunion 2012

Weekend highlights include the Fire & ’Deis welcome back party; a conversation with President Fred Lawrence; a discussion of global economic conditions with International Business School Dean Bruce Magid and Hersh Cohen '62, chief investment officer at ClearBridge Advisors; a barbeque honoring the memory of popular university photographer Ralph Norman, and class dinners. More than 1,000 alumni and their families are scheduled to attend.

As a member of Brandeis’ first class, Perlitsh remembers the feeling of being part of an exhilarating experiment in higher education. The students were fully engaged and quickly built strong connections with a world-class faculty.

Perlitsh developed a particularly close relationship with biology professor Albert Kelner, who instilled in him the scientific know-how that became the backbone of Perlitsh’s research into gum disease. The Tufts University School of Dental Medicine alumnus has had a thriving dental-periodontal practice in the Boston area for many years.

In a sign of things to come, Perlitsh remembers joining his classmates in occasional clashes with the Brandeis administration. The primary points of contention were the size of the student body and the visiting hours in the residence halls.

“We were concerned that Brandeis not become too big; we never imagined that it would be the size it is now,” recalled Perlitsh, who served as class president as a junior. “The other big argument was how to govern boy-girl relations after hours. We came up with the ‘open-door policy’ – if a guy was in a girls’ room or a girl was in a guys’ room, the door was to remain open at all times.”

For helping open Brandeis’ doors in 1948, the Class of ’52 will receive the Alumni Achievement Award from President Lawrence during a ceremony in Sherman Function Hall, Hassenfeld Conference Center, on Saturday. It is the first time an entire class has received the honor.

According to Perlitsh, 55 members of the class went on to advanced degrees after graduation. Five each went to medical school, dental school and business school, three attended law school, 12 earned doctorates and 25 obtained master’s degrees.

Class members enjoyed successful careers in the arts, business, education, law, medicine, science and many other fields. Class of ’52 alumni also served on the Brandeis Board of Trustees and Board of Fellows, took an active role in the Alumni Association and generously supported scholarships, fellowships, capital projects and the Alumni Annual Fund.

Categories: Alumni

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