President Lawrence addresses the state of the university at staff town hall

President Lawrence comments on the status of Brandeis University

Photo/Mike Lovett

Continuing with an annual tradition he started four years ago, President Frederick M. Lawrence hosted a staff town hall meeting to mark the start of the academic year.

Lawrence told the capacity audience in Levin Ballroom that the university is moving closer to its goals for financial stability and sustainability. He acknowledged that, like other higher education institutions, Brandeis faces a number of financial challenges, but he said the university is very close to eliminating the budget deficits that have persisted for many years. 

“Deficit is the language of reaction, ‘how can we save a little here, save a little there?’ Surplus is the discussion of choices, ‘where do we want to invest, where can we grow?’ said Lawrence.

In spite of budgetary constraints, Lawrence said the university has made some major investments in its physical campus. He called the recent renovations to the Foster Mods and Ziv Residence Halls, as well as the relocation of the Lemberg Children’s Center into a new building on the opposite side of South Street, welcome changes to the campus. Renovations to Schwartz Hall will also be completed soon and the Crown Center for Middle Eastern Studies will relocate to the renovated space previously used by the Children’s Center.

Not all of the changes have gone as smoothly, Lawrence acknowledged. He said the difficulties many students have faced with the mailroom and dining services are unacceptable. Although the situation is improving, Lawrence said university administrators are reviewing the issues to better understand them, to correct them and to ensure they do not happen again.

Lawrence also spoke about the university’s commitment to preventing and responding to sexual misconduct and violence on campus. He said while it is an issue affecting universities across the country, Brandeis has its own challenges and needs to do a better job confronting them. To that end, he said Brandeis has implemented a number of steps to provide students with additional resources and services, and he thanked the students for helping the university to enhance its programs and policies regarding sexual assault.

Lawrence said as he looks at Brandeis’ impact on prospective students, the community and alumni, a number of statistics stood out: 

  • The first-year Class of 2018 came from the largest number of students in school history, passing the 10,000-application mark for the first time—and this follows last year’s record-setting number of applications. 
  • Brandeis students contributed 60,000 hours of community service to the city of Waltham. 
  • Brandeis currently ranks 19th in the country for percentage of alumni that give to their school. 

He also spoke about the impact staff have on the students. “Each of us is a gatekeeper to someone’s Brandeis moment. We are that face, that smile, that word that can make a difference in a student’s life. Thank you for making that extra effort—your small gesture can have a lifelong impact.”

 In addition to providing his assessment on the state of the university, Lawrence also announced that he has approved a total of six-and-a-half days of discretionary time for staff during the Thanksgiving and Winter breaks.

Categories: Alumni, Business, General, Student Life

Return to the BrandeisNOW homepage