The top 10 BrandeisNow stories of 2022

Collage of the photos: building rendering; deval patrick; students at move-in; joey kornman; house of dragons, Lee Bitsoi; students at memorial

From the arrival of the Class of 2026 to the announcement of a new science center, these are the top 10 BrandeisNOW stories from 2022:

10. Brandeis welcomes new faculty

New faculty

Along with scores of new students, Brandeis welcomed 40 new full-time and visiting faculty members and postdoctoral faculty fellows to campus in the fall.

The group spanned 21 areas of study and included appointments in the School of Arts and Sciences, the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, and Brandeis International Business School. New full-time and part-time faculty were welcomed to campus at faculty orientation in August. Read the story.

9. Deval Patrick H'17 and Marta Kauffman '78, H'20 named speakers for a special Commencement day

Deval Patrick speaks to the audience at commencement 2022.

For the first time since 2019, a Brandeis University graduating class gathered together on campus, in person, to celebrate Commencement. It was a celebration doubleheader. The 71st Commencement Exercises were held in the morning, while the Classes of 2020 and 2021 were welcomed back to campus for [Re]Commencement, a special in-person ceremony since their original graduation exercises were held remotely due to the pandemic. Patrick and Kauffman were announced as the speakers in April. Read the story.

8. The Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers and jihadist extremists: What they have in common and what they don’t

A military vest with Proud Boys insignia

Since 2006, professor Jytte Klausen has led the Western Jihadism Project, which studies and closely tracks the movements and behavior of individuals associated with terrorist groups. In the aftermath of the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the Capitol building, Klausen broadened her scope beyond legally-defined terror groups to include domestic extremist organizations that were connected to the events of that day, such as the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. In this interview, she explains the similarities and differences between these groups and jihadist extremists. Read the story.

7. How 'House of the Dragon' compares to the medieval era it is inspired by

House of the Dragon's lead character in front of her dragon

The "Game of Thrones" spinoff from HBO depicts a world spun of fantasy, but the noble Targaryan family depicted in the series, who struggle to maintain familial power while tensions rise to a civil war, face challenges similar to those of the medieval royalty who inspired their personas, according to Dorothy Kim, an assistant professor in the English and women’s, gender and sexuality studies. In this Q-and-A, Kim explains how the new show weaves in symbolism and themes inspired by medieval Europe. Read the story.

6. 'Endless, boundless, gentle kindness': Brandeis remembers Vanessa Mark

Two students embrace during Vanessa Mark memorial

Vanessa Mark's sense of humor and creativity was outshone only by her commitment to helping others, friends recalled in a December memorial service.

"She was, without doubt, the funniest, wittiest, most clever person I ever had the pleasure of meeting," said Paul Weir '25, who performed in the improv group, False Advertising, with Mark. "Yet at the same time … one could never feel as loved as they felt when sharing the stage with her. Despite her talent, she cared most about making her scene partners and friends feel good."

Mark, 25, died Nov. 19 in a shuttle bus accident on South Street that left nearly 30 others injured. She was an undergraduate on leave from Brandeis at the time. Read the story.

5. LeManuel Lee Bitsóí named vice president for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

LeManuel Lee Bitsóí

Brandeis selected Bitsóí, who has more than 20 years of experience in higher education, to lead the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in January.

“Brandeis’ history as a university that was founded at a time when Jewish students and faculty faced limiting quotas in higher education informs our work today, pushing us to include all those who may have faced barriers to participation because of their ethnicity, religion, race or gender.” Bitsóí said at the time. “I look forward to working together with all members of the university to hold ourselves accountable to our founding values that resonate with me as an Indigenous person.”

Bitsóí came to Brandeis from Fort Lewis College, where he served as associate vice president for diversity affairs and special advisor to the president for indigenous affairs. Read the story.

4. What’s next for Donald Trump and the GOP?

Donald Trump exits a tunnel with an American flag behind him.

On November 15, 2022, former president Donald Trump announced his campaign to seek a return to the White House. The declaration came one week after a midterm election with underwhelming results for Republicans, particularly candidates with endorsements from Trump and close ties to the former president.

What do the results say about Trump's appeal to voters and his relationship with the Republican Party? And what could they mean for 2024? Assistant professor of politics Zachary Albert, an expert on political campaigns, partisan polarization, and public policy-making, offers his analysis. Read the story.

3. Transformative science expansion on the horizon

Exterior rendering of new science complex and outdoor space

Planning is underway for a new science facility that will add approximately 100,000 square feet of mostly new and some renovated space for wet labs, core facilities, state-of-the-art classrooms, and maker space to the Brandeis campus. When completed, the project will bolster the recruitment and retention of top faculty and students, strengthen Brandeis' position as a leader in scientific advances, and enhance interdisciplinary connections across campus. Construction is expected to begin late next year.

"Brandeis' science enterprise is a vibrant, thriving part of the university with growing student demand," said Brandeis President Ron Liebowitz. "This sweeping new construction project will create a welcoming environment that will meet that demand. One can’t help but be excited after reviewing the plans for this project. I am confident we will see life-changing discoveries—and world-changing scientists—emerge from our revitalized Science Complex." Read the story.

2. Brandeis student heads to Jeopardy! semifinals

joey kornman poses in front of the jeapordy sign with host

Joey Kornman ’23, a double major in classical studies and economics, grew up playing knowledge-based games with his family. Game nights weren’t complete without a competitive round of trivia with his parents and siblings. Out of more than 26,000 applicants, he was among the lucky few selected to compete in this year’s Jeopardy! National College Championship in February.

“As I flew to California for the first time in my life I couldn’t believe it was happening,” Kornman said. “Even as I sat in my makeup chair backstage before the show I was in disbelief.” Read the story. Read the story.

1. Brandeis welcomes the Class of 2026

5 students pose for the camera in front of a lit up Light of Reason art installation

The positive energy was palpable as the Class of 2026 filled their residence halls, said goodbye to their parents, and began the next chapter of their lives at Brandeis’ 2022 Move-In Day on Aug. 21. Temperatures climbed toward 90 degrees, but spirits stayed high. With an enrollment of 996, it was the largest entering class in university history. Read the story.

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