Of Note

Chaplaincy Innovation Lab at Brandeis University receives $750,000 from Henry Luce FoundationPosted: Jan. 22, 2021

The Chaplaincy Innovation Lab received two grants totaling $750,000 from the Henry Luce Foundation in the second half of 2020 to continue building and supporting resilience in chaplains and other spiritual care providers across the country.

As they respond to the double pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism, chaplains are called on now more than ever to address some of the most pressing and deeply felt needs of communities. Growing coverage of chaplains in the media has brought this crucial profession into the national conversation at a time spiritual care is most needed.

“We’ve seen chaplains accompany COVID patients in their last moments when loved ones could not be present. The year 2020 inflicted deep wounds on many in our communities and chaplains were there offering support,” said Wendy Cadge, the project’s principal investigator and Senior Associate Dean of Strategic Initiatives at Brandeis University. “We’ve also seen chaplains working ‘both sides of the line,’ with protestors and with law enforcement, during the movement to secure racial equity in the United States.” This project will further chaplains’ growing work and visibility during these times.

With the support of the Henry Luce Foundation, the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab awarded16 micro-grants totaling over $440,000 to institutions across the country to extend the work of chaplains at this important time. The grants have assisted chaplains on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic at facilities like the Hampton VA Medical Center, San Francisco General Hospital, ProMedica Health System, Pine Rest Mental Health Services, Keene State College, and New York Presbyterian Medical Center.

Projects financed by these grants include focusing on the challenges facing healthcare environmental service staff; leadership in healthcare systems; the need for restorative practices for faculty and staff in higher education; support for medical language interpreters as they work with patients, families, and healthcare teams; and more.

Funds from the Henry Luce Foundation are also providing free virtual support groups for chaplains that the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab offers in partnership with the Albert and Jesse Danielsen Institute at Boston University. The support groups have served 100 chaplains to-date and will continue through December 2021. “We’re excited to partner with the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab and we’re humbled by what we’re learning in these groups. Chaplains are supporting so many people in so many situations, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to support those chaplains in turn,” said George Stavros, Executive Director of the Danielsen Institute.

The Lab continues to offer free webinars on a range of topics with additional funding expanding the range to include restorative sessions titled Music for the Soul.


Brandeis University Press to exclusively manage the University Press of New EnglandPosted: Jan. 6, 2021
Brandeis University has acquired and is now the sole owner of all titles and copyrights of the University Press of New England, under a deal finalized on Jan. 1 with Dartmouth College. Going forward, Brandeis University Press will oversee the UPNE list, excluding Dartmouth College Press titles.

Brandeis University Press was an early member of the UPNE consortium, and in 2018 when UPNE was dissolved, it split ownership of UPNE with Dartmouth College; since then, the two institutions have co-managed the list. Brandeis University Press will now manage the entire list, reprint books, actively promote titles, and sell rights. Dartmouth will continue to steward and manage titles previously published under the Dartmouth College Press imprint.

Georgia O’Keeffe, A Life by Roxana Robinson, Bark, A Field Guide to Trees of the Northeast by Michael Wojtech, and Vulture, The Private Life of an Unloved Bird by Katie Fallon are titles previously published by UPNE which have been reissued by BUP.

The University of Chicago Press’s Chicago Distribution Center will continue to handle marketing, sales and distribution for both Brandeis University Press and the UPNE catalog.

“Brandeis University Press is pleased to begin representing these titles and working with their authors going forward. The titles we acquired will dovetail well with BUP’s current titles and our expertise,” said Sue Ramin, Director of BUP. “I am grateful to Dartmouth College for their excellent past stewardship and for working so cooperatively with us as we worked on this acquisition.”

“UPNE has a wonderful deep backlist and we are thankful to the UPNE leadership, editors, and staff who created this excellent list of books. We hope to keep many of these titles in print and look forward to promoting and reissuing them,” Ramin added.

BUP has produced critically acclaimed and award-winning books in the humanities and social sciences, as well as general interest titles, with a particular commitment to publishing compelling and innovative approaches to the study of the Jewish experience worldwide.
Staff recognized with Ennis and Zirkel Awards Posted: Dec. 21, 2020
Ennis and Zirkel Award winnersPhotos/Mike Lovett

Adrian Valladares and Phil Gnatowski

Two Brandeis staff members were celebrated for their commitment to the university with staff recognition awards in a virtual event Dec. 15.

The Louis and Helen Zirkel Staff Award is given to a member of the support staff who has demonstrated consistent effort to improve the service and the operation of their department and of the university. It was presented to facilities services custodian Adrian Valladares.

"Adrian has been a long-time custodian, colleague, and friend to the faculty and staff in Shiffman. His hard work is vital to the day-to-day operations of the building and surrounding areas," read one of the nomination submissions for Valladares. "Not only is he quick to respond and attend to any facilities-related needs, he is also always willing to help in any way he can ...he is dependable, proactive, conscientious, and willing to go the extra mile! Last but not least, we are happy to have him as a smiling familiar face in the halls of Shiffman and is a welcoming, kind, friendly character no matter what!"

The Lou Ennis Staff Award, which recognizes an individual who demonstrates loyalty and dedication to the university and its mission by surpassing the requirements of the job, was presented to Phil Gnatowski, administrator for the psychology department.

"Phil does an amazing job of making everything in the department work. He anticipates looming deadlines, provides helpful suggestions for accomplishing goals, and does whatever it takes to solve unanticipated problems as they arise," read one of the nomination submissions for Gnatowski. "This has often meant that he comes in early and/or stays late to ensure that every concern is attended to, and every goal accomplished. In the process, he is unflaggingly pleasant and upbeat, despite having to navigate many frustrations and conflicting needs."

"The Psychology department and the university are fortunate to have Phil on our staff," read another nomination submission. "Time and again he delivers in high pressure situations, coolly solving one problem after another in the clutch. And in so doing, he always responds to questions or requests with grace and good humor. We are lucky to have him managing our team!"

Along with the annual awards, staff with 10, 15, 25, 30, 35 years of service at the university were also honored during the virtual ceremony.

Cara Streit named director of student accessibility supportPosted: Nov. 30, 2020

Brandeis University has named Dr. Cara Streit as its new director of student accessibility support. Streit will start at Brandeis on Monday, Nov. 30 and report to Erika Smith, Dean of Academic Services.

Cara’s career in higher education, disability justice and opportunity equity spans more than a decade. She most recently served as the inaugural Associate Director and Director of Academics, Innovation and Inclusion of the Threshold Program at Lesley University. 

During her 13-year tenure at Lesley, Cara oversaw inclusive education programming and curriculum building for students with intellectual, developmental, learning and physical disabilities. She also evaluated the physical accessibility of residence halls, offices, and classrooms as well as virtual spaces, and worked directly with students and their families to assess disability accommodations needs.

While at Lesley, Cara developed and taught universally designed social science courses, oversaw faculty development initiatives, supervised clinical social work interns providing therapeutic counseling to students, and served on the university’s Diversity Council, the President’s Council on Inclusive Excellence, and the COVID-19 Virtual Academic Taskforce designing faculty training opportunities and advancing inclusivity and accessibility priorities.

Cara is a licensed social worker in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and holds a Bachelor of Science from Boston College, a Master of Social Work from Simmons University, and a Doctorate of Education in Special Education from Boston University.

Prior to her work at Lesley, Cara worked with several organizations advancing causes related to equity and accessibility. She was an employment consultant for Best Buddies Massachusetts and  a social work intern at the North Shore Rape Crisis Center. She also held fellowships at Children’s Hospital Boston’s Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities (LEND) Program and at the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship Program, where she co-created a mentoring program for children and young adults with learning and developmental disabilities.

Sodexo contract to continue due to pandemicPosted: Aug. 6, 2020
Due to the pandemic, the process for selecting a food service vendor was suspended.  Sodexo will continue to operate as Brandeis' food service vendor under a two-year contract that includes several improvements to the dining experience for the upcoming academic year, including, a full-time nutritionist, revised meal plan choices, third-party oversight of allergen safety, and more diversity in food selection.
Herbert PhD'26, Khilji '20 named Fulbright ScholarsPosted: July 17, 2020

Two Brandeis alumni that were named alternates for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program have been promoted to principal status.

Alexander Herbert PhD '26 has been awarded a research grant to Russia where he will examine environmental politics in the Soviet Union in the decade before collapse using the Leningrad "dam" as a case study to evaluate the growing importance of environmental politics, and how it became a lens through which journalists, activists, and artists began to challenge the Communist Party on a local and national level.

Herbert will work with a number of Russian environmental organizations and NGOs like Greenpeace and Ecodefense. He has also been invited to give guest lectures at the Higher School of Economics in St. Petersburg. After completion of his Fulbright grant, Herbert plans to return to the U.S. to complete his PhD in History and conduct research that strengthens connections between environmental historians of the late 20th century on both sides of the former Iron Curtain. Herbert authored the book “What About Tomorrow?: An Oral History of Russian Punk from the Soviet Era to Pussy Riot,” He won the 2020 Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award at Brandeis.

Sohaima Khilji BA '20 has been named a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Taiwan. An International and Global Studies major and recipient of a Humanities Fellowship and Segal Fellowship, Khilji also studied abroad with SIT Rabat in Morocco during her junior year.

She served as president of the Brandeis Muslim Student Association, and was an Orientation Leader and part of the Orientation Core Committee. She has also served as an English as a Second Language Teacher for refugees, and has worked with low-income Muslim youth.

While in Taiwan, Khilji is eager to promote dialogue about the broad range of American identities, actively engaging with the local Muslim community and mosque to develop spaces for this dialogue and to share her experience as a Pakistani Muslim-American. She also hopes to engage with the local Muslim community by developing interfaith activities and events where Taiwanese Muslims can discuss what life is like as a Muslim in Taiwan. After completing her Fulbright grant she plans to pursue a career as an immigration attorney.