Welcome Back to Campus

August 25, 2016

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
During my first two months as Brandeis University’s president, everyone I’ve met has greeted me with much-appreciated warmth. Now, as a new academic year begins, I’m pleased to have the chance to turn the tables and extend my own warm welcome to you.
In my short time here, I’ve experienced firsthand the qualities that set Brandeis apart: the passion and loyalty this institution inspires in its students, faculty, and staff; the transformative research it conducts and shares with the wider world; its dedication to undergraduate education across the curriculum while providing consequential research opportunities to both graduate and undergraduate students; the willingness of its students, faculty, and staff to engage one another, even on difficult topics; and its deep commitment to tikkun olam (healing the world), which is such an important part of the University’s founding spirit.
I look forward to diving into the current of the new academic year, which will bring a number of special events and milestones. Among them, the Waltham Group will mark 50 years of outreach and outstanding service to our Waltham neighbors; a symposium on Lenny Bruce will spotlight the University’s acquisition of the comedian’s personal papers; Deborah Lipstadt, MA’72, PhD’76, a distinguished history scholar at Emory University, will receive an Alumni Achievement Award and present a campus screening of the new feature film “Denial,” based on her account of being sued for libel by a Holocaust denier; and the Intercultural Center, which fosters respect for and knowledge of the many cultures that make up Brandeis, will commemorate its 25th anniversary.
Many colleagues on campus will be hard at work preparing for the University’s decennial reaccreditation review, which will take place during the 2017-18 academic year. This major review requires the writing of a 100-page self-study this year and hosting a visiting team of colleagues from peer institutions next fall to help us assess the effectiveness of our academic programs and campus operations. Since our last reaccreditation visit in 2006, the world has changed dramatically, and many of the changes have had a major impact on Brandeis and all of higher education. Consequently, we have a lot of work ahead preparing our self-study, as we reimagine how to advance teaching, learning, and research across our programs, and find ways to deepen our engagement with society at large.
I very much look forward to getting to know more of you over the coming months. When you see me around campus, please come over and introduce yourself. Maintaining open lines of communication is extremely important to me — I want and need the benefit of your ideas and expertise. I will continue to keep regularly scheduled open-office hours and, with my wife Jessica, host lunches with small groups of students, faculty, and staff, to hear what’s uppermost on your mind.
There’s another characteristic I’ve noticed that sets Brandeis apart: the number of alumni who come back and work on campus. This says something about the love Brandeisians develop for their alma mater. We are fortunate to study, teach, research, and serve at Brandeis, where the bonds we develop sustain us over the course of our lives and, I have discovered, begin to grow soon after one arrives.

I wish you all a wonderful year.