Update on the Framework Process

March 6, 2019

Dear Brandeisians,

I am pleased to share the second of my regular updates on the task forces and working groups charged with advancing “A Framework for Our Future.”

In late January, members of the task forces and working groups engaged in three hourlong workshops with the Board of Trustees. These discussions were led by the co-chairs of each task force — Kim Godsoe and Sara Shostak, from the Task Force on the Student Learning/Living Experience; Constance Horgan and Sacha Nelson, from the Task Force on Supporting Research, Creativity, and Collaborative Innovation; and myself, along with Jon Levisohn and Chad Williams, from the Task Force on Honoring Our Founding Values.   

Throughout that productive and informative morning, the trustees provided constructive ideas on how best to enhance the student experience; broaden our research and scholarly capacity; and articulate more effectively our Jewish roots, and their relevance to Brandeis today and tomorrow.  

The task forces and working groups have been influenced in significant ways by these conversations with the trustees. They have also engaged energetically with various groups across the campus and beyond.  

The Student Learning/Living Experience task force is in the midst of an intensive listening tour, which includes approximately 60 meetings with various groups of students, faculty, staff, and alumni. The task force, which is also planning to meet soon with Alumni Association board members, worked with the Office of Alumni Relations and the Alumni Association board on a survey that was distributed to alumni earlier this month. On February 25, with the support of the Department of Community Service, the group hosted a meeting of 15 community partners from Waltham to talk about engagement. It also identified best practices at other highly selective universities and has conducted a series of interviews to better understand how these models may apply to Brandeis.   

Similarly, the Supporting Research, Creativity, and Collaborative Innovation task force has completed a series of listening sessions with faculty and researchers in the School of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Brandeis International Business School, the Heller School, and various research centers and institutes. The task force’s Working Group on Undergraduate Research has surveyed departments and programs across the university, and will meet with student representatives on March 7.

Finally, the Honoring Our Founding Values task force has made significant progress in mapping out the future of Brandeis’ commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and racial justice, and its equally strong commitment to understanding and articulating its history and roots in the Jewish community. The Working Group on Equal Opportunity, Social Impact, and Community Engagement is discussing the programs and initiatives Brandeis must undertake to uphold its historical identity, values, and commitments while reimagining these ideas for the coming decades. The Working Group on Jewish Scholarship, Leadership, and Service is exploring a set of models for improving coordination and collaboration among the scholars on campus who study and teach about various aspects of contemporary Jewish life. Through greater collaboration, our scholars and students will gain a richer understanding of the complexities and dynamism of Jewish culture, including the values upon which our institution was founded.  

As a reminder, the Framework website includes several areas that invite you to submit your questions and ideas to the task forces, as well as to the steering committee of the whole Framework process. I again encourage you to engage with all of us through these online forms. Your participation is crucial during such a pivotal moment in Brandeis’ history.