Report on May Trustees Meeting
May 23, 2019
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
I am writing to report on actions taken by the Board of Trustees during its telephone meeting on May 17. The trustees schedule a meeting at this time every spring to approve the awarding of degrees at Commencement. At this year’s meeting, they took several additional noteworthy actions I am pleased to share with you.
The board promoted four of our colleagues to the rank of associate professor, with tenure effective July 1, 2019:
- Carl Sharif El-Tobgui (Near Eastern and Judaic studies)
- Anita Hannig (anthropology)
- Laura Jockusch (Near Eastern and Judaic studies)
- Omer Offen (mathematics)
Please join me in congratulating them on their recognition by the Board of Trustees, and thanking them for their dedication to our university’s academic strength and vitality.
The trustees also elected new board members:
- Sylvia Neil was elected chair of the Board of Fellows. By virtue of this office, she will serve as a trustee for a three-year term.
- Nancy Dreyer ’72 was elected a trustee for a four-year term.
We offer our congratulations to them on their election to the board as well as our appreciation for their commitment of time and talent as they serve in their important role in the governance of Brandeis.
On the basis of discussions about the board’s governance model over the past several months, the trustees adopted several bylaw amendments designed to streamline the decision-making process, enhance the communication between the board and the faculty, and strengthen leadership opportunities for trustees.
One amendment creates an Executive Committee of the board, a topic I have been discussing with the trustees for several months and a key recommendation of our recent New England Commission of Higher Education reaccreditation report. As is the best practice across higher education, the Executive Committee will serve as a consultation and advisory resource for the president and, when necessary, will be empowered to act on behalf of the entire board between regular board meetings.
Another amendment adds a formal provision for the board leadership to meet with the Faculty Senate chair and the faculty representatives to the board during each regular trustees meeting. By providing for meetings between faculty representatives and trustee leadership, independent of the administration, this amendment will promote open and productive communication between the faculty and the board.
The board also enacted a bylaw amendment reducing term limits of board committee chairs from six years to three, enabling the board to more effectively capitalize on the strengths of its uniformly talented members.
Finally, I am pleased to announce the selection of new faculty and student representatives to the board.
As the new Faculty Senate chair, Joel Christensen ’01, MA’01, associate professor of classical studies, will serve as an ex officio member of the board, and Sava Berhané, senior lecturer at Brandeis International Business School, and Dan Perlman, professor of biology and environmental studies, were elected faculty representatives to the board.
Zöe Fort ’21 was elected by the student government as the new undergraduate student representative to the board. A new graduate student representative will be chosen in the fall.
Let me take this opportunity to express my personal gratitude to the trustees for their participation in Brandeis’ 68th Commencement exercises, a truly memorable occasion. The presence of members of our governing board at this special occasion adds a great deal to the ceremony’s meaning and impact, and to the memories our graduates will carry with them into the future.