The New Academic Year

Sept. 9, 2019

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Welcome back to campus. I hope everyone enjoyed a summer that had just the right balance of work and relaxation.

As we look ahead to the academic year, I want to tell you about our outstanding Class of 2023, introduce the individuals who recently joined our administration and faculty, and update you on the progress we have made in our Framework for Our Future planning during the summer.

A highlight of the beginning of every school year is Move-In Day, when student volunteers greet incoming first-years and their families, unload cars, and haul the arriving students’ belongings to their new rooms. The campus’s festive atmosphere and the easy move-in enjoyed by our first-year families were a testament to the great organizational skills and hard work of our students and staff.

The Class of 2023 is a unique and particularly accomplished group of students. Its 867 members, who come to us from 35 countries and speak 48 languages, will add much to the intellectual life of our university, and bring energy to our classrooms, labs, and studio spaces. Please join me in welcoming our new Brandeisians when you meet them on campus.

We have added several distinguished administrators to our ranks, who will handle important functions at Brandeis. Two are members of my leadership team: vice provost for student affairs Raymond Lu-Ming Ou, who joins us from Tufts University, and senior vice president for communications, marketing, and external relations Dan Kim, formerly a vice president at the College of the Holy Cross.

Also joining us this fall are Lauren Haynie, director of athletics, who comes from Wellesley College; Lois Stanley, vice president for campus operations, from Tufts University; and Hannah Peters, vice president of development, from Harvard. We will benefit greatly from the expertise and perspective our new colleagues bring to the university.

In addition, we welcome to campus a remarkable cohort of 30 new full-time faculty members, who join the four divisions of the School of Arts and Sciences, the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, and Brandeis International Business School. Please join me in welcoming them to the university.

Faculty members and administrators spent many hours over the summer further developing the planning roadmap we unveiled last fall — the Framework for Our Future. Senior administrators worked with the Framework Steering Committee, the academic leadership, and the Committee on Strategy and Planning to synthesize more than 250 task force recommendations, and began to craft an outline of top-level strategic priorities.

We also launched the Task Force on Focused Physical Planning, our fourth Framework task force. Along with physical plant experts from William Rawn Associates and Leggat McCall Properties, the task force met with the co-chairs of each of the original three task forces. It has subsequently engaged in discussions with senior administrators and met six times over the summer to identify a number of potential targeted investments in Brandeis’ physical infrastructure that will best advance the university’s long-term strategic goals. This fall, the Brandeis community will have opportunities to engage with the task force and give feedback on its emerging recommendations.

My senior leadership team and I have begun to draft the final Framework report, which will synthesize the work of the task forces, identify specific action plans and initiatives related to the Framework goals, and outline a series of strategic lenses that will inform discussions of Brandeis’ future. Our next step, in less than two weeks, will be consulting with the Board of Trustees. After making any updates that come out of that consultation, we will post the full task force and working group reports to the Framework website. Later this academic year, we will release a final Framework report.

My best wishes to all for a productive and rewarding academic year. As always, please let me know if you have any questions.