Report on the June Board of Trustees Meeting

July 7, 2020

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

I am writing to report on actions taken by the Board of Trustees at its recent virtual meeting on June 29.

At this meeting, the board voted unanimously to endorse our Plans for Fall 2020. In reviewing this plan, the trustees expressed their appreciation for the many members of the Brandeis community who worked over the past several months to prepare our university for the fall semester. You can read more about our plans in my June 30 letter to the community.

The trustees also voted on several actions related to board governance and membership.

I am pleased to announce that the trustees elected Linda Heller Kamm '61 to the board. A retired public-interest attorney, Ms. Kamm's distinguished career has been defined by a series of firsts: In 1977, she was the first woman confirmed by the U.S. Senate as general counsel to a U.S. Cabinet department (Transportation), and she was the first woman named partner at the 178-year-old law firm Foley & Lardner. For more than four decades, she has played a role in advancing progressive social welfare and consumer-protection legislation nationally. Ms. Kamm has served in a variety of leadership positions at numerous Jewish-related organizations and is a longtime supporter of Brandeis, having served as a Brandeis Fellow since 2012 and, formerly, as a board member of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute. I am delighted to welcome Ms. Kamm to the board.

The board also elected Curtis H. Tearte '73 as a vice chair. A board member since 2014, Mr. Tearte has served in a number of leadership positions, including as chair of the Academy Committee. He worked at IBM for more than 30 years and now serves as the chairman and founder of the Tearte Family Foundation.

The board voted to make the ad hoc Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee a permanent standing committee of the board. Deborah Bial '87, H'12, will serve as the chair of this committee. Formed in October 2019, the ad hoc DEI Committee has provided advice and expertise to the administration and the board as we work to address DEI issues at Brandeis. In conjunction with Mark Brimhall-Vargas, the university's chief diversity officer, the committee has also helped set goals and monitor the university's progress as we seek to make Brandeis a more welcoming and inclusive place to live, learn, and work. I am grateful this important committee will continue to play a proactive — and now permanent — role in our institution's pursuit of justice, equity, and inclusion.

Finally, the board elected Leslie Aronzon '84 as a new at-large member of the Executive Committee; Barbara A. Dortch-Okara '71 as chair of the Academy Committee; and Daniel J. Jick '79, P'09, P'12, as chair of the Investment Committee. The board reelected Jonathan G. Davis '75 as a member of the Executive Committee.  

As Brandeis prepares for the challenging semester ahead, I want to thank the trustees for their ongoing engagement with our planning — and for their enduring commitment to our institution.

Best regards,

Ron