August 26, 2022
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
With the start of classes this week, I wanted to write and welcome new students, faculty, and staff to Brandeis, as well as welcome Brandeis veterans back to campus.
While most of you were away for the summer, our campus was quite active. Numerous programs returned to campus after their two-year Covid hiatus. Members of our Facilities teams have worked hard to keep our surroundings alive through an unusually hot summer and a prolonged drought. Many faculty—in addition to carrying out their research, creative work, and lab work—designed new courses, no doubt infused with technologies learned from having to teach in a hybrid environment. Orientation staff and student leaders developed new and exciting programming for our first-year class. And our administrative and support staff began to address so many projects that were difficult to tackle due to the impact of Covid. I know I speak on behalf of many when I extend my sincere and deep appreciation to both our faculty and staff for their sustained commitment to Brandeis through such a challenging two years.
As we look ahead, we should not lose sight of the way the Brandeis community managed through the pandemic and continued to live, learn, and work together so effectively; it should be a real point of pride for us. I thank each one of you for playing your part, enabling us to enjoy the in-person learning and social experiences that are so central to a Brandeis education. We will continue to place the health and safety of our community first as Covid-19 evolves, while at the same time seeking as full a return as possible to pre-Covid days of an open and social campus.
As we begin the new year, I wanted to highlight some of the new developments and events planned for the coming year:
- The Office of Sustainability, with the great help of a number of faculty, is launching Brandeis' Year of Climate Action, providing numerous curricular and co-curricular opportunities, hosting events, and equipping our community with the necessary resources to deepen our understanding of and take action against climate change.
- The Samuels Center for Community Partnerships and Civic Transformation (COMPACT), made possible through the generosity of Bobbi Samuels ’63 and her family, is up and running, and will host flagship programs to strengthen community engaged teaching, research, and creative projects. COMPACT will also support the new Community Engaged Scholars Program within the School of Arts and Sciences.
- The university will welcome Carol Anderson, author of White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of our Racial Divide, to our campus in October as the 2022 winner of the Joseph B. and Toby Gittler Prize.
- We continue the planning and design of a major science building, "Science Phase 2A," and are also conducting a housing planning study to explore opportunities for the construction of a new residence hall and dining facility.
These initiatives, along with many others, are supported by alumni and friends who believe in our mission and are committed to the success of the university. I am pleased to share that we had an extremely productive year in fundraising—the best since 2008—exceeding our overall goals and surpassing last year's totals by 70 percent. For the first time, the university closed in one year, and more specifically during the last five months of the fiscal year, five endowed professorships in five different areas of the curriculum. More information on these exceptional gifts will be shared soon, but this kind of support reflects the high regard in which our alumni and friends hold our faculty and wish to support and strengthen our academic program.
The newly arrived Class of 2026 joins an already dynamic and engaged student body and will no doubt begin making its mark on campus. As the largest class in university history with 996 students, our newest Brandeisians hail from 44 U.S. states, 37 countries, and speak 55 languages. More than 30 percent of the class identifies as people of color and nearly 20 percent come from abroad. I invite all of my faculty and staff colleagues to join me in engaging these students and offering them support as they acclimate themselves to our special community. And first-year students: do not hesitate to take the first step and engage your professors, members of the staff, and, yes, even the senior administration.
Along with our new students, there are a number of recent administrative appointments that I am happy to report here in one place: Harleen Singh began her appointment as Senior Associate Provost for Faculty and Global Affairs in July; Andrea Dine became our Interim Vice President of Student Affairs also in July; and Meredith Ainbinder began her role as Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to the President in June. We also welcome three new members of the Board of Trustees, elected earlier this month: Marjorie Hass, Leonard X Rosenberg ’89, and Jay Ruderman ’88, H’18. I am eager to begin my work with these individuals as we make progress on our institutional priorities and long-term aspirations.