January Board of Trustees Meeting Report
February 27, 2023
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
I hope that your spring semester is off to a productive start. I’m writing to report on the Board of Trustees meetings, which were held virtually on January 30 and 31.
Over the course of these two days, the trustees had the opportunity to meet with students, faculty, and staff, in committees and during virtual lunches. These meetings were engaging, and productive, and signaled a strong commitment from those in attendance to support Brandeis.
In the meeting's plenary session, Interim Senior Vice President of Institutional Advancement Hannah Peters reviewed the campaign planning work to date and provided insight on how the upcoming fundraising campaign’s goals, including amount and scope, were determined. The board then voted to proceed with a comprehensive campaign, the “quiet phase” of which is scheduled to launch July 1, 2023. I also updated the Board on various topics during the plenary session. A few include:
- I discussed the latest planning for the 75th Anniversary Year, which will officially begin on July 1, 2023, and last until Commencement 2024. The main celebration will take place from October 13-15, and combines alumni weekend, family weekend, and homecoming with the anniversary.
- I also spoke to the Board about our new format for Commencement this year. A large ceremony for undergraduates will take place in the morning, and another for graduates in the afternoon. Under this new format, all students will be able to walk across the stage in the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center.
- I shared information about our successful mid-year orientation, in which we welcomed 129 new students to campus.
I am pleased to share that the Board accepted the recommendations to grant the following faculty promotions and appointments:
- Karen Desmond was promoted to the rank of professor with tenure in the Music department.
- Avital Rodal was promoted to the rank of professor with tenure in the Department of Biology.
- Gowri Vijayakumar was promoted to the rank of associate professor with tenure in the Sociology department.
- Derron Wallace was promoted to the rank of associate professor with tenure in the Department of Sociology and the Education Program.
Please join me in congratulating Professors Desmond, Rodal, Vijayakumar, and Wallace. I am grateful for everything that each of these gifted faculty members does for the Brandeis community.
Lastly, the Board approved memorial resolutions for several beloved Brandeis community members, fellow Judith Paull Aronson '55, G '21, fellow Gerald S. Fineberg, fellow Laurel E. Friedman, and trustee emeritus and fellow Paul E. Levenson '52, P '78, P '82, H'87. May their memories be a blessing.
Highlights from the Board Committees
The Academy Committee approved a proposal to alter the Brandeis Education Program, by discontinuing its Master’s in Teaching (MAT) and BA/MAT programs that were housed in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. This change is based on the Education Program’s new focus on undergraduate education, and the prioritization of the liberal-arts-oriented components of its curriculum.
The committee also discussed strategic questions and goals for the upcoming year, and they looked back upon a review of the university’s PhD programs, which showed, among other things, that doctoral students who complete their program from Brandeis have similar or better outcomes when compared to our peer institutions. The committee will continue to discuss the findings of the PhD program review at future meetings.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee
Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion LeManuel “Lee” Bitsóí updated the DEI committee on new staff hires for his office, which is working on various initiatives, including a DEI strategic plan for the university which will incorporate and integrate the Black Action Plan and anti-racism plans. Bitsóí also mentioned that the office currently has three student interns who are hard at work to develop a DEI peer education model.
Institutional Advancement (IA) Committee
Interim Senior Vice President Hannah Peters and Associate Vice President of Development Stephen Rodriguez reviewed FY '23 fundraising progress to date and projections for the remainder of the fiscal year. The committee also discussed overall opportunities and challenges in IA and campaign planning priorities. Patsy Fisher reviewed how planning for the upcoming 75th anniversary weekend continues to advance.
Nominating and Governance Committee
At the Nominating and Governance Committee meeting, members discussed processes for trustee recruitment and trustee term renewal. They also discussed a review of the trustees’ roles & responsibilities.
Members of the Resources Committee received an update on financial results and the budgeting process for FY’24, and discussed how to develop a more strategically-oriented committee agenda.
Risk Management and Audit Committee
The Risk Management and Audit Committee reviewed our insurance program and discussed the consideration of joining with other local universities to create a captive insurance company for certain lines of coverage, along with reviewing the results from two recent internal audits, which are complete. The committee also talked about ongoing education on phishing scam e-mails for the Brandeis community at large.
Student Life Committee
The Student Life committee engaged in a conversation about the two campus climate surveys that were conducted in the fall: the HEDS Survey (focused on DEI) and the NCHA Health Survey. The university is looking forward to receiving, analyzing, and sharing Brandeis' data in the context of national data for both instruments.
I am extremely grateful to the Board for their time, their expertise, and their commitment to Brandeis, and our mission. I’d also like to thank the staff, faculty, and student representatives to the Board for their valuable contributions to these important conversations about the future of our university.