2018 Self-Study Website

Faculty Governance Task Force

Faculty Governance Task Force Website

Pathways to Retirement

Brandeis Pathways to Retirement Plan for Tenured Faculty (PDF)

Collective Bargaining Agreement

SEIU Local 509 PT -NTT Faculty Agreement (PDF)

Faculty Work Life Survey

Faculty Work Life Survey

Remarks by Provost Lisa Lynch on Admitted Students’ Day

April 14, 2019

Good morning everyone, and welcome to Brandeis. For those of you visiting our campus for the first time we are so glad that you were able to make this trip. And for those of you returning to campus, welcome back. I want to extend an especially warm welcome to our alumni in the room today.

You may be asking yourself - what exactly is a Provost? And you will not be alone with that question! As Provost I serve as the University’s chief academic officer. That means I oversee and work closely with all of our Deans, our librarians, our staff in academic and student affairs, everyone in the athletics department, and our center and institute directors, including the Rose Art Museum, to advance our educational programs and research and creative works. I am deeply involved in institutional strategy and planning as well as advancing diversity, equity and inclusion at Brandeis.

Now that’s the official description of my position. The reality is that every day I count myself fortunate to be able to work with the most extraordinary and accomplished faculty, staff and student body.

I am so proud of the roots of our university. It was a most audacious enterprise when it was founded in 1948 in the face of anti-Semitism. From day one the university was open to all who had been excluded from higher education at that time – including not only Jews, but blacks, and women too. So diversity, equity and inclusion are not concepts that we have only recently adopted – they are part of our DNA from the beginning. Not only did Albert Einstein, play a critical role in the envisioning of the university, early faculty members at Brandeis included Eleanor Roosevelt, Leonard Bernstein, and Herbert Macuse. All of these individuals challenged the conventional wisdom of the time, thought outside of the box, and were deeply committed to using their knowledge for the betterment of society. These founding values and characteristics remain with us today.

Brandeis faculty are exceptional scholars and committed teachers. The ethos on this campus is that all faculty are dedicated to teaching and working at the highest levels of research.

We are at the sweet spot for a truly exceptional undergraduate experience – not too small so that by your junior or senior year you are feeling like your head is hitting the ceiling in terms of your academic opportunities. But we’re not too large so that you feel like you are wandering in a big university where the only way you will see a high profile professor is in a classroom of hundreds. Here our students work side- by side with their professors and truly explore without boundaries. Let me share with you some insights into our amazing faculty.

I will start with our Nobel Prize winner in medicine, Professor Michael Rosbash. He and his Brandeis colleague Jeffrey Hall, now an emeritus professor, studied fruit flies to better understand circadian rhythms - the inner biological clock that regulates almost all life on the planet. Their findings may one day lead to treatments for mental illness, Alzheimer's, heart disease and diabetes, all of which have been linked to our circadian rhythms becoming out of sync. When Professor Rosbash learned he had won the Nobel Prize he said, “I am grateful to my colleagues at Brandeis and to the unusual environment here that allows researchers to explore without boundaries while also engaging students in the process of discovery. This is a very special — perhaps unique — university.” Winning the Nobel Prize for medicine in a school without a medical school was a very special moment not only for our faculty but the entire university. It was a pretty good day for fruit flies, too.

This week – some of you may have seen the first ever pictures of a black hole – while the photo might have looked like an orange bagel or the eye of Sauron, Brandeis Professor of astrophysics John Wardle, an expert on radio astronomy, was part of the team that developed the black hole image by networking together radio telescopes at six locations across the globe. Through a collaboration of over 200 scientists and engineers around the world they were able to effectively create a "virtual telescope" with unprecedented sensitivity and resolution.

Collaboration is signature feature of Brandeis faculty. But it is not only something that is seen just in the sciences. This weekend one of the hottest tickets in town is to the Brandeis production of The Bacchae. Professor of Theater Arts Dmitry Troyanovsky and Professor of Classical Studies Joel Christensen collaborated on this production. Together they have created something fresh and new from a 2,400-year-old Greek story. Turning this ancient story into a more contemporary musical which features modernized choreography and wardrobes, the audience is drawn into a story that addresses themes of political tyranny and gender issues. Some pretty relevant topics for modern times! Both professors by the way did their undergraduate degrees at Brandeis, and we were thrilled to be able to recruit them back to Brandeis years later.

Collaboration though is not something that just happens between faculty members. Our faculty are deeply committed to engaging undergraduates and graduate students in their research. For example, political science Professor Jytte Klausen's current work aims to facilitate informed debate about how to counter domestic Islamist extremism by providing an evidence-based analysis of how Al-Qaeda Islamist extremism took root in Western Europe and North America, and how it operates today. Working with a small team of Brandeis graduate and undergraduate students, Professor Klausen and her students have developed a database of Western nationals associated with terrorist plots related to Al Qaeda. The project aims to help law enforcement identify individuals that who demonstrate behavioral signs of radicalization.

Earlier this year the National Academy of Sciences gave its award in the Neurosciences to Brandeis professor and alumna Eve Marder. The National Academy stated in the award that she is one of the most influential neuroscientists of her generation. Her research on small neural circuits found in lobsters and crabs has revolutionized our understanding of the fundamental nature of neuronal circuit operation. Now in other top research universities such a professor would be off limits to undergraduates. But Professor Marder takes great pride in making sure that her lab includes post-docs, graduate students and undergraduates.

In the humanities the nature of the scholarship can make it difficult to bring in a large team of student collaborators. But our humanities faculty bring students into their work through academic programming and classes aimed at strengthening students’ knowledge and critical thinking across multiple disciplines. I want to assure you that the study of the humanities at Brandeis is very much alive and well. For example, our faculty in Near Eastern and Judaic studies are second to none in this field. This is exemplified by Brandeis professor Jonathan Decter who recently won the Jewish Book Council’s 2018 National Jewish Book Award in the field of Sephardic culture for his work on Jewish centers in the Islamic Mediterranean between the tenth and thirteenth centuries.

Brandeis professor Lynn Kaye’s book, “Time in the Babylonian Talmud: Natural Imaged Times in Jewish Law and Narrative” was also a finalist for the National Jewish Book Council’s Nahum M. Sarna Memorial Award for Scholarship. The award is named after former Brandeis professor and biblical scholar Nahum Sarna, the late father of Jonathan Sarna currently a University Professor at Brandeis – a title shared by only one other professor at Brandeis – Anita Hill.

Yes, Professor Anita Hill is here at Brandeis. When she became university professor in 2015, our then president said, “Anita Hill is a national voice on the complex and often challenging issues of race, gender and workplace discrimination in America. Her legal and social scientific scholarship and her experience as a public servant have given her a perspective that she uses so effectively in the classroom, as a mentor to our students, and as a faculty colleague."

What does it mean to be a student surrounded by faculty like these and so many others? It means that you have the opportunity to put together a unique academic journey for yourself. Let me give you a couple of examples.

Jonathan Goldman, a senior at Brandeis, is a double major in politics and philosophy and a triple minor in economics, legal studies, and social justice and social policy. But his list of accomplishments outside the classroom is as lengthy as his majors and minors. He's a member of the Brandeis Academic Debate and Speech Society (BADASS), he co-founded a nonprofit, The Right to Immigration Institute (TRII), to provide legal resources for immigrants in Waltham, and in November 2017 he became the youngest elected member of the Massachusetts Democratic State Committee. The Right to Immigration Institute helps immigrants navigate legal issues through consultation, workshops and legal representation. He is already using his Brandeis knowledge to provide voice to those without voice and to help repair the world.

Rising junior Yolanda Chen is a double major in Applied Math and Economics. She has worked as a Chinese language tutor and as a grader for the Math Department. She is a member of the Brandeis Rock Climbing Club and off campus she volunteers with Made for Love, a Boston Based NGO that helps bring sex education classes to children in rural towns in China.

I want to assure you that these stories of what some of our students are studying and doing outside the classroom are meant to inspire you not terrify you. But I also know that for incoming undergraduates the most common major students say they want to study is “I don’t know”. And that’s just fine with us. The beauty of a liberal arts education is you have an opportunity to explore and discover your passions.

Our new Brandeis core curriculum is designed to help you find your way with a first year experience. It combines an intensive University writing seminar with critical conversations with faculty from across the university who discuss contrasting approaches to a specific theme – Given our school’s motto of Truth Even Unto its Innermost Parts, this year our theme will be Truth.

As part of our Brandeis core we have revamped the sometimes dreaded PE requirement to a sequence of courses in Health, Wellness and life skills. The goal is to help you develop a set of practical skills like financial literacy as well as establishing productive mind and body habits that will carry you through the rest of your life.

Since we live in an increasingly interconnected world our core requirement also includes courses geared towards raising your understanding of what it means to be globally engaged. In these courses you have the chance to explore social, political, cultural and linguistic diversity here in the US and around the world.

The schools of thought requirement exposes students to approaches, perspectives, insights and methodologies from a variety of disciplines. And foundational literacies – digital literacy, oral communication, writing intensive and quantitative reasoning -- help you develop these skills within your major.

In sum, a key feature of a Brandeis experience is academic rigor and intellectual curiosity. Here you can push yourself academically – but this is done in a culture where the operative word is kindness. The goal is not to do better than your classmate in a class memorizing material. But rather to truly learn the material, explore the concepts and apply your knowledge elsewhere.

On this campus we love vigorous debate and discussion – we like to debate everything – from Middle East policy, to sports, and to who is going to survive in Game of Thrones. We debate even when we agree with one another – but all of this gets us to constantly challenge conventional assumptions and promotes a more nuanced and informed understanding of the positions we take. This is how we advance critical thinking.

Another feature of the Brandeis experience from the beginning is our commitment to social justice. Having said this there are probably no two people on this campus who would define those two words the same. But across the campus you see a commitment to using knowledge and skills to advance the betterment of others – in many different ways. That common sense of purpose brings us together – we just do it in many different ways.

But don’t take this from me – make sure today that you talk with students, recent alums and faculty – we know that you would thrive and flourish at Brandeis and I hope you leave your visit equally convinced if you weren’t already.

Parents, family and friends – Being a parent or guardian of a newly admitted college student certainly can have its share of joy and challenges. It can be an overwhelming process supporting your student as they make what seems to be the most decision of their life.

I may be Provost but the thing I am proudest of is that I am also a Brandeis Mom. Our daughter graduated in 2017, a double major in Biology and Italian, a member of the cross country and track teams, a volunteer in a local hospice and a peer advocate in our office of prevention, advocacy and resource center. After graduation she was gainfully employed and now is a first year medical student at Harvard. I knew when she was visiting schools for admitted students’ day that Brandeis would be the place for her. But it was ever so hard to hold my tongue and let her make her own choice. Over her four years here I watched with joy and admiration how she and her classmates grew and changed into the most amazing and complex adults they are today.

So welcome to Brandeis, and on behalf of the entire faculty and staff we cannot wait to See You Be You here at Brandeis!