As has already been reported, Brandeis the Board of Trustees has selected our next President, Frederick M. Lawrence, dean of George Washington Law School. Reading just a little into his biography, he seems like a stand-up guy, working pretty effectively to uphold civil rights, particularly in the area of bias crimes. More importantly, he’s from Long Island, something which will undoubtedly connect him to most of the students on campus.
At the same time, as you may have guessed from the snarky cross-out in the previous graf, I’m still wary about decisions that are handed down to us from the Board of Trustees, especially when they have such a strong impact on the future of our community. Yes, I know, the selection process included ‘student input’ – a survey, an online forum, a town hall or two – but none of these constitute serious democratic involvement of the community. I’m not interested in beating dead horses, but the near-total lack of substantive power that students exercise within Brandeis administration is a cause for continuing concern.
This is why I believe we should start off on the good foot with President Lawrence (Freddy Law!) and have a serious town hall meeting early next semester, before his term begins. A small part of it – a very small part – should be allotted for him to introduce himself, to explain why he can best lead Brandeis and how he intends to do it. But the larger part, I hope, can be devoted to expression of student and staff concerns, issues, and desires for the future of our community. What I think would be especially great would be a presentation of a plan for accountability, for making sure that student concerns and demands are substantively addressed, and that individual administrators will find it in their best interests to act on student concerns.
What do people think?