With S.U. President Andy Hogan’s State of the Union Address having been delivered a mere few hours ago (ok…8), one question is on the minds of all connected to the Brandeis community: how will Hogan lead the university in our search for a new president? More importantly, will he follow through on his promises to involve students in this search?
Well, he already has– to an extent. Hogan announced today that after much negotiation, the Presidential Selection Committee has agreed to accept a student on the board, that student being Hogan himself. This announcement came amidst uproar by students in reaction to the news that there would be no students on the Presidential Search Committee. But isn’t Andy Hogan, the SU president, too bogged down in in-school politics and the administration to advocate for us effectively in such a role? In addition, Hogan has been assigned the role of a “substantive representative”– he has no vote, only a limited say. I personally think this is a good start, but is not near enough. I hope that the SU will still make room for students to make an impact. Can’t we have a say in determining its future? After all, we’re greatly affected by this selection.
To start the process, we should figure out what qualities are most important to us in the selection of our next president.
Qualities almost everyone can agree on:
–Accessibility:whether or not you consider Reinharz a good president, he did have regularly scheduled open office hours during which students could contact him; I’d like to see an expansion of this policy. A president who is a good communicator, and understands the needs of students. Perhaps someone who has served as a head of communication at another institution.
–Ability to handle financial crisis: there has already been great outcry over the cutting of scholarships, and let’s not even mention the Rose Art Museum…our next president has to be able to deal with the ever-looming financial crisis Brandeis is in, and hopefully bring the Rose controversy to an end. Some ideas: hire a rich, self-made president who will wave his/her salary, say, like, Mayor Bloomberg of NYC, who receives only $1 a year from the government. Someone who has already helped other universities recuperate from similar dire financial straits. Someone who values the arts here at Brandeis, and so will not take rash, cost-cutting actions such as closing down POSSE and other scholarship programs/groups.
-Maintain the balance between secularism and Jewish sponsorship: I don’t think anything about the relationship Brandeis has with its Jewish sponsors, and its principles of secularism and non-sectarianism has to change. it would be enough for our future president to be someone who understands the importance of this shaky relationship. The next president must stand up to those who believe that Brandeis must reflect the views of its Jewish sponsors, at the expense of maintaining its objectivity. The next president must find new and better ways to focus Brandeis on social justice and action, based upon the principles of secular Judaism.
–Keep the Pillars:When Reinharz became president of Brandeis, he brought with him the Four Pillars, focusing Brandeis’ attention on social action, and identifying the university’s principles and goals. Just because he is leaving doesn’t mean Brandeis should abandon or lose track of these principles. The next Reinharz must be able to expand the university’s ability to achieve its goals of social justice, and find a way to make his/her personal visions for the university mesh with the path we have already been going down for some time now.
We need a new University president who will lift Brandeis up from the crises it has fallen into in recent years. One who will address the problems Hogan brought up, such as overcrowding, and who has a clear vision for the school. And the only way we can find one who shares our outlook is by having students give their input. Although Andy Hogan is certainly a student, because of his position in the SU he automatically comes into the selection process with a certain bias. And with no vote, to top it off. Please, Brandeis, remedy the situation, live up to the democratic principles you stand for, and allow a student who is unaffiliated with the SU to represent the opinions of other like students, to the committee.