Jehuda has good news for you

Just got an email from Jehuda to all of campus. I’ll let it speak for itself:

Dear Students,

As you prepare to leave campus for spring break, I want to share with you some of the good news from this week’s meetings of the Board of Trustees. It has been a very challenging winter at Brandeis, but the hard work of faculty, students and staff to address our challenges has paid off for the University.

First, the Board approved a $356 million operating budget for fiscal year 2011 that puts Brandeis on a path to a truly balanced operating budget by 2014. This is a great achievement in today’s economic climate, especially when we see many peer institutions facing deep, across-the-board budget cuts, some retrenchment in financial aid commitments, and extensive layoffs.

Brandeis chose a different and far more considered and strategic path.

The Brandeis 2020 Committee, comprised primarily of faculty members and chaired by Dean Adam Jaffe, was asked to take a comprehensive look at the School of Arts and Sciences and develop a plan to better balance the University’s resources with its commitments. In the end, while some programs were eliminated or changed and we will, over the next few years, lose 12 to 14 full- and part-time faculty and staff members, the committee concluded that its recommendations “make us more financially viable, better able to deliver the curriculum we remain committed to, and more flexible in responding to new demands and opportunities.”

Provost Marty Krauss gave thoughtful consideration to the committee’s 18 proposals and, with one exception, approved them. It is important to note that all current undergraduate and graduate students, as well as the incoming Class of 2014, will be able to finish the academic programs they began without any impact on their studies.

In addition to the Brandeis 2020 efforts, the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, the Brandeis International Business School and the Rabb School of Continuing Studies found ways to generate more income while maintaining the highest academic standards. The administration identified savings in energy contracts and in the way we deploy technology around the campus. The Board agreed to use cash reserves to cover some operating costs, while the full budget savings and revenue enhancements from all these efforts take effect over the next four years.

We have other long-range financial needs at Brandeis that must be systemically addressed, but my expectation is that we have passed through the most critical hours of our financial challenge, and we can now concentrate on teaching, scholarship and research rather than budgets.

The Board also heard some other good news.

Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Jean Eddy reported that we received 7,738 applications for admission this year — the largest number of applications in the University’s history. This in an increase from 6,815 last year, and tells me that, despite the tough economy and tough headlines Brandeis endured in the last year, potential students and their families recognize the value of the education they can receive here.

There are two other very encouraging facts I want to share with you that bode well for campus diversity in the future. Our international applications increased from 1,211 to 1,599, and applications from students of color increased from 1,706 to 2,111.

On the academic side, while we accepted almost exactly the same number of students, 2,573, our current acceptance rate is 33 percent compared to last year’s 40 percent and the Mean SAT of our accepted students went from 1392 to 1400.

The interests of our applicants remain extremely varied, but it is worth noting that two of our newest offerings, the undergraduate business major and undergraduate Film, TV & Media studies, are greatly in demand.

Applications to the Heller School IBS were also up this spring. Heller saw a 10 percent increase, while IBS reported a 14 percent increase in MSF and MAief applicants.

Continuing on student life issues, the Board approved a much-needed $9 million renovation of Charles River Apartments, which will be ready this fall. Students also told the Board they want to hear more from members of the administration, so when you return from break we’ll hold two campus-wide town meetings — one for undergraduates and one for graduate students. I encourage you to attend to let us know what’s on our mind.

I want to share some other high points: the Men’s Basketball Team charged to the Elite 8 in the NCAA’s Division III tournament, IBS was recognized as one of the top business schools in America by two influential publications, a PhD student once again won the prestigious Allan Nevins Prize awarded to the best-written doctoral dissertation on an American history topic, Heller faculty were recognized as national experts during the historic health care debate and vote in Washington, ground was broken for a large-scale public artwork by Michael Dowling for the Leonard Bernstein Festival of Creative Arts, and students launched creative ways to aid those in need in earthquake ravaged Haiti.

Finally, the presidential search committee reported that it is impressed with the number and quality of candidates interested in the presidency, and the committee will begin interviews later this spring.

These are just a handful of the many great things happening on campus, and they all help to define Brandeis today. As a community, we can all be very proud.

Enjoy a safe, happy and restful holiday break.

Best wishes,

Jehuda Reinharz


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