Thoughts on tonight

It’s hard to think of President Reinharz retiring. In my mind, to a large extent, he is Brandeis. Striving to succeed as an American school, but with a hint of Europe and the mysteries of Israel. Caught between strong egos and stronger words regarding Israel, and constantly adjusting to find the right amount of “Jewishness” for this campus. Jehuda codified the four pillars of Brandeis, among them a commitment to Social Justice. Under his watch, we’ve seen tangible signs of that commitment, such as the founding of the Ethics Center.

How can I speak to his faults and his greatness when his tenure is all that I’ve known? Brandeis is a great place, a lovely place, a wonderful place. I’ve learned so much, gained so much, loved so much here. How much of that is his doing? I have no idea. It’s quite easy to isolate the glaring flaws, the nagging problems, the frustrations that we’ve had with along the way, but much harder to isolate those deeper foundations that he’s laid down for us.

I’m rather upset that President Reinharz is leaving, and a bit scared. For what it’s worth, I think he’s a good guy. The longer I’ve lived on campus, the more I respect him. His job is hard! It’s not easy pleasing everyone. I’m not saying this because I’ve had pleasant interactions with him, far from it. Instead, his actions speak louder than words. Jehuda’s tenure has been a good one. Having been on campus only slightly longer than 2 years, I can’t get a grasp of his long stay at this place, and I don’t really know how much of Brandeis’ greatness came from him, but I suspect his contribution is substantial.

If I were Jehuda, I wouldn’t want news of my retirement broken in a tone less than somber or dignified. To the extent that we didn’t hold up to that standard, I sincerely apologize.

We’ll never really know the internal politics at Bernstein-Marcus, whether the lack of student involvement stemmed from Jehuda or in spite of him. The full story is beyond our grasp. Mr. Reinharz has always been gracious to students, and a friendly face at the head of large events. I remember him bantering with Ed Markey and announcing that water bottles would be banned from campus. I remember him giving a speech just today at the unveiling of the new Brandeis Stamp. I am glad that he’s sticking around, even for a little while.

The future of the University depends in part on our next selection of President. Justice Brandeis Semesters, expansion, faculty staffing levels, all of it. Our next big challenge as a community is to find that woman or man. Our challenge is to come together in an equitable and democratic way to choose a President that has the approval and support of the entire campus, from Provost to custodian. Our challenge is to make sure that the next President builds upon the pillars of the last.


8 thoughts on “Thoughts on tonight”

  1. I stumbled across this blog but thought I would add my two cents as an alumni who attended Brandeis when Handler was President. First, while his last year was mired in controversy overall President Reihartz has done an amazing job for Brandeis in many different respects from academics, to faculty, student life, buildings and fundraising. You need to look at his complete body of work. Second, anyone who does not think being President of a major university is a hard job simply has not yet had the expereince of working in an executive role in the real world. Not offence here but it is a very time consuming and difficult task with much to balance. Lastly, one of the most difficult balances any President will face is that between alumni, staff and students. All three are integral for the university to be a success. Students and faculty are the core of what Brandeis is today and that is how it should be. Alumni represent its past and are relevant for at the end of the day they are the major funding source for the university that provides scholarships and funding. The President whomever it is has to carefully balance all three who often are at different ends of the spectrum on issues due to life stages and beliefs. What that means is at times each group must have the understanding of the needs of the other and recognize that sometimes events do occur or cannot occur because it throws off the balance too much. May not be ideal for any particular group but life is a constant balancing act and a good President knows how to balance well.

  2. Not to be a dick, but is his job that hard? He’s the face of the university but not particularly an active participant in its community/educational direction. or not the sole one.

  3. Not to be a dick, but is his job that hard? He’s the face of the university but not particularly an active participant in its community/educational direction. or not the sole one.

  4. I agree with your assessment for 93.3% (14/15 years) of his tenure. In light of that, though I can’t say unequivocally that I’m sad to see him go, I’m grateful for everything he’s done for Brandeis, and I suspect I’ve benefited from some of it. I hope the next president can pull off a decade-plus streak of growth and harmony.

  5. Well said, Sahar. I couldn’t agree more with your take on Jehuda’s resignation. He has served Brandeis well, and his successor has really big shoes to fill.

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