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Brandeis University
Mottoאמת ("Emet", Hebrew)
Motto in EnglishTruth even unto its innermost parts[1]
EndowmentUS $704 million[2]
PresidentFrederick M. Lawrence
ProvostSteve A.N. Goldstein
Academic staff326 full-time, 139 part-time
Admin. staff961 full-time, 216 part-time
LocationWaltham, Massachusetts, USA
CampusSuburban, 235 acres (0.95 km2)
Colors     Blue      White
AthleticsNCAA Division III
MascotOllie the Owl (named for Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.)

Brandeis University /ˈbrænds/ is an American private research university with a liberal arts focus.[3] It is located in Waltham, Massachusetts, nine miles (14 km) west of Boston. The university has an enrollment of approximately 3,500 undergraduate and 2,100 graduate students.[4] In 2011, it was ranked by the U.S. News and World Report as the number 33 national university in the United States.[5] Forbes listed Brandeis University as number 57 among all national universities and liberal arts colleges combined in 2010.[6]

Brandeis was founded in 1948 as a nonsectarian Jewish-sponsored coeducational institution on the site of the former Middlesex University. The university is named for Louis Brandeis (1856–1941), the first Jewish Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.



Names associated with the founding of Brandeis include Israel Goldstein, George Alpert, C. Ruggles Smith, Albert Einstein, and Abram L. Sachar.

File:Brandeis-Usen Castle.JPG

Usen Castle, an iconic building on campus

C. Ruggles Smith was the son of Dr. John Hall Smith, founder of Middlesex University, who had died in 1944. In 1946, the university was on the brink of financial collapse. At the time, it was one of the few medical schools in the U. S. that did not impose a Jewish quota; but it had never been able to secure AMA accreditation—in part, its founder believed, due to institutional antisemitism in the AMA[7]—and, as a result, Massachusetts had all but shut it down.

Israel Goldstein was a prominent rabbi in New York from 1918 until 1960 (when he immigrated to Israel), and an influential Zionist. Before 1946, he had headed the New York Board of Rabbis, the Jewish National Fund, and the Zionist Organization of America, and helped found the National Conference of Christians and Jews. On his eightieth birthday, in Israel, Yitzhak Rabin and other leaders of the government, the parliament, and the Zionist movement assembled at his house to pay him tribute.[8] But among all his accomplishments, the one chosen by the New York Times to headline his obituary was: "Rabbi Israel Goldstein, A Founder of Brandeis."[9]

C. Ruggles Smith, desperate for a way to save something of Middlesex University, learned of a New York committee headed by Goldstein that was seeking a campus to establish a Jewish-sponsored secular university, and approached Goldstein with a proposal to give the Middlesex campus and charter to Goldstein's committee, in the hope that his committee might "possess the apparent ability to reestablish the School of Medicine on an approved basis." Goldstein was concerned about being saddled with a failing medical school, but excited about the opportunity to secure a 100-acre (0.40 km2) "campus not far from New York, the premier Jewish community in the world, and only 9 miles (14 km) from Boston, one of the important Jewish population centers."[7] Goldstein agreed to accept Smith's offer and then proceeded to recruit George Alpert, a Boston lawyer with fund-raising experience as national vice president of the United Jewish Appeal.

George Alpert (1898-September 11, 1988) had worked his way through Boston University School of Law and co-founded the firm of Alpert and Alpert. His firm had a long association with the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, of which he was to become president from 1956 to 1961[10][11] He is best known today as the father of Richard Alpert (Baba Ram Dass).[12] He was influential in Boston's Jewish community. His Judaism "tended to be social rather than spiritual."[13] He was involved in assisting children displaced from Germany.[14] Alpert was to be chairman of Brandeis from 1946 to 1954, and a trustee from 1946 until his death.[10]

Goldstein also recruited Albert Einstein, whose involvement, while stormy and short-lived, was extremely important, as it drew national attention to the nascent university. The founding organization was named "The Albert Einstein Foundation for Higher Learning, Inc." and early press accounts emphasized his involvement.

Einstein incident


Chapels Pond

The origin of what was to become Brandeis was closely associated with the name of Albert Einstein from February 5, 1946,[15] when he agreed to the establishment of the Albert Einstein Foundation for Higher Learning, Inc., until June 22, 1947, when he withdrew his support.[16]

The trustees offered to name the university after Einstein in the summer of 1946, but Einstein declined, and on July 16, 1946 the board decided the university would be named after Louis Brandeis.[17]

On August 19, the plans for the new university were announced by prominent rabbi and Zionist Israel Goldstein, president of the Albert Einstein Foundation. Goldstein said that the planned university was to be supported by contributions from Jewish organizations and individuals, and stressed the point that the institution was to be without quotas and open to all "regardless of race, color, or creed." The institution was to be "deeply conscious both of the Hebraic tradition of Torah looking upon culture as a birthright, and of the American ideal of an educated democracy."[18] In later stories the New York Times' capsule characterization of Brandeis was "a Jewish-supported non-quota university."[16]

Einstein and Goldstein clashed almost immediately. Einstein objected to what he thought was excessively expansive promotion, and to Goldstein's sounding out Abram L. Sachar as a possible president without consulting Einstein. Einstein took great offense at Goldstein's having invited Cardinal Francis Spellman to participate in a fundraising event. Einstein resigned on September 2, 1946. Believing the venture could not succeed without Einstein, Goldstein quickly agreed to resign himself, and Einstein returned; his brief departure was publicly denied.[16][19]

The Foundation acquired the campus of the Middlesex University in Waltham, which was almost defunct except for the Middlesex Veterinary and Medical College. The charter of this small and marginal operation was transferred to the Foundation along with the campus. The Foundation had pledged to continue operating it, but began to feel that it would never be more than third-rate, while its operating costs were burdensome at a time when the Foundation was trying to raise funds. Disputes arose whether to try to improve it—as Einstein wished[20]—or to terminate it.[19] Einstein also became alarmed by press announcements that exaggerated the school's success at fundraising, and on June 22, 1947 he made a final break with the enterprise. The veterinary school was closed, despite "indignant and well-publicized protests and demonstrations by the disappointed students and their parents".[19] George Alpert, a lawyer responsible for much of the organizational effort, gave another reason for the break: Einstein's desire to offer the presidency of the school to left-wing scholar Harold Laski. Alpert characterized Laski as "a man utterly alien to American principles of democracy, tarred with the Communist brush."[15] He said, "I can compromise on any subject but one: that one is Americanism."[19]

Six years later, Einstein would decline the offer of an honorary degree from Brandeis, writing to Brandeis president Abram L. Sachar that "what happened in the stage of preparation of Brandeis University was not at all caused by a misunderstanding and cannot be made good any more."[15]

Historians Slater and Slater commented that "plagued by infighting, Brandeis in early 1948 seemed a project in serious trouble. Nonetheless, the school opened in the fall with 107 students." The historians list the opening of Brandeis as one of their "Great Moments in Jewish History."[21]

In 1954 Brandeis inaugurated a graduate program and became fully accredited.[21] In 1985, Brandeis was elected to membership in the Association of American Universities, an association that focuses on graduate education and research.[22]

Student takeover of Ford Hall

From January 8–18, 1969 about 70 students captured and held then-student-center, Ford Hall.[23] The student protesters renamed the school "Malcolm X University" for the duration of the siege (distributing buttons with the new name and logo) and issued a list of ten demands for better minority representation on campus.[24] Most of these demands were subsequently met. Ford Hall was demolished in August 2000 to make way for the Shapiro Campus Center, which was opened and dedicated October 3, 2002.

Rose Art Museum

The Rose Art Museum opened in 1961, the result of a decade-long struggle to house the art donations Brandeis had been receiving. Abram Sachar had written of the importance of fine arts to Brandeis and his "determination to expose our students and faculty to every kind of art orientation." Of the museum itself he had written:

There were murmurs on and off campus about the imprudence of a university in hankering after an art museum when it needed so much else in terms of 'basic' commitments. As often before and since, the dilemma was resolved because we followed, loosely to be sure, Thackeray's sanguine guidance: "Keep one eye on heaven, and one on the main chance."[25]

But in response to a university budget shortfall of $10 million, a formerly $700 million endowment now reduced, and the loss of longtime donors who lost money through investments with Bernard Madoff, on January 26, 2009 the university announced it would close the Rose Art Museum in September 2009 and sell off a prized collection of contemporary American art, stating "The bottom line is that the students, the faculty and core academic mission come first. (Trustees) had to look at the college's assets and came to a decision to maintain that fundamental commitment to teaching."[26][27] Amidst protests and criticism, the Massachusetts Attorney General plans to review the planned sale and wills and agreements between the museum and donors.[28] The university subsequently indicated that it would sell only a limited number of pieces, if any, and would keep the museum open as a teaching and exhibition gallery.[29]

The failure to resolve the university's budget difficulties through the art sell-off led to a decision in May 2009 to suspend the university's contribution to employees' retirement funds for one year.[30]

Brandeis University's president, Jehuda Reinharz, announced that he would resign at the end of the academic year, the Boston Globe reported. The announcement took many on the campus by surprise, but Mr. Reinharz said the recent criticism over his financial stewardship and plans to close the university's Rose Art Museum was not a factor in his decision. At age 65, he said, he felt the time had come to move on. A new president, Frederick M. Lawrence, took office on January 1, 2011.

By June 30, 2011, a lawsuit that had been brought against the university to prevent the closing of the Rose was settled. The museum remains open, and no works of art were sold to support university operations. The 50th anniversary and reopening took place on October 25, 2011.[31]


The presidents of Brandeis University have been:

  • Abram L. Sachar 1948–68
  • Morris Berthold Abram 1968–70
  • Charles I. Schottland 1970–72
  • Marver H. Bernstein 1972–83
  • Evelyn E. Handler 1983–91
  • Stuart H. Altman (interim) 1990–91
  • Samuel O. Thier 1991–94[32]
  • Jehuda Reinharz 1994–2010
  • Frederick M. Lawrence January 1, 2011-


The schools of the University include:

  • The College of Arts and Sciences
  • The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
  • The Heller School for Social Policy and Management
  • Rabb School of Summer and Continuing Studies
  • Brandeis International Business School

The College of Arts and Sciences comprises 24 departments and 22 interdepartmental programs, which, in total, offer 43 majors and 47 minors.

The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, founded in 1959, is noteworthy for its graduate programs in healthcare administration, social policy, social work, and international development.[33][34]

Internships, research assistantships and other hands-on experiences are available throughout the curriculum. The global and experiential dimensions of education at Brandeis are carried out through international centers and institutes, which sponsor lectures and colloquia and add to the ranks of distinguished scholars on campus.

The Brandeis University Press, a member of the University Press of New England, publishes books in a variety of scholarly and general interest fields.

The Goldfarb Library at Brandeis has more than 1.6 million volumes and 300,000 e-journals. The library also houses a large United States Government archive. Brandeis University is a part of the Boston Library Consortium, which allows its students, faculty, and staff to access and borrow books and other materials from other BLC institutions including, Brown University, Tufts University, and Williams College.

Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies

In 1980, Brandeis University established the Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies,[35] the first academic center devoted to the study of Jewish life in the United States.

The Cohen Center’s work spans basic research on Jewish identity to applied educational evaluation studies. The center’s recent signature studies include research with participants in Taglit-Birthright Israel, investigations of synagogue transformation, and analyses of Jewish summer camping. CMJS research has altered the understanding of contemporary Jewish life and the role of Jewish institutions in the United States.

Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism

The Elaine and Gerald Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism was launched in September 2004 as the first investigative reporting center based at a United States university.

The Institute's major projects are:

  • the Political & Social Justice Project
  • the Justice Brandeis Innocence Project
  • the Gender & Justice Project.[36]

Steinhardt Social Research Institute

The Steinhardt Social Research Institute[37] was created in 2005 from a gift from Michael Steinhardt as a forum to collect, analyze, and disseminate data about the Jewish community and about religion and ethnicity in the United States. The first mission of SSRI was to interpret the inherent problems with the National Jewish Population Survey of 2000 (NJPS). SSRI has done a Jewish Population Survey of the Greater Boston area, the results of which were released on November 9, 2006.[38]

The Institute collects and organizes existing socio-demographic data from private, communal, and government sources and will conduct local and national studies of the character of American Jewry and Jewish organizations.

The work of the Institute is done by a multidisciplinary staff of faculty and scholars, working with undergraduate and graduate students, and augmented by visiting scholars and consultants.

The Institute works in close collaboration with the Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies.

Women's Studies Research Center

The Women's Studies Research Center, founded and directed by sociology professor Shulamit Reinharz is located at the Epstein Building on the Brandeis campus.


University rankings
Forbes[39] 55
U.S. News & World Report[40] 33
Washington Monthly[41] 40
ARWU[42] 201-300
QS[43] 318
Times[44] 150
  • Brandeis University was ranked No. 21 among the top 25 national universities in the country, according to recently released rankings by the Center for College Affordability & Productivity (CCAP), an independent, not-for-profit center based in Washington, D.C.[45]
  • US News and World Report ranked Brandeis No. 31 in their 2012 annual list of Best National Universities, tied with Boston College. Acceptance to Brandeis was categorized under "Most Selective". It was also ranked No. 9 of "Most Liberal Students"[46]
  • No. 24 among 50 Best Values in Private Colleges according to Kiplinger (2009)[47]
  • No. 30 among 567 undergraduate institutions and top 15 among national research universities in a recent ranking from[48][49]
  • One of the "Top 20 Small Research Universities" based on the Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index (2006–07)[50]
  • No. 27 among Top American Private Research Universities by The Center for Measuring University Performance (2008)[50]
  • Received a "B-" grade on the Campus Sustainability Report Card 2009 and a "B" grade in 2010 published by the Sustainable Endowments Institute (including "A" grades in the Student Involvement, Administration, and Investment Priorities).[51] Just 23% of schools earned overall grades of "B" or better.[52]
  • Named the 31st "Most Stressful College" by The Daily Beast in 2010
  • When adjusted for size, Brandeis is fifth in the nation in terms of faculty members elected to academic honor societies.
  • Education Program was listed as one of the top 10 teacher education programs of any liberal arts college in 2010.[53]
  • No. 5 among the universities with the highest GMAT scores[54]

Notable faculty and graduates

Brandeis, which is one of America's smallest and youngest research universities, has produced a body of unusually accomplished alumni, especially in academia, the professions, and literature, and can boast a distinguished faculty.

Among the better-known graduates are screenwriters for the television show Friends David Crane and Marta Kauffman, political activists Abbie Hoffman and Angela Davis, journalist Thomas Friedman, Congressman Stephen J. Solarz, physicist Edward Witten, novelist Ha Jin, political theorist Michael Walzer, actress Debra Messing, philosopher Michael Sandel, Olympic Silver Medalist fencer Timothy Morehouse, social and psychoanalytic theorist Nancy Chodorow, and author Mitch Albom.

Among the distinguished faculty, present and past, are composers David Rakowski and Leonard Bernstein, social theorist Herbert Marcuse, psychologist Abraham Maslow, human rights activist Eleanor Roosevelt, Anita Hill, historian David Hackett Fischer, economist Thomas Sowell, diplomat Dennis Ross, children's author Margret Rey, former United States Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, sociologist Morrie Schwartz, and poet Adrienne Rich.


  • The Justice, which was founded in 1949 (one year after the university's inception) is an administratively independent weekly newspaper distributed every Tuesday during term.
  • The Brandeis Hoot, founded in 2005, is an independent weekly newspaper published on Fridays.
  • The Blowfish, a satirical newspaper which was founded in February 2006 is published every other Thursday. The first issue appeared inside The Hoot and every issue since then has been published independently.
  • The Louis Lunatic, founded in the winter of 2005, is a student-run sports magazine released each semester, discussing Brandeis and national sports.
  • Archon, the yearbook
  • Gravity, a humor magazine founded in 1990.
  • Laurel Moon, a literary magazine launched in 1991.
  • Where the Children Play, a literature and arts magazine
  • Louis Magazine, a defunct journal of intellectual discourse, 1999–2002.
  • The Barrister News Ltd, a politically neutral broadside weekly newspaper with nationally syndicated features. 1985–1991.[3]
  • Under the Robe, an arts and entertainment social tabloid published by The Barrister 1985-1988
  • The Brandeis Scope , reports on research that is occurring on the Brandeis University campus and affiliated laboratories in the sciences
  • The Pulse, reports on advances in medicine; published by the Pre-Health Society


File:Brandeis Ollie.jpg

Athletics logo

The Brandeis University athletic teams The Judges compete in the University Athletic Association (UAA) conference of the NCAA Division III.

Brandeis has 10 varsity teams for both men and women, and 1 co-ed varsity team. The varsity teams are in:

Brandeis also has 20 club sports and numerous intramural sports, including sailing ( formerly a varsity sport), rugby union, ultimate, crew, lacrosse, field hockey, squash, men's volleyball, quidditch and martial arts.[55] Staff and faculty are allowed to play on intramural teams.


Archaeological work in Cyprus (at Kalavasos-Tenta) by a team from the university, went on from 1976[56] to 1984.

Student life


Shapiro Campus Center

The university has an active student government, the Brandeis Student Union,[57] as well as more than 270 student organizations.[58] Fraternities and sororities are officially prohibited by Brandeis University, as they are contrary to a central tenet of the university, namely, that student organizations be open to all students, with membership determined by competency or interest. According to an official handbook, "[e]xclusive or secret societies are inconsistent with the principles of openness to which the University is committed.".[59]

Brandeis has eleven a cappella groups, six undergraduate-run theater companies, one sketch comedy troupe, and four improv-comedy groups, as well as many other cultural and arts clubs. Brandeis is also home to what has been cited as one of the country's few undergraduate-run law publications.[60] Of particular note is the Brandeis Academic Debate and Speech Society (B.A.D.A.S.S.) which consistently ranks as one of the top 10 debate teams in the United States, and participates across the globe in the World Universities Debating Championships each year.

Cholmondeley's coffeehouse, commonly referred to as "Chums", is located in Brandeis' Usen Castle. Chums is a popular site for student performances and concerts, including Tracy Chapman, Joan Baez, Matt Pond PA, and Genesis (notable as their first American performance). Early footage of Chums appears in the short documentary film, Coffee House Rendezvous.[61] Cholmondley's is named after a notoriously ill-tempered Basset hound that was the on-campus pet for Ralph Norman, the campus photographer during the first years of Brandeis. He would roam the campus after dark, growling at students, often nipping at their cuffs and making a general nuisance of himself. After his death, the coffee house was named for him, not so much in remembrance but in celebration.[62]

Brandeis University's Campus Sustainability Initiative seeks to reduce the University's environmental and climate change impact. The University's accomplishments in the arena of sustainability include the creation of a student-organized on-campus Farmers' Market, the implementation of a single-stream recycling program, and the transition to GreenE certified wind power for 15% of the school's electricity needs.[63] Brandeis also offers a course called "Greening the Campus and Community," in which students "examine the environmental impacts of the Brandeis and Waltham community, and then design and implement projects to address those impacts."[64] Student projects have included greening campus offices, running after-school environmental education programs for children in the Waltham schools, and cleaning up local streams and ponds.[64]

Students also have the option of taking courses with a 'Community Engaged Learning' (CEL) aspect. Community-engaged learning is an aspect of the university's broad-based commitment to experiential learning.

View of the Boston Skyline from Brandeis University

Emergency medical services are provided by the Brandeis Emergency Medical Corps, a Massachusetts-certified EMT-Basic volunteer student organization[65] which does not charge a fee for any of its emergency services.[66]

Security escort services are provided around the campus and into Waltham by the student-run "Branvan," which runs on a daily schedule from 4:00 pm to 2:30 am on weekdays and from 12:00 pm to 2:30 am on weekends.

The university is 9 miles (14 km) west of Boston and is accessible through Brandeis/Roberts station on the Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line, a free shuttle that services Boston and Cambridge (Harvard Square) Thursday through Sunday,[67] the nearby Riverside subway station (above ground) on the Green Line, and the 553 MBTA Bus.[68]

Wien International Scholarship

Wien International Scholarship is a scholarship instituted by Brandeis University for international undergraduate students. The Wien International Scholarship was established in 1958 by Lawrence A. and Mae Wien. The Wien family had three objectives: to further international understanding, to provide foreign students an opportunity to study in the United States, and to enrich the intellectual and cultural life at Brandeis. The Wien Scholarship offers full or partial tuition awards; these awards are need-based and require the applicants to present outstanding academic and personal achievement. Each year, the recipients of the scholarship take a week-long tour of a destination in the United States. In previous years, the students have visited the United Nations in New York City, and did relief work in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. In April 2008, the University hosted a 3-day long celebration for the 50th anniversary of the program.[69]

Institute for Informal Jewish Education

The Institute for Informal Jewish Education aims to support Jewish educators in creating meaningful Jewish experiences through professional development opportunities including pre-service experiences, in-service experiences related to educators’ practice, practitioner research, curriculum development, and strategic organizational support.[70] The IJE is funded partially through grants, from The Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, The Legacy Heritage Fund, The Covenant Foundation, and AVI CHAI Foundation.[71]

Current IJE projects include:[72]

  • Shabbat Enhancement/Experiential Educator grants.
  • New Ways to Enhance Community Hebrew High Schools Principal Leadership Seminar.
  • Executive Leadership Institute for Camp directors.
  • Merging the formal and informal education in synagogue middle schools.

The IJE runs two summer programs for high school students:

  • Genesis integrates Jewish studies, humanities and community building.
  • BIMA offers intensive opportunities to deepen skills in music, painting, creative writing and theater within a Jewish context.

The IJE has close partnerships with The North American Association of Community Hebrew High Schools and Foundation for Jewish Camp.[citation needed]

See also

Portal icon Massachusetts portal
Portal icon Schools portal
  • List of Brandeis University people
  • National Center for Jewish Film
  • Rosenstiel Award


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External links

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