Framework task forces work with Board of Trustees

March 8, 2019

The co-chairs of the three task forces on Student Learning and Living, Supporting Research Creativity and Collaboration and Honoring Brandeis’ Founding Values led hour-long workshops with the Board of Trustees in late January, according to an email released by President Ron Liebowitz. The task forces were established after Liebowitz’s “A Framework for Our Future” address in November of 2018.

The main focus of the meeting looked at “how best to enhance the student experience; broaden our research and scholarly capacity; and articulate more effectively our Jewish roots, and their relevance to Brandeis today and tomorrow,” Liebowitz wrote in his email.

Professor Kim Godsoe (SOC) and Professor Sara Shostak (SOC) are leaders of the Task Force on the Student Learning/Living Experience. Professor Constance Horgan (HS) and Professor Sacha Nelson (NBIO) lead the Task Force on Supporting Research, Creativity and Collaborative Innovation, while Liebowitz and Professor Jon Levisohn (NEJS) and Professor Chad Williams (AAAS) lead the Task Force on Honoring Our Founding Values.

The Student Learning/Living Experience Task Force is currently on “an intensive listening tour,” with 60 meetings that include students, faculty, staff and alumni, according to the email. The group worked with the Alumni Association board members and the Office of Alumni Relations and the Alumni Association Board on distributing a survey to all alumni in early February.

The Department of Community Service also assisted in hosting a meeting with 15 community partners in Waltham to discuss engagement of the university. They have also been looking at other highly selective universities similar to Brandeis to bring the models of other schools to campus.

The Supporting Research, Creativity and Collaborative Innovation Task Force is also going through a listening tour with current faculty and researchers in the School of Arts and Science, the Graduate School of Arts and Science, the International Business School, the Heller School and various research center and institutes housed under Brandeis.

The Working Group on Undergraduate Research that is part of the task force that surveyed several departments and groups across campus and will speak to new student representatives on Thursday, March 7.

The Honoring Our Founding Values Task Force is working on “mapping out the future of Brandeis’ commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and racial justice, and its equally strong commitment to understanding and articulating its history and roots in the Jewish community,” according to the email.

Two working groups within the task force are guiding initiatives. The Working Group on Equal Opportunity, Social Impact and Community Engagement is determining what steps the university must take to “uphold its historical identity, values and commitments while reimagining these ideas for the coming decades.”

The Working Group on Jewish Scholarship, Leadership and Service is looking at different models that can increase coordination and collaboration among scholars who study and teach on different areas of contemporary Jewish life.

Liebowitz hopes that through collaboration, scholars and students will gain a greater understanding of “the complexities and dynamism of Jewish culture, including the values upon which our institution was founded,” according to the email.

Liebowitz urges students and members of the Brandeis community to submit questions and ideas to the task force and engage with the steering committee about how to better improve the university.

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