Board of Trustees discusses ongoing coronavirus pandemic, univ. initiatives

February 12, 2021

The university is expected to maintain a balanced budget during the 2021 fiscal year (FY21) “due in large measure to the sacrifices and contributions of members of our community,” despite the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report on the FY21 operating budget forecast presented to the Resources Committee at the Board of Trustees January meeting, according to an email sent out by President Ron Liebowitz. 

The committee also discussed plans for a new science complex building project, which “will provide Brandeis with more space for research labs, project labs, and learning spaces in the sciences,” the report wrote. 

The university finalized the creation of a Public Health Advisory Committee that will “provide high-level strategic guidance and recommendations on all university public health decisions and strategies related to COVID-19,” according to the email. Several doctors, epidemiologists and public health experts are a part of the committee, which is being chaired by Carol Fierke Ph.D.’84, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, Stewart Uretsky, executive vice president for finance and administration and Raymond Lu-Ming Ou, vice president for student affairs.

The newly formed Student Life Committee discussed the committee’s priorities for the coming months, including the Hiatt Career Center, student mental health, student life programming, community living and graduate student affairs, according to the email. Jon Schlesinger, the interim director of Hiatt, presented the steps that Hiatt is taking “to improve operations, including formalizing a new employer relations strategy and outreach to students and clubs to provide internship and job information,” the email writes.

Sonali Anderson ’22, one of two undergraduate representatives on the Board of Trustees, Twama “Pheora” Nambili GRAD and DeBorah Ault ’22 also shared student life updates with the Student Life Committee.

The Institutional Advancement Committee discussed the creation of a new fundraising campaign working group “which will be charged with making recommendations for future campaign goals and timeline, provide feedback for campaign messaging, shape the campaign menu of giving opportunities, and advise on fundraising strategies,” according to the email. The committee will also be reviewing the progress on “One Brandeis,” the current Alumni Relations strategic plan. 

The Academy Committee received a report on the spring 2021 semester, which included how the academy is working to “to innovate and adapt to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the email. 

Katy Graddy, Dorothy Hodgson and David Weil, deans of the Brandeis International Business School, School of Arts and Science and Heller School for Social Policy and Management, respectively, presented to the Academy Committee about opportunities and challenges for faculty recruitment and retention, which includes the high cost of living in the greater Boston area. 

Jim La Creta, chief information officer, and David Albrecht, chief information security officer, updated the Risk Management and Audit Committee on updates to the information technology infrastructure, which includes “efforts to enhance cybersecurity measures and cellular coverage across campus, security camera installations, and Workday Student implementation,” according to the email. 

The Board promoted Professor Joel Christensen ’01, MA’01 (CLASS/COML) to professor with tenure in the Department of Classical Studies, while Professor Sarah Mayorga (SOC) was appointed associate professor with tenure, according to the email. 

The senior administration, along with the Board of Trustees, are planning to host a series of community check-ins with the Brandeis community about spring operations and the future plans of the university due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

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