The second annual Finance and Administration Town Hall Meeting reflected President Ron Liebowitz’s campus address, “A Framework for our Future,” the day before. The event was held in the Usdan International Lounge on Tuesday, Oct. 30th.
The three main components of Executive Vice President of Admin and Finance Stewart Uretsky’s report were Financial Sustainability, Staff Engagement and Campus Modernization. He detailed a list of top ten goals, including creating a framework for horizontal connectivity and finding funding for deferred maintenance, both of which echoed Liebowitz’s remarks on the subject.
After Uretsky, Jim Gray, vice president for campus operations, presented three points regarding the physical state of the campus operations. Brandeis exceeded its goal of 10 percent carbon reduction by 2.5 percent, bringing total reductions since fiscal year 2015 to 12.5 percent. Gray said that it was a “meaningful step forward for the Brandeis campus, a truly inclusive effort.” He added, “Fifteen percent is not the end of this path, it is the beginning.”
Campus Safety was next, with Gray relating new initiatives being put into practice. Over the summer, a major audit was held analyzing the state of emergency and safety preparedness. There was “a wealth of new ideas for ways that we can improve campus safety at Brandeis,” Gray said. Chief priorities were the creation of a Campus Safety Committee, which would be comprised of a diverse group of persons who will meet twice a year to discuss best practices in campus safety.
Gray discussed implementing surveillance cameras over entrances and exits to student residential buildings. “Our video surveillance probably predates the iPhone a decade or two,” he said. He also mentioned that they had hired a first director of emergency preparedness and management.
“Third is the condition of our campus,” said Gray. He cited a recent Sightlines analysis of the state of Brandeis’ building stock and demonstrated with graphs the cost of decades of deferred maintenance. “Every generation or two you really need to do gut renovations of your buildings.” It was estimated that Brandeis had 15 percent more deferred maintenance than its peer institutions, with the total sum reflecting what needs to be spent to fix the institution’s buildings set at over $120 million. According to the report, “80 percent of Brandeis’ campus will be high risk by 2022.”
“Basically we had a good year,” he said, citing a $2 million surplus. In the last year, Brandeis’ endowment crossed the $1 billion mark. A new budget, reflecting the goal of financial sustainability, will be submitted to the Board of Trustees in April.
An Information and Technology Services presentation from Chief Information Officer Jim La Creta detailed the planned Workday update, to be implemented in March 2020. ITS worked to increase security in the campus’ information systems. Currently 80 percent of staff use two-factor password authentication, however, faculty use is only at 20 percent. In order to promote network security awareness, ITS will be hosting a workshop on Nov. 14.