A center that will “strengthen civic and community engagement” is coming to Brandeis after the university received a $10 million donation, according to an email from President Ron Liebowitz on Jan. 4.
The main goal of the Samuels Center, according to the alumni article, will be to prepare students for engaging “ethically and responsibly” with communities after they leave Brandeis. The article also mentions that the Samuels Center will also help support research conducted by both students and faculty—with current projects including prison outreach and education, supporting people with disabilities, legal aid clinics, climate justice, domestic violence and mobilizing women’s groups in rural areas overseas—as well as support the novel Community Engaged Scholars Program (CESP).
“Expected to launch in fall 2022, CESP integrates the extracurricular student experience—such as service work that students may participate in through the Department of Community Service and Student Affairs—and academics, so that students may draw critical connections between their social justice commitments and their studies,” reads the article. The article also states that the Samuels Center will provide stipends so that students can access engagement activities regardless of financial status.
In his email, Liebowitz wrote, “We anticipate that involvement with the center will provide our students with important lessons about life, particularly from working in communities whose life experiences are different from their own.”
He highlighted that Waltham Group, a service-based club on campus, will benefit from these new resources, and use that to further their community engagement. Liebowitz wrote that their hopes for the center include that it will be able to expand the civic community on campus, in Waltham and in the Greater Boston area.
The center will also serve as a part of the university’s mission in the Framework for the Future initiative. The Framework for the Future is a report which compiles recommendations and guidelines which create a framework for the future of the university, according to the university’s page. The center will be a part of the ethos which the university was founded on and will continue to pursue in its future, according to Liebowitz’s email.
“During planning that led to the Framework, we identified that need for a unifying structure that would build upon and further our institution’s strong culture of community engagement. With this new center, we will be well-positioned to realize our goal by combining the very best of Brandeis’ cutting-edge research, scholarship and creative work as each relates to volunteer service,” wrote Liebowitz.
The donation was made by Bobbi Samuels ’63 and the Samuels Family Foundation—an organization founded in 2015 with the principle of repairing the world, according to their webpage. The foundation supports programs that educate children and help children in need, according to their page. It also works to support programs that support social justice.
The donation was made in the honor of Victor “Vic” Samuels ’63 who passed away in 2020, according to an article on the Brandeis Alumni website. The new center will be called the Vic and Bobbi ’63 Samuels Center for Community Partnerships and Civic Transformation. It will be accessible to many campus groups, according to Liebowitz’s email, including Waltham Group, a collective of student-run volunteer groups on campus, according to their page.
Liebowitz expressed gratitude for the donation, saying, “We are grateful to the Samuels family, and we will use their generosity as a tool to shape our communities – and our world – for the better, and illuminate Vic’s legacy for generations to come. We look forward to sharing more about the center as it continues to take shape.”
A timeline for the Samuels Center construction has not been announced at the time of publication.