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Univ. shared Board of Trustees Report

University president Ron Liebowitz sent an email to community members with updates from the April Board of Trustees meeting. Liebowitz updated the community on multiple initiatives the Board of Trustees has undertaken. 

The Board elected Lisa Kranc ’75 to a three-year term position on the Board, serving as a chair. Kranc held this position as interim chair since May 2021, and will be the first woman to hold this position, according to the email. The Board also inducted another member Dan Rueven ’09, according to Liebowita, Rueven has a “deep engagement to his alma mater” and he will bring “expertise in the fields of environmental sustainability and green investment.”

The Board of Trustees also analyzed the budget for the 2023 fiscal year. In the budget they included a proposal to “leverage the university’s debt capacity to address Brandeis’ core needs and priorities, notably the construction of Science Phase 2A.” The first phase of the science complex began in the 2000’s with the building of the Shapiro Science Center (SSC) but the university did not continue building after the recession in 2008. The budget was approved by the Board members and includes a $150 million in tax-exempt debt which can be used to fund the projects involved in the Science 2A plan along with other “critical” capital projects. 

“This vote marks a formative step toward realizing Brandeis’ vision for investing in the physical infrastructure that supports the quality of the university’s interdisciplinary research in the sciences. Planning and preparations for the building are underway, with a targeted date for the groundbreaking occurring early to mid-2024,” wrote Liebowitz to community members. 

During the meeting, Board members went into executive session where they listened to a presentation from Carol Fierke—Provost—and Stew Uretsky—Executive Vice President—where they showed initiative they proposed, “to define, measure, and pursue the most critical priorities for the long-term success of Brandeis.” After their presentation, Liebowitz showed the board an update on the progress of the conversations regarding the contemporizing of the university’s Jewish identity and founding values. Liebowitz had these conversations with multiple groups of community members throughout the course of this semester. The idea was originally brought to the Board by Liebowitz in October 2021, according to the email. 

“I also spoke about some of the ways by which the university is strengthening its commitment to these values, including Brandeis’ Initiative on Antisemitism, which will launch with a concert at Slosberg Recital Hall by acclaimed pianist Boris Berman on May 7,” Liebowitz explained in the email. 

Later in the meeting, Liebowitz updated the Board on his plans to “strengthen the university’s relationship with the Waltham community.” In his plans to strengthen ties with the community Liebowitz shared the initiative he is planning for the university’s 75th anniversary. According to Liebowitz, the celebration is still in the planning stages but is intended to incorporate, “ a variety of communications, events, activities, seminars and installations that will engage all members of the Brandeis community, including alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents and friends and members of the Waltham community,” wrote Liebowitz. 

The Board of Trustees also approved amendments proposed to the bylaws regarding continued faculty and student involvement on the Board. The proposed amendments, “reflect the best practices recommended following our governance review led by outside experts,” wrote Liebowitz. From this review, the major goal was to enhance communications between stakeholders and maximize effectiveness of decision making made by the Board.

Tenure and promotions were granted to the following faculty members including: Charles Golden (ANTH), Alice Hsiaw (IBS), Alexander Kaye (NEJS), Jean-Paul L’Huillier (ECON), Siri Suh (SOC), Benjamin R. Shiller (ECON), Brian Swingle (PHYS) and Ilana Szobel (NEJS). 

The board committees also gave highlights of what they have been doing. The Academy Committee members heard a presentation from Dean Dorthy Hodgson regarding various initiatives including:  anti-racist plans, programming and infrastructure. The plans are intended to support faculty of color through efforts to increase “inclusion and belonging.” The committee also voted to discontinue the one-year masters program in musicology. 

The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee heard presentations regarding programs hosted during DEIS Impact from Julian Cancino—Director of the Gender and Sexuality Center and Habiba Braimah—Director of the Intercultural Center (ICC).  

The Institutional Advancement Committee received updates on the progress in fundraising from the 2022 fiscal year. According to the email, “fundraising continues at a promising pace, with new gifts and pledges, cash revenues, and unrestricted operating cash totals all significantly ahead compared to last year.” The committee also discussed an update to the campaign planning work. 

The Nominating and Governance Committee discussed altering the process currently in place to recruit new members to the trustees. The refinement would be used to identify gaps in the Board membership and how best to recruit. 

The Resources Committee approved the budget proposed for the 2023 fiscal year. The Risk Management and Audit Committee, “reviewed and approved the IRS Form 990, the annual tax filing that most tax-exempt organizations must file that gives the IRS an overview of the university’s activities, governance, and detailed financial information,” according to the email. 

The Student Life Committee received updates from multiple groups on campus including the Hiatt Career Center, the Brandeis Counseling Center (BCC) and the Division of Student Affairs.  

The board of Trustees meeting was held virtually on April 11 and 12, according to the email.

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