Lawrence reports to uneasy faculty
The faculty convened last Thursday to discuss several current issues of contention, including the state of the University's relationship with Al-Quds University and the topic of executive compensation.
University President Frederick Lawrence began the faculty meeting with updates on the Board of Trustees. He reported that the board, which will be meeting this week, will address executive compensation policies through a committee chaired by trustees and alumni.
In November, the Boston Globe published an article concerning the retention of President Emeritus Jehuda Reinharz, whose compensation, which consisted of more than $600,000 for the 2011 fiscal year, was called into question. Brandeis faculty, current students and alumni were shocked at the disclosure and started a petition demanding the reform of compensation practices for the University. Proposals are to be presented to the board, all of which are aimed toward increasing transparency.
Lawrence expressed confidence in the committee from his own "experience of being in on some of those meetings" as well as the feedback he has received from the Board of Trustees.
Lawrence further reported that budget models-the current as well as the projected-show that the University is "well ahead of the target" in regard to reducing the deficit, which consists of more than $6.5 million. The deficit, according to the models, will be eliminated in the 2015 to 2016 fiscal year. Additionally, he announced that the Board of Trustees will begin planning this year's capital campaigns at their meeting. These campaigns will be primarily focused on raising funds for the purpose of building endowments that would provide financial aid to students, said Lawrence.
At a Nov. 7 faculty meeting, Provost Steve Goldstein '78 announced that the "quiet phase" of a capital campaign would begin in January.
At Thursday's meeting, Goldstein took the podium after Lawrence to identify several members of the faculty who had achieved recognition in the coming new year for their work, including Prof. Thomas Doherty (AMST) whose book, Hollywood and Hitler, 1933-1939, earned positive reviews from the New York Times, Profs. Alfredo Gisholt (FA) and Joseph Wardwell (FA), whose works are to be exhibited in New York City-Gisholt's at the CUE Art Foundation in February while Wardwell's mural entitled "Chose Not To" is currently on display on 73 East Houston Street-and Prof. Jonathan Sarna (NEJS), who was elected president of the Association for Jewish Studies.
Goldstein went on to report that the ongoing construction projects on campus started this summer were delayed by two weeks due to the recent weather. Goldstein said that the construction is expected to catch up to the timetable in a week. The provost also noted that the campus will see other construction projects during the next three years in efforts to continue renovation of the University, which included the remodeling of East Quad this past summer as well as the previous projects of the Mandel Center for the Humanities building, Massell Quad and other buildings.
Lawrence then addressed the suspension of the partnership between Al-Quds University and Brandeis University. The partnership, which was suspended on Nov. 18, has existed for the past decade, but was strained when students organized a demonstration that allegedly consisted of participants donning black military uniforms and making Nazi-like gestures that took place on the university's main campus on Nov. 5.
Despite Lawrence's decision to suspend the relationship, he has attempted to keep "open lines of communication" between the two universities, he stated at the faculty meeting. Daniel Terris, the director of the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life, and Profs. Susan Lanser (ENG) and Daniel Kryder (POL) were sent to Al-Quds after the demonstrations took place to further investigate the situation, although their trip had been scheduled prior to the demonstrations. Terris took the podium and reported that he and the other committee members found that it was generally agreed at Al-Quds that the rally "violated [Al-Quds'] principles and policies" after extensive conversations with senior administrators, key faculty members and students.
The faculty at Al-Quds, especially those who were involved in the joint projects with Brandeis, wish to resume the partnership and go on with previously planned projects, which were to be collaborations between Brandeis faculty and their own faculty, Terris said.
When the floor opened for questions and comments, Prof. Jacob Cohen (AMST) brought up some inconsistencies he observed from the Al-Quds website including the idea that the university believed that there is no Judaic claim on Jerusalem.
The article he mentions discusses a partnership of Israeli and Palestinian experts on the Esplanade of the Mosques, also known as the "Temple Mount," which is a site of contention as it is both sacred to Judaic as well as Islamic beliefs. Cohen, though, specifically referred to the note that "The lack of archaeological evidence of the ancient temples [of Solomon and Jerusalem] has led many Palestinians to deny any real Jewish attachment or claim to the plateau."
The majority of the faculty, however, expressed an endorsement of Lawrence's commitment to open communications and the committee's work. Prof. Marya Levenson '64 (ED) noted that, in her experience, to such political misunderstandings such as the demonstration as well as the political debates concerning Jerusalem, the proper response "is not to end a partnership, but to strengthen it." Prof. Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow (CLAS) further added that "dialogue is the thing we need on hard and painful and difficult" examination of these conflicts.
Editor's Note: The online version of this article has been updated to properly describe the nature of partnerships between Brandeis and Al-Quds faculty. They are collaborations, not corroborations.