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Lawrence travels to India, builds global connections

By Danielle Gross
On March 5, 2012

Continuing to expand Brandeis' international connections, University President Frederick Lawrence returned from India on Feb. 15, his second trip abroad since becoming president of the University.

Lawrence was accompanied by News Director Charlie Radin and Vice President for Global Affairs and Director of the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life Daniel Terris. This trip logically follows the visit to India less than two years ago by former University President Jehuda Reinharz, according to Radin.

In an interview with the Justice, Lawrence outlined the trip's main purposes: to engage with a number of constituencies in India—prospective students, parents of current and prospective students and alumni—and to explore possible collaborations among students and faculty at different research institutions.

Radin and Lawrence likened this trip to India to Lawrence's first overseas trip of his presidency to Israel. The purpose of both trips was "broadening scientific collaboration, increasing opportunities for our students to study abroad and for students from abroad to study at Brandeis [and] strengthening our alumni networks," according to the president's blog. Lawrence expanded on the similarities between the two trips by mentioning that India was originally thought of as a potential destination because of the efforts Reinharz had already began.

"The fact that it fits so well with Israel is not an accident. It really gives us ways to think about not only … building programs and engagements with both Israel and India, but will hopefully give a chance to triangulate all three [Brandeis, Israel, and India]," said Lawrence. Brandeis already has a strong connection to India because a large percentage of Brandeis alumni and students hail from the country.

Terris said that the group received warm welcomes in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. He also mentioned that the group exceeded its own goals and expectations for this trip. Besides expanding the Brandeis name, the University is now involved in a collaborative mission to assist in the development of an Israel Studies Center at Jindal Global University. According to BrandeisNOW, Rohee Dasgupta, executive director of Jindal's Centre for European Studies, expressed interest in creating an Israel Studies center.

Das Gupta will be participating in the two week Schusterman Center for Israel Studies' Summer Institute this summer and then will travel as part of a study tour to Israel for a week with other members of the Schusterman program.

Two Brandeis professors who were involved in this trip were already in India and joined the visiting group. Prof. Bulbul Chakraborty (PHYS) was attending a conference in India. She met up with the group to discuss scientific collaborations and connections within India. Prof. Harleen Singh (SAS) was on leave in India and also joined the group. Radin called Singh "the other star besides Lawrence" of the trip and said that she was "electric." Singh aided in moderating a forum between Lawrence and former Indian Attorney General Soli Sorabjee.

When asked about his next trip abroad, Lawrence said, "How do we choose where to expand to next? We have students from 116 different countries on this campus. We need relations with all of these places, ... but we need to focus specifically on a smaller number of countries. ... I have a received quite a few invitations, but as of now I do not know who we should be keeping up with."

Radin also expressed this idea while discussing Global Brandeis, a plan created by Lawrence and Terris. Instead of putting the Brandeis name everywhere, "[the University] can engage more deeply. Go deep rather than go broad. We are not huge and we do not want to be huge. Being small and focused is what is acceptable for us," said Radin.


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