Campus Power Couples
As Brandeis University students well know, Louis D. Brandeis’ career achievements were groundbreaking and revolutionary — but many may be unaware of the achievements of Alice Goldmark Brandeis, Louis Brandeis’ wife. According to the Jewish Women’s Archive, Alice Brandeis was an outspoken advocate for progressive movements and dedicated her time to causes she was passionate about. Alice Brandeis supported third-party presidential candidate Robert La Follette, whose progressive politics advocated against war and in favor of small business and civil rights. Alice Brandeis also garnered controversy for her outspoken criticism of what she perceived as the U.S.’s lack of effort in helping the Jewish cause during World War II.
Louis and Alice Brandeis were intellectual equals. Alice Brandeis was a key adviser to her husband — many believe she had a large influence on his promotion of progressive causes — and the two pushed each other in their beliefs and politics. Today, the Brandeis campus is filled with working couples, each outstanding in their own right. Though Louis and Alice may have been the first, they certainly weren’t the last Brandeis “Power Couple.”
Yu and Yu
By Leigh Salomon
“We didn’t have Valentine’s Day in Taiwan!” Yen Yu remarked humorously when asked to share about her life with her husband, Charlie Yu, in an interview with the Justice.
If you frequent Sherman dining hall between the hours of seven and two, chances are you know the Yus. Yen Yu always greets students with a warm smile and wants to know how they are doing, while Charlie Yu hangs behind-the-scenes cooking food. They have dedicated the last 24 years to making Brandeis Dining Services a happy experience for everyone, but the story of their love starts much earlier.
Yen Yu and Charlie Yu grew up in Taiwan. “It was a long time ago. I was in junior high school,” Yen recalled of meeting Charlie for the first time. “I had to ride a bicycle to go to school every day with my two friends. So, every time when we, you know, passed their house — the boys’ house — they’re all sitting there watching us.”
Eventually, the boys worked up the courage to introduce themselves to Yen Yu and her friends. After that, Yen Yu’s group would drop by the boys’ house every day after school, all of them becoming friends.Six years passed by — Yen still rode her bicycle, but this time it was an hour to her job instead of to school. As each work day drew to a close, Charlie was there, waiting to take her home. “Every single day, he’d ride his bicycle an hour to wait for me and take me home — for so many years. … He’s the kind of man that’s not sweet talking — [he] just [uses his] actions.”
Not too long after, they were married and had a son and daughter. Their son moved to Hong Kong six years ago to be the director of a management company, and their daughter is an artist living in Tennessee. Yen Yu and Charlie Yu assured that their kids call quite often — every week, in fact.
Job opportunity brought Charlie Yu to America first, followed soon after by his wife and children. “My brother-in-law had a restaurant in America, [and] my husband had been working there for so long before I came, because he wanted to help his brother.” After Yen Yu’s brother-in-law retired, Yen Yu found work at Brandeis, where Charlie later joined her.When not at work, Yen Yu enjoys crafting, origami, sewing and cooking. She also likes to create flower arrangements. Charlie Yu grows a variety of flowers for Yen Yu in their backyard as well as numerous fruits and vegetables that reduce their grocery spending during the summer. “[In the] summertime, we go fishing all the time, almost every week. We went to Cape Cod [many times].” They plan to take the whole family fishing when they visit this summer.
Reflecting on what love means to them, Yen Yu has realized that “you love someone even if you don’t agree with them, you know? Nobody is perfect, right? So, even if [you] make a mistake or something, [you] let [it] go. If you want to fight, it never ends. So, sometimes, if [you] get angry, you just keep your mouth shut.” Charlie Yu has thought about returning to Taiwan in the future, but they admit it will depend on where their son lives. As Yen Yu put it, “If my son is [coming] back here, maybe we’ll stay here. Too soon to say.”
Yen and Charlie Yu have been happily married for nearly 48 years.
Katz and Mitchell
By Leah Leybzon
“We did a lot of drinking together.” Prof. Donald Katz (NBIO) and Prof. Teresa Mitchell (PSYC) could not remember exactly where their first date was, but Katz was able to recall the drinking the two did together. The two met on the first day of graduate school at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. They found themselves in a group of graduate students who were all meeting each other for the first time. From that day forward, they were, according to Mitchell, “together all day every day” because they shared the same office.
While neither is exactly sure when they became romantically involved, the two were initially very good friends. Later, when Mitchell “told Don that he was probably it, he looked like a deer in the headlights.” After an eight-year dating period, the two wed and became the dynamic couple that Brandeis students and faculty know them as now.
With some laughter, Katz asserted that Mitchell was “interested in [him] because of [his] statistics skills” since both of them took the same graduate-level statistics course. Mitchell, on the other hand, recalled how Katz annoyed her during the class even though she needed to pay attention and learn the course material. Despite that, there are many things Mitchell admires about her husband. Mitchell claimed that Katz is a fairly skilled golf player, though he would never admit to being one. Katz, in turn, complimented Mitchell’s baking skills. Both professors agreed that one of their most memorable moments as a couple was flying to get their adopted son. They also fondly recalled scuba diving and taking other trips together.
When it came to discussing the Brandeis community, the two gushed about what they love most about the campus and its students. Katz said that Brandeis is both a tiny teaching college as well as a top-notch research university where the “students are super serious about what they’re learning.”
Before he arrived at Brandeis, Katz worked at Duke University, and when he “got the job at Brandeis, all of these big, famous professors at Duke expressed how jealous they were” that he would get to spend what has now become over fifteen years here. Mitchell, on the other hand, noted that, on a personal level, “everybody seems to be interested in taking care of each other.” That, to her, is what makes Brandeis a special community.
In terms of working on the same campus, both agree that it has its perks. “Don brings me coffee sometimes,” Mitchell said. Both are admittedly very busy throughout the day and do not have too much time to spend with one another, but Katz said that it is still nice to be so close. Mitchell used to work in Worcester, MA, so the two had far less time to see one another. They both agree that the proximity definitely does not hurt. But what is the best part about working on the same campus? Katz believes it is just “nice to eat dinner in her office and say hi” when both of them have the chance.