This past October, University President Ron Liebowitz announced his “Framework for the Future,” a multipronged plan to revitalize and focus the University. Per the Framework’s website, Liebowitz hopes to “reimagine the future of [the] institution” and strengthen three “essential pillars of our university.” On Jan. 28, Liebowitz provided the Brandeis community with an emailed update on the Framework’s process, leaders and themes. In it, he described four separate task forces, each focusing on a different aspect of his vision for Brandeis while remaining in “constant consultation and dialogue.” 

The Task Force on the Student Living/Learning Experience is investigating how to offer students “a greater sense of home and belonging” at Brandeis, according to the same email. This task force is divided into five working groups: Residential Life, Undergraduate Academic Advising, Community Engagement, Graduate Academic Advising and Graduate Student Life. Co-chaired by Kim Gocho, the associate provost for Academic Affairs, and Prof. Sara Shotask (SOC), the task force will present its report by “mid-spring 2019,” per the Framework’s website. To create a list of recommendations for creating a more “vibrant, inclusive, and engaged” residence experience, the task force is analyzing data and examining the resources available for both undergraduate and graduate students, according to the same website.

The Task Force on Supporting Research, Creativity, and Collaborative Innovation will also present recommendations based on its findings this spring. This task force is investigating funding sources for research and innovation, and will look for solutions to “infrastructur[al] and organization[al]” challenges to research at Brandeis. It will also examine ways for students, graduate students and faculty to collaborate on innovation. On the Framework’s website, sample questions for the task force to consider include how to better integrate independent institutes into the University, how to provide more high-quality research opportunities for undergraduates and how to fund newer and larger research projects. This task force is co-chaired by Prof. Sacha Nelson (NBIO), the Gyula and Tauber Professor of Life Science and Prof. Constance Horgan (Heller), director of the Institute for Behavioral Health.

The Task Force on Honoring Our Founding Values is chaired by Liebowitz himself and is divided into two working groups. The group on Jewish Scholarship, Leadership and Service, chaired by Prof. Jon Levisohn (NEJS), is in charge of figuring out how Brandeis can identify as a “fully secular institution” while still “ensuring that Jews of all movements can thrive,” per the website. 

The working group on Equal Opportunity, Social Impact, and Community Engagement is chaired by Prof. Chad Williams (AAAS) and is tasked with renewing Brandeis’ “culture of openness” across campus and in the classroom and with understanding the University’s “commitment to openness, inclusiveness, and justice,” the same website adds. Together, the two working groups must learn how to “weave together” these two sets of values.

In his email, Liebowitz also announced that a fourth task force on infrastructure will be launching this spring, and that it will bear in mind the issues raised at the recent Accessibility Forum. Further forums focusing on “services for students, faculty, and staff with disabilities” will be held throughout the semester, Liebowitz added.