This past Wednesday, Brandeis’ Department of Spiritual and Religious Life held the last of this semester’s Multifaith Dinners. The guest speaker was Brandeis’ Dean of Students Jamele Adams, who chose to diverge from the typical model of a 20-minute speech followed by dinner and questions in favor of holding a round table discussion in which attendees were all invited to ask him any question they wanted.  Questions ranged from “What is your favorite sport?” to “What was the most transformative moment in your life?” All of the responses from Adams were thought-provoking and intensely personal, and as a result, attendees were enraptured. The room was silent and contemplative throughout the event, yet there was an atmosphere of interest, respect and introspection. 

A common theme that Adams returned to was the concept of love, and how his aspiration to spread love has shaped his personal and spiritual journey. He discussed how he had, at times in his life, struggled with his faith, and what eventually brought him back to the spirituality he holds today. Adams was also open about his decision to come to Brandeis, revealing it was the student body that drew him in and that  he feels most passionate about. He shared a powerful anecdote: after accepting his first position at Brandeis, Adams was invited to read a poem during the annual Culture X show. His performance was met with thunderous applause, as well as students chanting “That’s our Dean!” In that moment, he said, he knew that he had made the right decision to come to Brandeis. Adams moved into a story about his first few months at Brandeis, when he, his wife, and their (at the time) two young children lived in Ziv Quad on campus. It was clear that from the beginning of his tenure at Brandeis, Adams intended to be an integral part of campus, a goal that he has very much achieved.

Brandeis students’ first interaction with the Dean is often during the orientation event This is Our House. Adams performs spoken word poetry. and the event is centered around the themes of inclusivity and community-building. Overall, the dinner promoted community, sharing, the pursuit of ambitions, dedication to loving each other and ways to navigate life while staying true to oneself. Attendees left with a much deeper understanding of who their dean of students was and what he stood for, as well as a sense of camaraderie.