This weekend Brandeis celebrated its 75th anniversary across campus, inviting family and alumni alike to attend. The schedule boasted more than 70 unique panels, lectures, class reunions, and activities that began on Oct. 13 and concluded on Oct 15. 

Of the more than three thousand that registered for events this weekend, there was a healthy mixture of families and alumni. These events provided opportunities to discover or rediscover campus in a new light. Even for some who live locally and have returned to campus before, it didn’t feel the same. “[I feel] a little bit like I'm a stranger; I mean, this whole building here — the Shapiro Campus Center — this wasn't here when I was here,” Dave Sherman ’81 said in an Oct. 13 interview with the Justice. Sherman currently lives a few minutes away in Needham, Massachusetts. He explained that while he has occasionally returned to campus in the past, he was interested in attending some of the scheduled events and connecting with old classmates he lost touch with over the years.

Other alumni traveled from far away with a plan of who specifically they were going to see. Stan Goldberg ’68 from Houston, Texas and Richard Tolin ‘68 from New Jersey first met one another during their first year attending the University. They were living on the same floor of the Shapiro Residence Hall. 58 years later, the two remain friends. “I'm happy to be here because I'm meeting my friends. I've seen the campus a few times over the years, and it's pleasant to be back. But mostly it's to see my friends. I saw Stan a few months ago but the others I haven't seen in a few years,” Tolin said, sitting beside Goldberg. During their 25th reunion they began emailing and connecting with eight other alumni from their graduating class. Over the course of the weekend, they connected with the other eight in their group of friends and hoped to connect with others from the class of 1968. Though the campus is not nearly the same as it was when the two graduated, they were still able to share a laugh and reflect upon memories such as Goldberg falling into the Massell Quad pond while chasing a football. 

“Alums come back and don't get to interact with current students and they regret that. They love seeing their classmates. That's why they come back. But I think this is an incredible opportunity for students to talk to, and alumni to talk to one another. And I think it's going to be interesting because this generation is very different from the earlier generations,” Liebowitz said during his Oct. 12 interview with the Justice and the Hoot.

The events appealed to a diverse range of interests, including family bingo, a Brandeis soccer game, and a student performance showcase, as well as more than 30 distinct alumni reunion events. For many events, there was a large emphasis on academia, such as “Brandeis Women Who Changed the World,” a talk with Brandeis Prof. Anita Hill (WGS) and Prof. Emerita Joyce Antler ‘63. Another featured talk was “Groundbreakers, Game Changers, and Education,” a conversation with leading Brandeis science Profs. Dorothee Kern (BCHM), Michael Rosbash (BIOL), Eve Marder ’69 (BIOL), Gina Turrigiano (BIOL), and James Haber (BIOL) about their research on campus. Members of the panel were past recipients of prestigious awards such as Rosbash, who received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, and Turrigiano, who received the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant. “I think the panels really do reflect the intellectual breadth, and also the interests of our students and our faculty,” President Liebowitz said.

The University gave out several awards this weekend including the Perlmutter Award for Excellence in Global Business Leadership and Reception to the Chief Executive Officer of the investment management firm Wellington Management, Jean Hynes. 

The BNC Sachar Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in education, was given to broadcast journalist Judy Woodruff. “It's an incredible honor to have been invited to come to receive this award. In the name of your first president, who was an extraordinary educator, and extraordinary mentor,” Woodruff said in an Oct. 14 interview with the Justice. Prior to a dinner where Woodruff officially received the award, she spoke on a panel organized by the Journalism department with Profs. Neil Swidey (JOUR) and Ann Silvio (JOUR). Throughout the talk, Woodruff addressed issues such as partisanship in politics and the media, the traits of a good politician, and advised that if students took one anecdote away from her talk, it is to go into journalism. “The American people are always going to need information,” she said.

“To be here on this weekend, the 75th anniversary of this extraordinary school that came together in the aftermath of what happened in World War II and the Holocaust is a privilege,” Woodruff expressed. “And then the sobering reminder that I'm here on the weekend after terrible, terrible, unthinkable events in Israel is a reminder to me that we can never take for granted what we have as human beings and we can never assume that humans will treat each other with respect. And as equals. We still have a lot of work to do as human beings.”

While the diamond jubilee was a celebration of what has been accomplished in the last 75 years at Brandeis, the weekend had a somber tone given the recent attacks in Israel. “I think it's inevitable that it would make it a little more solemn — more of a commemoration than a celebration. But I do think that the milestones and what the institution has achieved need to be celebrated and commemorated because it is quite remarkable what this institution has done over 75 years,” Liebowitz told the Justice. 

On Oct. 11, Liebowitz sent an email to the Brandeis community detailing how the events for the 75th anniversary would continue as planned, but there would be some changes in order to reflect “the ongoing war in Israel.” Many events acknowledged the war in some form, such as the Sunday memorial service that commemorated deaths from the war in addition to Brandeis community members who passed away. 

The University also added security from local and state police to ensure campus security — some of which had canine detection units that patrolled the campus and classrooms after events. Additionally, signs near a larger white tent set up for this weekend on the great lawn stated “Large bags/backpacks may be subject to search. No banners or signs allowed.” There were no major security incidents that occurred during the events.

As Brandeis begins to move past its 75th anniversary, a young age compared to many other top-ranked universities in the U.S., many have hopes for what the University will look like approaching its centennial celebration. “I hope that we're able to hold on to what is great about Brandeis — its ethos, its willingness to innovate, its willingness to be different,” Liebowitz said. He emphasized that he hopes students going forward will be cognizant of the needs of future generations.

— Editor's Note: Special thanks to Hoot Editor-in-Chief Cooper Gottfried ’25 for his contributions to the interview with President Liebowitz.