We, the undersigned Brandeis faculty and staff, write on the occasion of Brandeis’ commencement to offer our sincere congratulations to the graduating class who worked incredibly hard under historically challenging circumstances, including a pandemic, to get to this point. We also use this occasion to register our dismay about the university’s leadership under Ron Liebowitz and our disappointment at the path he has put our university on–from inviting police and private security on campus to suppression of student protests, to limiting free speech, tolerating racist, sexist, and retaliatory behavior by his staff, to the ruinous financial situation in which Brandeis now finds itself. 

We write this letter at a time that should have been solely devoted to celebrating the class of 2024 because we are inspired by students at Brandeis and beyond who, at great personal cost, have stood up for justice, a word that used to mean something at Brandeis. Since October 7, around 1200 Israelis have been killed by Hamas, almost 35,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s relentless bombing of Gaza, and over 100 hostages abducted from Israel have yet to be released. Millions of Gazans are at risk of famine and 390 educational institutions have been destroyed (including every single university in Gaza). In response, university students have become the leaders of a movement that seeks peace and decries deadly military assaults against helpless civilian populations no matter their ethnicity or religion.

Across the country, student protests continue to be met with violent police responses and rushed disciplinary processes. Sadly, the same is true for Brandeis. President Liebowitz’s decision to call Waltham police on students during the November 10th demonstrations set a precedent that has been shamefully echoed on other campuses nationwide. His intolerant response to peaceful student protest has betrayed Brandeis’s core values of social justice, truth, diversity, inclusiveness, and community. He has consistently refused to implement motions passed with overwhelming support among the faculty calling for a thorough and independent investigation into the events of November 10th and for Brandeis to commit to not taking disciplinary action or support legal action against the arrested students. Instead, he has rushed to start disciplinary processes against students and wasted university resources on hiring external consultants. Despite impassioned pleas by the Brandeis community for the administration to drop charges and disciplinary measures and to begin to heal our campus, President Liebowitz and the administration have shown more interest in punishment than healing.    

In an email sent to the Brandeis community on April 22, 2024, President Liebowitz grossly mischaracterized protests by non-Jewish and Jewish students at other university campuses as antisemitic. Our campus is and should be a place where Jewish students feel safe. But Liebowitz has weaponized the idea of Jewish students’ safety to make everyone more unsafe. Arab, Muslim, and Palestinian students and other students of color at Brandeis have reported unprecedented levels of violence and hostility on campus with hardly any response from the administration. And Jewish students who do not support current Israeli government policies have said they feel betrayed and fearful of what is being done in their name. We categorically reject the false and divisive rhetoric he uses to describe our university, as if the safety of Jewish students could only come at the expense of the well-being of others through the suppression of political speech. The Brandeis we know is a place where all students thrive, where students challenge and learn from each other, and all forms of discrimination are unacceptable. 

This culture of fear and suppression is not new, as was evidenced in the 2023 case that held Brandeis University liable for engaging in racist, sexist, and retaliatory behavior towards Robin Nelson-Bailey (awarding her $2.6 million). It was also clear in the March 2024 reinstatement of Carol Simon, the women’s basketball coach, despite the Office of Equal Opportunity having found her in violation of Brandeis’s standards by making racist comments towards Black athletes and other abusive behavior. News of Simon's retirement arrived only after the majority of the team stated that they would refuse to play under her. That solidarity and collective action in the face of injustice is the Brandeis we know and love.

These issues of campus safety, free speech, and inclusion come at a time when the university is facing significant financial challenges. President Liebowitz is responsible for Brandeis’s $2 million deficit in the coming fiscal year. Rather than provide faculty, students, and staff with transparency about the causes of the crisis and our path forward, he has evaded our questions and concerns about proposed cuts and placed blame on everyone but himself. 

We would like to end by addressing our graduating seniors directly: 

Even though it often feels like our voices do not matter, as you know already, social justice is a long battle and the rewards are sometimes not immediate. We commit to continuing to fight for you, for all Brandeis students, for democracy, academic freedom, and social justice – real social justice, not just a fundraising slogan – and for “truth even unto its innermost parts.” That truth-seeking is built into our institution and must not be abandoned no matter the obstacles in its way.

As a Brandeis graduate, you are part of a longer legacy than this last year. You are joining a celebrated tradition of Brandeis alums who protested the Vietnam War, who set up encampments to demand divestment from South Africa, who occupied Ford Hall for justice for Black students and a department of  African American Studies, who marched for an end to gender-based violence. This is a history of social justice, of radical critique, and of Jewish and non-Jewish solidarity that no one can take away from you.

With our best wishes for strength and spirit, wherever the future takes you,

If you are a faculty or staff member who would like to sign this letter, you may do so by clicking the link below. (Due to the history of retaliatory behavior by the Brandeis administration, we have allowed for anonymous but verified signatories.)


Amith Zafal Abdulla, Staff

Amy AbuShanab, Staff

Emily Paradise Achtenberg, Alumna 1965

Susannah Adel , Alumna

Casey Andrews, Faculty

Ulka Anjaria, Faculty

Jonathan Shapiro Anjaria, Faculty

Rabia Anjum, PhD Graduate Class of 2024

Paul Anskat, Faculty

Silvia Arrom, Faculty

Alexandria Ashley, Alum

Katie Ball, Staff

Anne Bernstein, Alumna

Julia Birnbaum, Staff

Bernadette J. Brooten, Faculty

Mary Baine Campbell, Faculty

Kristina Cherniahivsky, Staff

Emilie Connolly, Faculty

Joe Cunningham, Emeritus

Charlie Fisher, Professor Emeritus

Laura Foner, Alumna

Dian Fox, Professor Emerita

Gregory L. Freeze, Faculty

ChaeRan Yoo Freeze, Faculty

Richard Gaskins, Professor Emeritus 

Bradford Garvey, Faculty

Allison Giannotti, Faculty

Kim Godsoe, Alumna

Barbara Jacobs Haber, Alumna, 1960

Jane Hale, Emerita

Karen V. Hansen, Faculty

Matthew Headrick, Faculty

Brian A. Horton, Faculty

Mary Hurd, Staff and Graduate Student

Ray Jackendoff , Emeritus

Patricia A. Johnston, Faculty

Nina (Cornelia) Kammerer, Faculty

Susan Kaufman, Alumna class of '66

Alice Arshalooys Kelikian, Faculty

Sanaullah Khan, Faculty

Dorothy Kim, Faculty

Thomas King, Faculty

Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow, Faculty Emerita

Robert Lange, Emeritus Faculty

Susan S. Lanser, Faculty

Cathy Lauinger, Staff

Keridwen N Luis, Faculty

Sarah Lupis, Faculty

James Mandrell, Faculty

Sarah Mayorga, Faculty

Pascal Menoret, Faculty

Paul Monsky, Emeritus Professor

Paul Morrison, Faculty

A.J. Murphy, Faculty

Steven Ostrow, Former faculty

Wendy Peverill-Conti, Staff

John Plotz, Faculty

David Powelstock, Faculty

Ramyar Rossoukh, Staff

Bessie Rubinstein, Staff

Allison Scharmann, Staff

David Sherman, Faculty

Doug Smith, Faculty

Faith Smith, Faculty

Naghmeh Sohrabi, Faculty

Govind Sreenivasan, Faculty

Ibrahim K Sundiata

Ilana Szobel, Faculty

Gowri Vijayakumar, Faculty

Cheryl L Walker, Emerita

Stephen Wangh, Alumnus, '64

John Wardle, Professor Emeritus

Lena Webb, Staff

Allison Yarri, Staff

+ 60 anonymous signatories (30 faculty, 30 staff)