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Lawrence meets with Israeli college president

Published: September 23, 2011
Section: News


Brandeis President Fred Lawrence and Uriel Reichman, president and founder of the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel, are collaborating efforts to establish a partnership between the two schools. The partnership, beginning specifically with the two school radio stations, marks the start of a solid friendship of two young liberal arts universities.

Wednesday, WBRS and IDC Radio held a shared broadcast from Brandeis and from Herzliya, in which student leaders had the opportunity to ask Lawrence and Reichman how they hope to learn from one another and what they see as hallmarks of a liberal arts education.

“We have to emphasize multicultural relationships,” said Reichman. “If you are to be experts in any field, you have to work globally.”

Reichman has been IDC’s president for 12 years and strives to provide IDC students with a liberal arts education, with a background in the humanities. Founded in 1994, IDC is Israel’s youngest university and looks to Brandeis as a source of inspiration.

IDC is unique because it is the first private, liberal arts university in Israel. It boasts a tremendously international student body, with more than 25 percent of its students from outside Israel.

As the broadcast commenced, Lawrence and Reichman cheerfully donned WBRS t-shirts over their button down shirts and neckties to show their support for student media and for one another’s efforts to form a partnership between Brandeis and IDC. The two presidents then took turns answering questions regarding the similarities and differences between Brandeis and IDC. Leadership proved to be the common quality Lawrence and Reichman view as most important to instill in their students. Reichman continued to address, however, that college students in Israel are under even greater pressure than college students in America are to find jobs immediately following college. “Brandeis students should feel lucky that they have undergraduate and graduate options,” Reichman said. “Our students go to the army and have already invested three years of their life before entering college, so they are older when they start studying. They are under greater pressure. This is a tremendous advantage that you have in the United States.”

Reichman explained that IDC’s goal is to give students the liberal arts education that Brandeis students receive, but in three years rather than in seven years of undergraduate and graduate studies.

As the broadcast continued, Student Union President Herbie Rosen ’12 challenged Lawrence and Reichman to consider how they might change their respective institutions to allow them to better fit the current times.

“I think the setting we are in right now—a classroom with students in two countries, with two professors—is a good model for future classrooms,” said Lawrence. Referring to the broadcast room set up with students from around the world speaking together to both presidents, Lawrence emphasized the importance of dialogue among students from around the world.

Further into the broadcast, students asked Lawrence and Reichman to explain what they believe to be the importance of partnerships with student media on campus. “On Tuesday and Friday mornings, the first things I read are The Justice and The Hoot,” said Lawrence. “I read them to know what the student opinion is. Now, news comes from our radio station, our newspapers and it gets picked up online, and can be instantly communicated around the world.”

Reichman explained that IDC has a student-run radio station, and two daily Internet publications, one in Hebrew and one in English. “Student-run media is important, because our dividend from our work is what our students contribute to society after graduation,” Reichman said.

Reichman elaborated how important it is to him to learn how he can better IDC from his students. Not only does he view his students as his academic partners, he maintains a school rule that he meet with students quarterly in a local bar to discus criticisms and concerns about IDC, so they feel as comfortable as possible when they share their thoughts with him.

At the conclusion of the broadcast, Lawrence and Reichman both stressed the importance of studying abroad while in college. “The idea of social commitment alongside free market concept and professionalism go hand in hand with our philosophy,” said Reichman. “Both Brandeis and IDC are the same in that respect. We encourage students from abroad to study with us as well. This way, our students are exposed to what is happening all over the world.”

Like Reichman, Lawrence stressed the importance of studying abroad as part of a student’s global learning experience. “Studying abroad is a powerful thing because if students go abroad before they graduate, they bring their experience and knowledge back to Brandeis.”

Currently, WBRS and IDC Radio are considering airing broadcasts from one another’s stations to expose students to music and media trends from around the world and to commence the partnership Lawrence and Reichman have been working toward.