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Renew dialogue with Waltham

Published: December 2, 2011
Section: Editorials


It’s time for President Fred Lawrence to meet Waltham’s mayor.

In an interview this week with The Hoot, Mayor Jeannette A. McCarthy, who was just elected to a third term, said that, although she attended Lawrence’s inauguration last spring, she has not yet met with Lawrence in an official capacity.

That’s a pretty big problem. As a part of Waltham, Brandeis has a responsibility to give back to the community and McCarthy has some big ideas that Lawrence and the rest of the Brandeis community would do well to consider.

“I have a lot of kids that might never get to go to college. … Those are the type of things that I can’t quantify with a financial value but I would quantify those with a social value. I want to know what [Brandeis is] doing now.”

McCarthy explained that the recent financial crisis has meant that Brandeis is not as involved as it was in the past.

“They are involved with the students but they are not as involved financially,” she said.

In comparison, Bentley University, also in Waltham, has given more in “cash donations” to the city than Brandeis. McCarthy would like to see that change.

But the first step is for both sides to sit down and, as McCarthy suggested, outline both the realities of the Waltham-Brandeis relationship and how Brandeis can be more involved in the community.

Our community has a real stake in Waltham’s plans.

McCarthy detailed ideas for a Waltham transportation system run on clean energy and for making streets safer through improvements in lighting for students walking at night. When speaking with Hoot staff, she was receptive to incorporating student ideas into her policy plans for the coming term. At the same time, however, she made clear that lines of communication between Brandeis and her office ought to remain open.

“[Brandeis] is a worldwide international university, but it’s a university within the … community,” McCarthy said. “I think they should do more.”

It’s about time for Lawrence to pick up the phone, dial 781-314-3100 and begin discussions with McCarthy and, by extension, the greater Waltham community.