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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Lawrence runs the show, even from India

Published: February 10, 2012
Section: Front Page

President Lawrence’s official trip to India, now at the end of its two weeks, is notable both for its length and the sheer number of goals the administration and community has laid on its shoulders. All the while, according to the university, Lawrence has also been running the place “business as usual.”

Brandeis initially sold the event as one to “expand Brandeis’ India presence.” Lawrence has also been working on the links between this university and those abroad, meeting with his counterparts on Indian colleges and with non-academics involved in university and international tie promotion.

Lawrence told an audience of Indian students and other community members that the importance of his trip could not be overstated.

“We should not expect the world’s two largest democracies to travel identical paths or reach identical results,” Lawrence said, but they will “have a great deal to teach each other and to learn from each other in the quest to build tolerant and diverse societies.”

This learning was stressed by Lawrence to mean collaboration, not detrimental competition.

“As we aim for the stars and as we try to do too much, we are keenly aware and deeply grateful that we are not in this alone,” he said. “Together we will indeed keep grinning … Together we can continue to argue with the world, and to challenge ourselves to imagine a world as it should be, as it might yet be,” he continued.

The president also met with the India National Center for Biological Sciences to promote what BrandeisNOW called “a formal institutional partnership that could involve graduate students, undergraduates and post-docs.”

It went on to say, “There is currently a fit between U.S. and Indian research organizations, according to scientists in both countries in that there are many highly qualified researchers in America but a relative shortage of funding and a lot of funding in India but a relative shortage of high-level researchers.”

The president is also participating in religious exercises in the country, going to Chabad of New Delhi. He wrote about the experience on his official blog.

“Our small group comprised young and old, and people from at least three continents—for that morning, a community,” the president wrote.

In typical Brandeis form, he even met with the Israeli ambassador to India to discuss the apparently clear connection between Brandeis and the ambassador’s own home nation.

Two weeks being a long time to be away, the university has been under the supervision of President Lawrence from abroad and, according to Senior Vice President for Communications Andrew Gully, he checks in often.

In the meantime, “Brandeis never missed a beat,” he said.

“Thanks to today’s technology, the president [has been] in regular touch with his staff, the provost, other members of the administration, faculty and trustees, so it was really business as usual,” Gully explained.

The committee that reorganized the administration chain of command last year upon Lawrence’s accession to the presidency explicitly described the provost, currently Steve Goldstein, as first among equals among top brass under the president.

But “we often meet as a group, or as small groups, to work on assorted issues when the president is here or away on university business,” Gully said. “We all work on a variety of issues but all major decisions would be discussed with the president, who has the final say.”

Gully confirmed that while “the provost is the second-ranking member of the administration and in consultation with the president manages university affairs when he is away from campus,” this has not been diminished contact between the president and top members of the university while Lawrence had been in India.