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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Political rifts shake administration

Published: September 20, 2013
Section: Editorials

As an institution accountable to its students, Brandeis University should attempt to communicate its administrative prerogatives in a more accessible manner. Rifts between administrators should be part of the school’s public discourse, such that disagreements on key issues can be respectfully moderated.

Recently, we have been given reason to believe that tensions simmering between key members of Brandeis management have resulted in an exodus of administrative talent from the school. Rather than publicly articulating the differences in opinion that led to the recent spate of resignations, Brandeis administrators appear to be working to cover up the lack of unanimity within their ranks.

It started this summer when President Frederick Lawrence blasted an email about Dean of Student Life Rick Sawyer’s departure. The email implied Sawyer had retired. What it failed to note was that Sawyer had actually resigned over political issues stemming from disagreements with other senior Brandeis officials.

In another instance of administrative mishandling of internal turbulence, the resignation of Dean of Admissions Mark Spencer was not even announced. Even in the predatory administrative environment that has come to characterize Brandeis’ internal affairs, we would have expected an email or press release thanking Spencer for his years of service. Instead: silence. The only notification of Spencer’s departure was the vacancy of his office.

The specific reason for this subterfuge remains unclear. But when ideological changes can only be mediated by the resignation of key officials, students deserve an explanation. We believe that the Brandeis community deserves a higher degree of transparency when it comes to administrative changes that directly affect the direction of our institution.