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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Reinharz’s job not at risk, Trustees say

Published: February 27, 2009
Section: Front Page

Members of the university’s Board of Trustees told The Hoot this week that they have complete confidence in President Reinharz’s ability to lead the university. These statements of assurance follow an article in the Boston Globe entitled “Brandeis woes put president on the line.”

Chair of the Board of Trustees Malcolm Sherman told The Hoot in a phone interview that he believes the Boston Globe article to be inaccurate and said that while the Globe article implied that Reinharz’s job security was at risk, “we’re definitely going to keep him around.”

Fellow Board member Stuart Lewtan ’84 agreed and said that the Board is “100 percent behind president Reinharz.”

While Sherman acknowledged that “the public relations was not handled in the most perfect way” when Reinharz announced the Board’s authorization of the closing of the Rose Art Museum, he said that “it’s not entirely President Reinharz’s fault.”

“Clearly, he’s the President, so the buck stops with him” Sherman said, “but there were many people involved with the media handling.”

“In a time of crisis you need a tough guy to lead,” he continued. “You need a strong and effective leader.”

Lewtan agrees, saying that “it’s difficult to lead in these crazy times. The most important decisions are often the least popular ones.”

Sherman also said he was heartened by Reinharz’s apology to the Brandeis community, and sees the president’s acknowledgment of his mistake as a sign of good leadership.

Additionally, Sherman said, Reinharz’s media bungle is not enough to make the Board reconsider his employment.

“He has not lost the trust of the Board,” he said. “You can’t say that just because he made one mistake he’s got to go.”

While both Sherman and Lewtan acknowledge that some of Reinharz’s recent actions have been unpopular, both hope to see that change.

“I have been very impressed by the recent increase in transparency on campus,” Lewtan said. “It seems as though with the town hall meetings he has been making an effort to hear out as many opinions as possible so that he can make the best decision moving forward.”

Senior Vice President of Institutional Advancement Nancy Winship said that the Board supports Reinharz, in part, because in his 15 years as president of the university, the endowment and cash gifts to the university have more than tripled.

It was Reinharz, Winship told The Hoot in October, who reinvigorated the university’s relationship with Carl and Ruth Shapiro—the university’s largest donors.

Sherman also credited Reinharz with the university’s expanded curriculum, and increased student diversity, saying that the university has “transformed” during Reinharz’s time as president.

Just last year, Board of Trustees renewed Reinharz’s contract for an additional five years.

While some members of the Brandeis community and local media, including Bob Oaks of National Public Radio, have speculated that Reinharz might consider resigning because of his public relations mistakes (speculations that have been met with a definite no by Reinharz himself), Sherman said that he does not believe Reinharz will do so.

“He’s mentioned that this might be his last contract,” Sherman said of the 64 year-old university president. “But he’s not going anywhere before 2014.”