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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Failing at common sense

Published: April 24, 2009
Section: Opinions

As we close the year, the editorial board of The Brandeis Hoot is confused. Our administrators are smart – they have graduate degrees and letters after their names. And yet, they seem to have a problem reading. Throughout several months of dialogue about the Rose Art Museum, the administration has changed its position multiple times as it continues to stumble across new evidence regarding what they may and may not do with the building and the art.

First, the museum was to be closed and the art sold. Then, university President Jehuda Reinharz, in the face of mounting public opposition, told us that the museum would not be closed but would instead be ‘integrated more fully into the academic mission of the university.’ A needed translation was never provided. In the midst of this media fiasco, it became clear that there were a variety of legal hurdles in the university’s way, all of which would be stringently enforced by the Massachusetts Attorney General. Thereafter, a committee was formed.

Recently, Provost Marty Krauss announced that the museum would reopen on an interim basis in July due to pressure from the Attorney General. Edward Rose’s will specifically states that his money must be used for a public art museum, not a classroom space and not a gallery. While it is possible for some art to be sold, the museum cannot be closed. It is inexcusable for the administration and the Board of Trustees to have overlooked crucial legal documents when making a decision about the museum. Quick action without thought is counterproductive.

The administration has dragged the entire campus into months of debate about options that don’t even exist because it failed to do its homework. In spite of advanced degrees and expertise, administrators displayed resounding failure in one subject: common sense.