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Reinharz announces intention to resign

University president will stay on through June 2011 or until successor is found

Published: September 25, 2009
Section: Front Page


REINHARZ RESIGNS: President Reinharz spoke at a stamp commemoration yesterday just hours before announcing his pending resignation to the unviersity’s Board of Trustees.  Reinharz later announced his decision to resign by June 30, 2011 in a campus wide e-mail sent Thursday at midnight.<br /><i>PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot</i>

REINHARZ RESIGNS: President Reinharz spoke at a stamp commemoration yesterday just hours before announcing his pending resignation to the unviersity’s Board of Trustees. Reinharz later announced his decision to resign by June 30, 2011 in a campus wide e-mail sent Thursday at midnight.
PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

University President Jehuda Reinharz announced his intention to resign at an emergency meeting of the Board of Trustees yesterday evening.

At the request of the Board of Trustees, Reinharz will remain as president of the university for the duration of the 2009-2010 academic year. Reinharz has also agreed to stay president through June 30, 2011, or until the Board finds a replacement, a press release by the university said.

The announcement of his intended resignation comes one year after Reinharz extended his contract with the university for another five years. Reinharz’s current contract expires in 2014. At the Board’s request, Reinharz has agreed to stay with the university as a President Emeritus until 2014.

Reinharz became president of the university in 1994, and has worked at the university since becoming a professor in 1982. Reinharz’s term as president is the second longest in the university’s history, second only to the university’s founding president Abram Sachar, who served for 20 years.

In a letter to the Brandeis community, Reinharz explained, “I have reached the conclusion that now is the right time for me to focus on the next chapter of my career.”

In an interview with The Hoot, Reinharz denied that last spring’s Rose Art Museum controversy had any relation to his resignation.

“The situation with the Rose is obviously not pleasant,” he said. “But it had no impact on this decision.”

In the interview Reinharz revealed that the Board of Trustees had rehired Rasky Baerlein to handle media relations in light of his resignation. Reinharz called the firm’s employment “necessary” because the university is currently without a Vice President of Communications.

The Boston-based public relations firm was originally hired by the university last spring to help handle a media firestorm that resulted after Reinharz announced the Board of Trustee’s authorization to sell artwork from the museum.

The Hoot was given advanced access to information pertaining to Reinharz’s resignation on the condition that the newspaper not release the information until midnight of Thursday night and that it only contact specific people who were already apprised of the decision. Those people were: Chair of the Board of Trustees Malcolm Sherman, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees Jack Connors, Faculty Senate Chair Professor Sabine Von Merring (GER), Professor Eric Hill (THA), Professor David Hackett Fischer (HIST), and former Student Union president Jason Gray ’10.

The rest of the Brandeis community was informed of Reinharz’s intended resignation in a campus-wide e-mail sent at midnight of Thursday night.

Sherman, who chairs the university’s Board of Trustees, told The Hoot that he began discussions about Reinharz’s resignation with the president three and a half weeks ago, and that Reinharz’s original letter of resignation to Sherman is dated Aug. 31.

Sherman said the Trustees are “saddened” by Reinharz’s decision, and that “there was no pressure at all from us for him to resign.”

He added that the conditions of Reinharz’ resignation leave ample time for the Board to find the next President, but that the Board “does not have anyone in mind” for who will be the next president of the university.

Sherman did not have any specific details as to how the search for a new president would be conducted, however he did say he envisions the appointment of a search committee which would include faculty, students, and administrators. He added there is a possibility the university will hire a consultant to aid in the search.

Von Merring said she was informed of Reinharz’s decision yesterday morning, however that it was “not a surprise” as the president “had indicated this could happen in conversations over the last few weeks.”

Gray, who worked closely with Reinharz during his own term as president of the Student Union last year, said, “the more I worked with President Reinharz the more I came to respect him.”

Fischer, who has been a professor at Brandeis under all but one of its presidents, learned about Reinharz’s decision only yesterday, but said he was surprised and saddened by the President’s announcement.

“He gave a new sense of purpose to the university that no other president has,” he said of Reinharz, who began his term as president in 1994. “He essentially coined the term ‘social justice’ in its relation to this university.”

Connors and Hill did not respond to requests for comment by press time.