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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Editorial: Diversify the upper echelons

Published: October 2, 2009
Section: Front Page

As the initial shock of university President Jehuda Reinharz’s resignation announcement begins to wane, Brandeis community members are turning towards the future.

While appropriately considering Reinharz’s strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures, the university community has begun to consider what characteristics a new president must possess.

Certain qualities are obvious. The new president must be a skilled fundraiser with the ability to connect to the old vanguard of donors as well as foster relationships with new ones. Furthermore, the new president must be capable of handling crises and controversies with grace instead of defensiveness.

From a student’s perspective, the new president should be a visible figure, not another faceless administrator cloistered in a bell tower. We should know what our president looks like not because we have scoured the university website, but because we see him, or maybe even her, walking around campus, waving to students with a smile on his or yes, even her, face.

For that matter, it would be refreshing if the new president did not fit the mold of all of the university’s previous presidents. We should continue Reinharz’s admirable legacy of increasing diversity on campus by increasing the diversity of the administration. Whether the new president is a woman or a minority, the presence of a president who is not male or not white will signify that Brandeis is truly an institution dedicated to the pursuit of social justice.

We do not advocate the hiring of a token woman or a token minority to show how ‘diverse’ and ‘open-minded’ we are.

Rather, we ask that the search committee make a serious effort to seek candidates who do not fit the mold, and give those candidates the benefit of consideration, in order to embody this university’s pillar of social justice and our founding ideals.