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Changing of the guard

Published: September 3, 2010
Section: News


Last month, Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Jean Eddy announced she would be gone by the end of this one. On Tuesday, Provost Marty Krauss announced she is stepping down. Eddy and Krauss’ resignations make them the latest in a growing number of senior administrators to leave their university posts since January 2009. This trend was kicked off when Senior Vice President for Communications Lorna Miles left Brandeis in the summer of 2009, with Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Peter French and President Jehuda Reinharz falling closely behind her last fall.

The recent decisions mean that four of the most critical day-to-day administrative posts at the university, the president and those in charge of monetary, academic and enrollment policy, will soon change hands. The finance and administration post of the EVP/COO, will, instead of being replaced, be split. Two former vice presidents, Frances Drolette and Mark Collins, will now be more senior leaders and report to the president directly.

With these changes, the university will literally have a new face in nearly every top office by the end of the year, coinciding with the first term of future President Frederick Lawrence. But it is Lawrence’s arrival that makes these departures less alarming than an opportunity for change in the university looking forward.

In order to understand the meaning of the past year and a half’s exodus, it is important to recognize that each administrator left for different reasons.

Miles left the university before Reinharz announced his resignation in September 2009, and the post was filled by Andrew Gully soon after Reinharz’s announcement. Unlike the other positions, this transition was completed before Lawrence’s appointment.

French retired after his more than 12-year career, and followed by his staying on as an adviser to the president. His replacement by Apfel, with his own resignation, may have been jarring on the department in news reports, but Apfel himself left to continue a Ph.D. elsewhere.

Krauss, too, is leaving for educational reasons. She’s going back to teaching: at Brandeis, with the Heller School faculty.

Eddy’s story may relate somewhat to other departures, but only in that both she and Reinharz have been here for more than a decade, all the while serving together. Eddy explained that she wants the future president to have the same opportunities.

“When a new president comes to campus, it’s a wonderful opportunity for new things,” she said. “I think every president pulls together a team that surrounds himself or herself. I was a part of [Reinharz’s] team, and I have incredible loyalty to him.”

It is this idea, that Lawrence will be able to pick his senior leadership, that comforts Fischer.

“We will see a new team emerge with the new president and I see that as a source of strength, that there is a continuous process,” said Fischer, who began his career at Brandeis in 1962 and has taught under every single Brandeis president. “I subscribe to the Jeffersonian and Jacksonian idea of rotation in office.”

Eddy also said that even she is excited about Brandeis’ future.

“I feel the time I was meant to be here was ended,” she said, and nervous observers “have absolutely no reason to worry.”

That nervousness could only be Brandeis’ situation going forward, with the budget deficit and lingering financial concerns after the Rose Art Museum controversy and without its top staff. But the line of the administrators, even those leaving, is that they’ll be quickly and easily replaced.

“What you see is what is going on: there is no conspiracy, no hidden story,” Krauss said. “There’s a very smooth transition going on—President Lawrence has been all over campus, and everyone’s been fully briefed.”

Lawrence will have to make these major hiring decisions that will start off his career at Brandeis. Until then, the university may appear to be running with a very reduced level of experience.

But, “there are fabulous people, fabulous deans, enough wonderful people to run this place until these positions are filled,” Eddy said. She explained that the posts should be quickly filled and that Lawrence and the team will adjust to the challenge. Krauss, meanwhile, is here for the entire academic year, and other replacements may well be named before she leaves.

Lawrence himself framed the issue as one that could be expected, and even celebrated.

“I think people familiar with higher education know transitions are opportunities to grow and redefine and are normal for a top-tier university,” he said. “I’m very optimistic—Brandeis has had a great past, but has an even more exciting future.”

Fischer described the transition of the senior leadership as “part of the natural ebb and flow of Brandeis.”

“Every time the president changes there is a moment of transition and it is always awkward and things always end up differently and a considerable amount of people come and go,” he explained.

Reinharz, meanwhile, either knew or hired all of the people listed—including his successor.

“Provosts never have long terms, and Marty has gone above and beyond,” Reinharz said, “and Jean has taken a new position when she arrived and done an incredible job.”

On the subject of the future, Reinharz said that “Brandeis is in better shape today than it has ever been in its entire history. We have been through some difficult years, but we are doing very well. We have a clear path for the future.”

His longtime colleague and the one leaving most immediately agreed.

“If I thought that that [hope for the future] were not true, I would not be leaving. Period,” Eddy said. “I’m too invested.”