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Lawrence introduces himself to the student body

Published: September 3, 2010
Section: News

Meet the president Frederick Lawrence talks with students on Monday evening in Ridgewood Commons.
PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

Presidential appointee Frederick Lawrence spoke briefly and met with students at an event in Ridgewood Commons courtyard Monday night.

In the student body’s first opportunity to meet the new president, Lawrence, who will officially be installed as president of the university on Jan. 1, 2011, offered brief remarks on his excitement to serve as president and the role students had in the search process, and spent most of the evening walking around and shaking hands with students.

Lawrence explained that he was attracted to Brandeis because of its historic and successful background, its commitment to social justice and its ability to exist as both a liberal arts college and a research university.

“There is literally no other job in higher education that could pull together all the threads of my personal and professional life the way this opportunity does,” he said.

“For me, meeting the students wasn’t just part of the process,” Lawrence said in an interview with The Hoot. “For me, meeting the students was part of the way I was sold on this school.”

During the search for a new president, former Union President Andy Hogan ’11, Student Representative to the Board of Trustees Heddy Ben-Atar ’11, and former Student Representative to the Board of Trustees Jonathan Kane ’10, held multiple meetings with trustees about how to involve the student body, according to a statement from Union President Daniel Acheampong ’11.

Hogan said the he was involved in “all parts of the search,” including “drafting the case statement” to interviewing the candidates and finalists.

“It says a significant amount about the administration and trustees acceptance of student involvement,” Hogan said.

Hogan, Ben-Atar and Kane also selected six students to serve on the Student Advisory Committee and presented a report detailing the concerns of students to the Official Search Committee.

Acheampong said that the Student Advisory Committee “not only interviewed the final candidate but they also did of extensive research to make sure that students’ inputs were heard.”

Lawrence said he was equally impressed with the impact students had during the process.

“The student role in the search committee shows that student opinion was considered important to the process,” he said. “It also shows something equally if not more significant – that the school understood that showcasing the students was an important attraction for a certain kind of candidate.”

Before Lawrence takes office as University President in January, he said he will be splitting his time between Brandeis and Washington D.C., where he currently serves as Dean of The George Washington University Law School. Even this week, he had several flights scheduled back and forth between Boston and Washington, D.C.

From mid-November on, Lawrence, a graduate of Williams College with a law degree from Yale University, said he plans to spend most of his time here at Brandeis preparing to serve as president.

Lawrence, met with students even as it got dark Monday evening, asking students about their concerns and hopes for the university, something Hogan considers promising.

“My hope is this upward trend of student involvement stays with us for a while,” Hogan said.