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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Presidents discuss their lives in college, share senior memories with class of 2011

Published: December 3, 2010
Section: Front Page

Seniors: Presidents Reinharz and Lawrence reminisced on their senior years of college.
PHOTO BY Ingrid Schulte/The Hoot

Outgoing university President Jehuda Reinharz and future university President Frederick Lawrence relived their senior experiences at a senior-only event held in The Rose Art Museum Thursday night designed to inspire members of the class of 2011 to give to their senior class gift.

Seniors in the audience were invited to ask the presidents any question they wanted, ranging ranges from what the future presidents thought they would be doing “the day after graduation” to what their favorite drink was in college.

Reinharz, for example, described to students how he had “one roommate who was weird as all hell.

“I had another weird roommate who would only sleep when the lights were on, and I would wake up in the middle of the night and see him looking at me,” he said. “I can understand why someone would look at me, but in the middle of the night while I’m sleeping is very weird.”

Lawrence, on the other hand had a great freshman roommate who was randomly assigned to him and with whom he has stayed in touch since college.

“He was the one I had those really great conversations late in the night with about everything and nothing,” Lawrence said. “We had a very close connection.”

One of the discussions Lawrence had with his roommate was about what life would be like after college. Lawrence said he thought he might go into teaching because he comes from “a family of teachers, but I had thought about it, the likelyhood of becoming a university president would have been zero.”

Reinharz said he did not pay much attention to his future in either his high school or college years, saying that because he immigrated to the United States only a year before he applied to college he didn’t really know how the process worked.

“I didn’t even think about college except for that I had a girlfriend who said, ‘well, aren’t you applying to college,’ so I applied,” he said. “I had no clue what I was doing … I changed my major four or five times.”

Lawrence said that while his carreer path sometimes “looks like it was a straight line, I assure you that living through it there were all sorts of zigs and zags.”

“Right now, when you’re a senior, it’s like you’re driving down a road, and you basically know where you’re going, but it’s foggy, so you can’t see that far,” he said.

Reinharz assured students that everything would end up working out in their favor, saying that though initially he had “no idea what I was doing, I was propelled by instinct, eventually it will come to you.”

He continued to say that his one regret was that he did not participate in clubs in college. Reinharz explained that because he was on a scholarship at Columbia University, he “felt I had to deserve it all the time.”

“I didn’t feel deprived, but there are some things, like study abroad, that students do today that I just didn’t think to do,” he said.

Lawrence urged students to take advantage of their last few months of college saying, “this year and the next three years should be the best of your life, if they aren’t, then we’re doing something wrong.”