Brandeis University announced it will be taking bold steps in a move to increase applications and improve its yield rate. Located in Waltham, Massachusetts, Brandeis, which is the only Jewish-sponsored non-sectarian university, feels it’s time to change its image and prove “it’s not too Jewish.”
A spokesperson for the University said that “while many things will remain the same, there will be both significant and subtle changes.” The spokesperson added that the school’s administration and Board of Trustees believe that all the changes are in the school’s best interests and they were well prepared to address the well-known “critical thinking” of its alumni, students, parents and the American Jewish community, all of whom are sure to have their say on the transformation.
The school’s motto, which is the Hebrew word emmet – truth even unto its innermost parts –will not change since even Yale University has survived for centuries with a Hebrew motto. However, some of the names on the buildings will be changed. For instance, Shapiro Gymnasium will become Windsor-Smith Gymnasium and the Bernstein-Marcus Administration Building will be known as the Mayflower Administration Building.
Founded in 1948, the University is perceived by many to be a Yeshiva while its Jewish population actually only hovers around 45 percent, with many of those Jews being non-practicing. The school is considering closing on St. Patrick’s Day instead of Shemini Atzeret and having an annual pig roast on Chapel’s Fields in addition to the campus-wide break fast at the end of Yom Kippur. Taking a cue from Georgetown, which has welcomed some distinctly Jewish names to its campus buildings, crosses will be added in some Brandeis classrooms to give it a “Jesuit” feel.
Brandeis will also be reviving its football team, which was disbanded in the fifties. Despite the fact that football is known to cause brain injuries, the school feels that the “rah-rah” factor the sport will bring to the campus is important.
More than its Nobel prize-winning faculty, desirable east coast location near Boston, its consistently high acceptance rates to medical and other professional schools, and the exemplary employment rate of recent graduates, the University feels that these new measures will attract desirable applicants who previously had not been interested in or heard of the school.
Another Brandeis official, who did not wish to be named, said “We can’t do much about the kvetching that goes on among students, parents and alumni, but going forward we can certainly do things that will make people question whether we’re really any more Jewish than other schools such as University of Pennsylvania, Washington University in St. Louis, University of Maryland, etc.”
Further details will be reported as they occur.