Around Campus

Barbecue for 700: just one bag of trashPosted: Aug. 11, 2016

Brandeis University’s All-Campus Barbecue on Thursday, Aug. 10 yielded just one full bag of trash though more than 700 staff and faculty members partook in the annual celebration.

The remaining food scraps were composted, marking the first all-campus event to ever feature composting.

The effort came as part of Brandeis’ renewed commitment to waste diversion. Brandeis tripled its composting rates in the dining halls last semester. In 2016 so far, dining halls have collected 49 tons of food waste for compost, up from 27 tons in 2015.

Kitchen staff compost food scraps like meat, dairy and bones, as well as preparation leftovers including stems and peels.

“Our leftover food contains nutrients that are good for the soil.” said Brandeis sustainability manager Mary Fischer. “So, composting makes the best use of our food waste, and exemplifies our commitment to managing our waste in the best way possible,”

Thanks to new signage, strategy and training of staff, Brandeis also re-launched its campus recycling program last year.

Those efforts resulted in campus reaching a 26% recycling rate in 2016, an all-time high that demonstrates significant improvement from the 2015 rate of 18%.

The short-term goal for recycling on campus is 40%, the national average for universities.

American Philosophical Association awards prestigious book prize Brandeis professor Berislav Marusic Posted: Aug. 11, 2016

Brandeis University philosophy professor Berislav Marusic has been awarded the 2016 Sanders Book Prize for his work “Evidence and Agency: Norms of Belief for Promising and Resolving” by the American Philosophical Association (APA).

The APA promotes the discipline and profession of philosophy in the academic and public arenas and supports the professional development of philosophers at all levels.

The award, which also carries a $7,000 prize, will be presented to Marusic at the APA’s Eastern Division meeting in Baltimore, Maryland on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017.

The Sanders Book Prize is awarded to the best book in philosophy of mind, metaphysics, or epistemology.

The book must also engage in the analytic tradition and be published in English during the last five years. 

Cuban musician builds ties with Brandeis by playing her violinPosted: June 29, 2016
Photo/Caroline Cataldo

Paula Ochoa

Paula Maria Serrano Ochoa never thought she’d get to leave her home country – Cuba – much less set foot in the United States.

But with the help of Brandeis Professor of the Practice of Music Daniel Stepner, Ochoa did just that, bringing her violin with her for the trip of a lifetime.

“It’s very different here, in so many aspects,” said Ochoa, who met Stepner in January while he was visiting her hometown of Santiago de Cuba along with 20 other American artists and musicians.

“Everyone has a cell phone and there are cars – so many new cars – in Cuba all of the cars are old.”

Stepner attended a concert at Ochoa’s conservatory, Estavan Salas, and was immediately struck by the way she played her violin. Almost instantly, he wanted to extend an offer for Ochoa to visit Brandeis and attend his one-week Bach Unaccompanied Violin workshop from June 19 to 24 at the Slosberg Music Center.

“It wasn’t supposed to be a recruiting trip,” Stepner said. “But then I heard Paula, and the way she played was so dramatic. She has natural music talent and she enjoys performing.”

Ochoa, who is 18 years old, began playing the violin when she was five. She performs everything from Spanish flamenco music, to salsa, to classics like Bach as well as a Latin style called Betances.

To Stepner’s delight, Ochoa liked the prospect of coming to Brandeis, so he began to explore the daunting process of making her trip possible. The U.S. embargo with Cuba is more relaxed now than in it has been in recent years, but the logistics of arranging a trip between the two countries can still be a nightmare.

Stepner used a Brandeis scholarship as well as leftover funds from his January trip to Cuba – which was paid for, in part, through a GoFundMe page, to book Ochoa’s ticket to the U.S.

Ochoa was interviewed at the U.S. consulate in Havana to obtain her travel visa, then reserved her seat on a flight to New York with just two weeks to spare.

Both Stepner and the students at the summer string workshop were grateful to have Ochoa in their company.

She shared her experiences of living in Cuba and took in a slice of American college life.

“Paula has a delightful personality and is a joy to be around and I think everyone enjoyed having her here for this workshop,” Stepner said. “So, there was that interaction across borders. I’m also happy she’s had a chance to see one of the nicer parts of American society, the college campus.”

Ochoa is looking forward to taking what she’s been exposed to in the U.S. to further develop her career as a musician. She envisions becoming a soloist in the future, or maybe even joining Havana’s advanced music conservatory.

“In Cuba, hobbies don’t exist, so this is not a hobby,” she said, holding up her violin. “This is work, this is a career, this is the future, this is all.

“It’s my life, in all senses.”

Anat Hoffman visits Hadassah-Brandeis InstitutePosted: June 16, 2016

From left: Ellen Golub, HBI research associate; Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, HBI associate director; Anat Hoffman; Shulamit Reinharz, HBI founding director; Amy Powell, HBI communications director

Anat Hoffman, chair of the board of Women of the Wall and executive director of the Israel Religious Action Center, the civil and human rights organization addressing issues of religion and state, visited the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute last week. She shared her views on how the organization, slowly and steadily over 27 years, has scored important victories for women’s religious rights at the Western Wall. Their goal is to achieve the right to wear prayer shawls, pray and read Torah collectively and out loud at the Western Wall.

At the same time, Hoffman acknowledged how much work lies in front of them. For example, on the day of her visit, Lesley Sachs, executive director of Women of the Wall, was arrested in Jerusalem for bringing a 1838 Torah scroll, donated from a Sacramento Calif., to the Kotel to celebrate Rosh Chodesh Sivan (new month). Women in the past have been detained or arrested, but these actions slowed in January when the Israeli government approved the creation of an upgraded egalitarian prayer space for non-Orthodox Jews at the Western Wall. Now, they seem to be on the upswing as Orthodox leaders temporarily staged a takeover on the area of the Western Wall designated for egalitarian prayer and rivals began to stage provocations on both sides of the issue.

Hoffman, in taking a long view, noted that setbacks are part of the process. Each time a woman is arrested for peacefully reading from the Torah “the whole system is rocked,” Hoffman said. Overall, incidents of gender segregation in the public sphere are down in Israel and she sees that as important progress. Each year IRAC publishes a pamphlet titled, “Excluded, For God’s Sake: Gender Segregation and the Exclusion of Women in the Public Sphere in Israel,” but this year incidents were down so much they decided to publish every other year. For example, IRAC’S law suit against a radio station which refused to broadcast women’s voices has led to women’s inclusion in their programming. In addition, forced segregated seating on public buses has ended due to a series of successful lawsuits against bus drivers reminding them of their duty not to be complicit in discrimination.
Alumnus Len Asper '86 to speak at 2016 International Business School diploma ceremonyPosted: May 17, 2016

Brandeis University alumnus Len Asper ‘86 will receive the Dean’s Medal and deliver remarks at the Brandeis IBS diploma ceremony on Sunday, May 22. Asper is the current president and CEO of Anthem Sports and Entertainment Corporation.

Asper has remained an active member of the Brandeis University community since his graduation. He was a member of the board of trustees from 2007 to 2015, and he currently serves as a member of the board of overseers at Brandeis IBS. In 2014,

Asper was elected to the board of fellows, an honorary society that recognizes members of the University family who have made significant contributions of their and time and resources to Brandeis. He founded the Asper Center for Global Entrepreneurship in 2002 with the goal of encouraging entrepreneurial spirit and innovative thinking at the business school. The center serves as the business school’s platform for examining key trends affecting entrepreneurship across cultures and borders.

Prior to founding Anthem Sports and Entertainment Corporation, Asper spent more than a decade serving as the CEO of Canwest Global Communications Corporation, the largest media conglomerate in Canada at the time. At Anthem, he leads an entertainment network that owns and operates TV channels and digital assets such as Fight Network, FNTSY Sports Network, Pursuit Channel and

"Len is the embodiment of World Ready given his impressive global business career, his personal involvement with Brandeis IBS and his passion for entrepreneurship,” said Brandeis IBS Dean Bruce Magid, P ’15. "He exemplifies doing well in business and good for society, and I know our graduates will find him inspiring."

Before the diploma ceremony and Brandeis University commencement, the Brandeis IBS Class of 2016 will participate in a series of graduation events:

Friday, May 20 - 11 a.m. - 
Commencement Rehearsal and BBQ Luncheon

Friday, May 20 - 4 p.m. - 
Dean’s Reception

Saturday, May 21 - 3 p.m.
 - Celebrating our Graduates Reception for Friends and Family

Sunday, May 22 - 8 a.m.
 - Brandeis IBS Diploma Ceremony

For more information about Brandeis University Commencement, click here.