Pass It On: “Brandeis Changed My Life”

MUMBAI, India — From the broad boulevards of New Delhi, through the science centers of Bangalore and on into the business bustle of Mumbai, India continually impressed me with the quality of its high technology and rapid modernization that exists side-by-side with the features of this emerging economy.

Still, I realized as our trip neared its end just how important word of mouth is, especially for spreading and validating a story like ours.

It is essential for representatives of the staff and faculty and others in the Brandeis family to talk to prospective students and their parents about Brandeis’ high academic standards, the nature and relevancy of liberal arts education embedded in a research university, our qualities as a small, caring community and its cornerstone commitments to social justice and engagement with the world. It is wonderful when parents of enrolled students see these things in action and tell their friends, who often are the parents of prospective future students, that they really like the changes, the growing up, that they are seeing in daughters and sons who are living the Brandeis experience.

I saw again and again during our time in India the power of person-to-person communication that validates our representations.

Given the host of opportunities we discussed with other institutions and the numbers of prospective Brandeis families we met through the good graces of current Brandeis parents, the future expansion and development of the Brandeis-India Initiative seems bright. I am confident that many more students, faculty, alumni and friends will be involved in India in the years to come as a result of this outreach.

It is important to note and remember the central role of personal engagement in getting us this far. This will continue to play a big role in executing our global strategy, not only in India but also in the other countries as well.

For all the wonders of high-speed global communications, marketing, branding and the rest, the continuing efficacy of word of mouth is good for Brandeis, and probably for the rest of the world, too.

To paraphrase a wise statement from Justice Brandeis that has long been one of my favorites, the answer to the impersonal speech that is so ubiquitous these days is personal speech. There is little more gratifying in my life than hearing a parent — or a student — say to peers, “I really like Brandeis. I’ll tell you why…” Better yet: “Brandeis changed my life….”

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