September 22, 2018

Report on Leadership Event at Brandeis University

No one from our chapter had ever attended a BNC event on the Brandeis campus. As part of the new leadership group of our Somerset chapter, three of us signed up to go. On May 2, Marilyn Altman, Chris Retz, and I set off for Waltham, curious about what was in store for us.

After settling into our hotel rooms overlooking the Charles River, we had our first group dinner. From the start, everyone was so welcoming and interested in us as individuals. We were assigned tables apart from our friends that so that new bonds were immediately forged. This occurred at each meal so we continued to meet other chapter leaders and connect as a group. In addition, at each meal, there was a Brandeis student, BNC Board member, or a member of the BNC professional staff at our table. We were able to have in-depth conversations with each.

Everywhere we went on campus students, teachers, and other professionals were so enthusiastic about their positions and the feeling of community and inclusivity to all on the campus was manifest. Students who were the beneficiaries of BNC scholarships were so very appreciative and had amazing aspirations, and we are helping to make these aspirations a reality. At our recent installation, the father of one of the students we met came to address us. He was very charming and put a face on a family that received scholarship funds from BNC. He expressed how extremely grateful his family was. His daughter had a fabulous experience and hopes to enter medical school in the near future.

If I had one wish to be granted for my chapter, it would be to magically transport us all up to the Brandeis campus for one day. I would love to have all BNC members be infused with the enthusiasm and scholarship pervasive everywhere on campus. The atmosphere is stimulating and inclusive.

Addresses from our BNC Executive Director, leaders in the areas of membership, leadership development, fund raising and a detailed lesson on using our fabulous BNC web site, were enthusiastically received by our chapter leaders. It was BNC 101, 102, 103 and more in one day—all a chapter leader needs to know.

We toured the campus and visited the amazing Library Archives and “the future is here” Maker 3-D Lab, where among other things, Brandeis students are creating prosthetic hands for children in poor countries!

I also learned firsthand the importance of our chapter contributions to the various National projects we support. As you know, Brandeis University was founded in 1948 to primarily accommodate very deserving Jewish students who were denied entry into other prestigious universities because of the then-existing quota system. Brandeis now equally serves diverse students of many religions, ethnic groups, and nationalities.

Did you know that the average age of a Brandeis alumnus is only 42? They haven’t even hit their career strides yet and many are not yet able to donate substantial amounts to their alma mater. Alumni Associations are a primary source of funds for universities. Therefore, the coffers of Brandeis can’t begin to compete with the enormous endowment funds of the other prestigious colleges and universities in the Boston area. In seeking top-ranked students, Brandeis needs to be able to compete with the scholarship aid packages offered by those schools.

Did you know that two out of three Brandeis students receive some form of financial aid? This places great importance on the funds we raise for our Scholarship Campaign. We are helping Brandeis to be able to attract the very best students in the country. All our funds go to American students.

My BNC chapter friends and I learned so very much during our brief stay on campus. We drove home imbued with renewed enthusiasm for BNC and our future programs. We spoke non-stop for the five-hour trip back home about what we learned and how we would implement some of the most appropriate programs for us.

If you are ever given the opportunity to attend a BNC Leadership Conference on campus, do not hesitate to immediately say “yes.” You will use all the wonderful resources offered by National so much more effectively. You will not continue to reinvent the wheel in the chapter, as much of what you are thinking about has already been anticipated by our professional and lay National staff. Your jobs will be easier and more satisfying. The icing on the cake is that you will meet other leaders with the same goals and interests that you have. You will learn the importance of your participation in BNC, make wonderful new connections and allow this unique university to ensure its service to future generations of deserving, appreciative students.


Judy Dorfman

Co-President, Somerset Chapter

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