September 19, 2018

BNC Executive Director visits NJ Region

IMG_1495(On September 20, BNC Executive Director Beth Bernstein visited our NJ Region, which is composed of the Clearbrook, Concordia, Harmony, Middlesex, Somerset, Tri-County, and Westlake chapters. Our luncheon and presentation by Dr. Tom Doherty, Professor of American Studies, were preceded by Beth’s remarks, which are reproduced here in toto.)

I am always so happy to come to New Jersey and be part of your wonderful University on Wheels programs. We want you to come to Brandeis and visit us, and we want to bring the best of Brandeis to you—our Brandeis faculty.

I want to begin by thanking each of you for supporting Brandeis—thank you for your time as volunteers, your talents, and for sharing your resources that helps us accomplish great things!

As you may know, two-thirds of our Brandeis students receive financial assistance and we work very hard to ensure deserving, talented students are able to study at Brandeis. I am thrilled to share that we have raised $622,000 toward our goal of $1 million for our new BNC Scholarship Campaign. We only have $378,000 left to reach our campaign goal. I hope you will help us accomplish this.

Remember that the students who come to Brandeis on scholarships are given the opportunity to study in the sciences and receive science scholarships through Sustaining the Mind fund. And they then work side by side with our acclaimed Brandeis researchers on understanding how the brain works—finding the key to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s or ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases. When you invest in a Brandeis student you are investing in the future. These are the kind of students you want to be leaders and who work hard to make a difference in the world. They may be the person to find a cure to a neurodegenerative disease, negotiate peace in our conflicted world, write an award-winning novel, or create new technology to improve our lives. The best is still to come!

I’d like to share a few points of pride with you about Brandeis:
• How many of you use Siri on your iPhone? Did you know that SIRI was co-founded by Brandeis alum Adam Cheyer? When he addressed a group of technology students recently he said to them, “I am not a college dropout: I’m a proud graduate of Brandeis!” One of his fondest memories was taking a computer science class at Brandeis and he said, “every time I walked out of every class with my mind blown.” This is a great example of a Brandesian who wanted to create technology that would make our lives easier.

• Princeton Review recently ranked Brandeis as the number-one university in the country for community service. From day one, our students live out social justice and do their part to give back to the community—to repair the world.

• Avi Rodal is one of our exceptionally accomplished scientists. She just published groundbreaking research on ALS—a neurodegenerative disease. Avi works with fruit flies and her research found and fixed an abnormality in flies’ nervous systems that had symptoms of ALS, restoring their ability to crawl. The significance of this is that we may be able to find a way to help human patients and help return their neurons to a healthy state. Brandeis has one of the top neuroscience programs in the country- we have some of the best scientists in the world.

• Eve Marder, world-renowned neuroscientist and both a Brandeis alumna and head of sciences at Brandeis, was in Norway last week because she received the very prestigious Kavli prize. Her research on lobster and crayfish revealed that brain circuits are “sculpted” from long before birth through adulthood. The research also explained how the brain achieves such a fine balance between the adaptability that allows us to learn
and to heal, and the stability that maintains our abilities and memories for a lifetime.

Dr. Marder answered a question about the brain’s ability to maintain stability even as it undergoes constant change. She said: “It’s magical how brains can incorporate changes without destroying function. Just think about it. Every time you have a long-lived cell, you’re constantly replacing the components. This turnover allows for plasticity but it also has to be kept in check. That is at the cellular scale. At a larger scale, you don’t want to train a brain to do something better at the risk of losing its ability to do something else that’s really important.”

We welcomed Brandeis’s 9th President, Ron Liebowitz. Time Magazine named him one of the top 10 college presidents in the country. He has an impressive track record with 31 years in higher education as a tenured Professor, provost, and he served 11 years as President of Middlebury College. He has stated that he supports Brandeis’s commitment to social justice and our strong Jewish heritage.

Brandeis is able to accomplish what it does thanks to your support. I hope you all feel a sense of pride at being part of the Brandeis family and that you all feel appreciated as friends and members of the BNC.

I look forward to showing you the Brandeis campus.


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