Brandeis University was founded in 1948 and is named after Louis Dembitz Brandeis, the first Jewish justice to be appointed to the US Supreme Court. A number of people were involved in its conception, including Israel Goldstein, C. Ruggles Smith, George Alpert, Abram L. Sachar, and Albert Einstein. Brandeis was built on land that initially housed Middlesex University (under C. Ruggles Smith), in Waltham, Massachusetts. When Middlesex University got into financial trouble, C. Ruggles Smith contacted Israel Goldstein, a prominent New York rabbi, about creating a Jewish-sponsored university on his campus. With the help of a Boston lawyer, George Alpert, they got the project underway, and in 1946 founded the Albert Einstein Foundation for Higher Learning, Inc. After a series of leadership controversies, however, including the planned appointment of Abram L. Sachar as president, Einstein withdrew his support, and the university decided to name itself after Louis Brandeis instead. Brandeis University opened in the fall of 1948 with 107 students and 13 faculty members, and with Abram L. Sachar as its founding president. The university attained Phi Beta Kappa accreditation in 1962, and in 1985, Brandeis was elected into the Association of American Universities.
Brandeis University’s campus is 235 acres, which includes roughly 100 academic and residential buildings. It is an attractive suburban campus, with grassy quads, pedestrian pathways, and an abundance of trees. The gothic Usen Castle towers over the north side of campus, and next to it is the Usdan Student Center, one of Brandeis’s social hubs. In the center of campus (and to the sides) are the main dorms and academic buildings on campus. The Rose Art Museum, Spingold Theater, Admissions Offices, and Slosberg Music Center form a belt across the south side of campus. The university is located nine miles west of Boston, and is accessible by subway (commonly referred to as the T), a free student shuttle that operates Thursday – Sunday, and a campus commuter rail.
Chum's coffeehouse is a popular weeknight haunt for many students. On any night, you can get some snack food, ice cream, or coffee and hang out on the cushy couches or listen to one of the many musical and performance acts which appear there. Marta Kauffman, one of the creators of the television show Friends, was an undergraduate at Brandeis and based the coffeehouse on the show, Central Perk, off of Chum's.
Another popular hangout is Einstein Bros. Bagels. Students often grab a quick cup of coffee before class or hang out in the atrium of the student center with their bagels on a slow day. On warm days, students often sit on the Great Lawn, right outside the student center. There are pickup games of Ultimate Frisbee, a lot of music (both over speakers and live), and some people just go there to study and enjoy the sun.
During the winter, Library Hill is a popular spot with students who take trays from the dining halls and decide to go sledding. It's a rather steep drop off of the main campus road which is located right next to Farber/Goldfarb Library. When it's covered in snow, it becomes a popular evening spot to play at.
Brandeis is located in Waltham, Massachusetts, about nine miles west of Boston. Waltham is a city with several colleges (including Brandeis University and Bentley College) as well as a number of public and private high schools. It stretches along the Charles River, and has a population of roughly 60,000. The main shopping and entertainment area of Waltham is located on Moody Street, which is about five minutes by car from the Brandeis campus.
As far as off-campus hangouts for Brandeis go, there aren't too many of them. Cappy's Pizza, which is right next door to one of the outlying dorms, 567 South Street, is a common place to find Brandeis students due to their low prices, good food, and proximity to the main campus. Many students also order in from Cappy's during late night study sessions. Also, the eatery takes WhoCash (the Brandeis currency), which also makes it popular.
Another popular spot is Moody Street. Many restaurants line the main drag and Brandeis students can often be found eating there. Moody offers places such as Margaritas, a tapas bar, the Watch City Brewery, and my favorite, Asian Grill. There is also a large costume shop which is filled with students around Halloween and Purim.
The other biggest off-campus hangout has to be Boston, which is only 15-20 minutes away by shuttle. What isn't there to do in Boston? A large percentage of the student body spends its weekends in the city, seeing theatre, movies, going to Fenway, frequenting clubs and bars — anything you can imagine. Boston is made very accessible to the Brandeis community as there is a free shuttle offered to and from campus for students.
Photos with Louis: A campus tradition for many is taking a photo with the Louis D. Brandeis bronze statue, which is on a small hill outside the Shapiro Campus Center. The statue depicts Justice Brandeis in a walking pose with his robes flying to the sides. At many different times of the year, he gets decorated by student groups and dressed according to the changing seasons.
“The Less You Wear, the Less You Pay” Dance: Another campus tradition which sadly has since been banned by the school administration was "The Less You Wear, the Less You Pay" dance. Students would come to the dance and pay anywhere from $1-$3, depending on how little clothing they wore. People took this opportunity to be creative with things such as garbage bags, candy wrappers, streamers, balloons, etc. However, in the spring of 2007, this dance was taken off the campus calendar, much to the dismay of the student body.
Balcony Romances: There is an area outside of Chum's coffeehouse with a stone balcony and a large statue. When one looks off the balcony, there is an amazing view of the Boston skyline, which is gorgeous at night. Many friends and lovers often choose this spot for various rendezvous.
Mitch Albom (1979) is best-selling author and sports writer for the Detroit Free Press.
Nelson Figueroa is a Major League Baseball player with the New York Mets.
Thomas Friedman (1975) is a Pulitzer-prize winning foreign affairs columnist at The New York Times.
Geir Haarde (1973) is the prime minister of Iceland.
Marta Kauffman (1978) is executive producer and co-creator of the Emmy Award-winning television series Friends.
Debra Messing (1990) is a film and TV actress best known for the TV series Will & Grace.
Arthur Levine (1970) is the former president of Columbia University Teachers College.
Judith Shapiro (1963) is president of Barnard College.
Robert Zimmer (1968) is president of the University of Chicago.
" Top Ten Sports Tidbits About Brandeis"
Brandeis competes in the NCAA Division III, in 21 varsity sports. Men’s and women’s sports include Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Fencing, Golf, Track, Soccer, Softball, Swimming & Diving, Tennis, and Volleyball. There is also a co-ed Sailing Team.
The Men's Soccer team won the Eastern Athletic College Conference (ECAC) in the 2006/2007 season, and the Women's Soccer team won their first ECAC Championship the following year.
Brandeis also boasts a world-class fencing team, and they regularly send competitors to the New England Regional NCAA championships and the NCAA National Championships. Tim Morehouse, a Brandeis graduate (’00), is the school's first Olympian. He will compete in Men's Fencing at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Last year, the Women's Basketball Team was ranked first in the country for much of the season and posted its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance.
In addition to varsity sports, Brandeis offers students the option to participate in 21 club sports, and some of the teams, like Ultimate Frisbee, hold social events as well as athletic meets. There is also an abundance of intramural sports on campus, and last year more than 2000 students participated in at least one of these.
For ten days in January 1969, about 70 students captured and held the student center, Ford Hall. They renamed the school "Malcolm X University" and issued a list of ten demands for better minority representation on campus, most of which were subsequently met.
The Men’s Fencing Team at Brandeis is one of the best in the country, continually sending its fencers to the NCAA National Championships. Tim Morehouse ('00) is the school's first Olympian, and he will compete in Men’s Fencing at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
In the sitcom Friends (co-created by Brandeis alums David Crane and Marta Kauffman) the Central Perk coffeehouse is based on Cholmondeley's or Chum’s, a coffee shop and lounge in Usen Castle.
In the 1977 Woody Allen movie Annie Hall, Allen accuses Carol Kane of being "like New York, Jewish, left-wing, liberal, intellectual, Central Park West, Brandeis University, the socialist summer camps and the, the father with the Ben Shahn drawings, right, and the really, y'know, strike-oriented kind of, red diaper, stop me before I make a complete imbecile of myself."
Brandeis’s motto is “Truth, Even unto Its Innermost Parts,” and its mascot is Ollie the Owl.
Brandeis students are guaranteed housing for their freshman and sophomore years, and the majority of these students live in the North and Massell quads. Each dorm features student lounges, a kitchen with utilities, laundry facilities, dorm programming, and a large community space with TVs, billiards, and foosball tables.
There are two quads for first years at Brandeis. Massell Quad has four dorms (Shapiro, Usen, Deroy, and Renfield) and North Quad has three dorms in which first years can live (Reitman, Gordon, and Cable). The fourth building in North Quad is reserved for sophomores and is called Scheffres. First years live in single, double, or triple rooms.
Sophomores have the option of living in Scheffres in North Quad, Pomerantz or Hassenfel in East Quad, Usen Castle, the Rosenthal Suites, 567 South Street, or the Charles River Apartments (known colloquially as Grad). In addition to the usual double/single/triple living arrangement, sophomores can opt to live in suite-style housing with five other people. Each person has his or her own room and there is a common area. This type of housing only shows up in Rosenthal, four rooms in the Castle, 567, and Grad.
Juniors and Seniors are not guaranteed housing but if they are eligible and choose to take it, their options are the Village (singles and doubles), Ziv Quad (six-person suites), Grad, and the Foster Mods (only for seniors). When the new Ridgewood apartment-style dorms are finished, they will be housing for upperclassmen as well.