Brandeis University president mulling Foxman’s ADL post?

Brandeis University President Frederick Lawrence. Credit: Brandeis.

The TruthRevolt website is reporting that Frederick Lawrence, the president of Jewish-sponsored Brandeis University, is considering taking the position of Anti-Defamation League (ADL) national president, which will be vacated by Abraham Foxman in July 2015.

The ADL, which celebrated its centennial last year, states that it “fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all.” But the hiring of Lawrence, a civil rights expert and formerly the dean of George Washington University Law School, may signal that ADL is looking to place a greater emphasis on the civil rights portion of its mission than on fighting anti-Semitism. 

Foxman, 74, has worked for ADL since 1965 and in 1987 was named national director, a role in which he has become one of the highest-profile American Jewish organizational leaders and someone who is often seen as a de facto spokesman for the Jewish people.

Lawrence, who has been Brandeis’s president since 2011, faced a wave of criticism in April for the university’s decision to rescind an honorary degree planned for Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a women’s rights activist and critic of Islam. The school, which was accused of stifling free speech, said it pulled the honor over Hirsi Ali’s “past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values,” adding that the decision was reached after a discussion between Hirsi Ali and Lawrence. 

But Hirsi Ali begged to differ, saying at the time, “I wish to dissociate myself from the university’s statement, which implies that I was in any way consulted about this decision. On the contrary, I was completely shocked when President Frederick Lawrence called me—just a few hours before issuing a public statement—to say that such a decision had been made.” 

Incidentally, Lawrence and Foxman currently rank No. 4 and 5, respectively, on the Forward’s annual list of the highest-paid Jewish non-profit employees in America. Lawrence made $705,843 in 2013, while Foxman raked in $688,280.

Posted on July 24, 2014 .