update deskSchools & Higher Education

Facing serious fiscal challenges, Brandeis to shed 60 staffers

Jonathan Sarna, director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at the university, said the school must prepare “as it transitions into a new era where Jews and Jewish institutions feel far less secure than before.”

Rabb Graduate Center at Brandeis University. Credit: Kenneth C. Zirkel via Wikimedia Commons.
Rabb Graduate Center at Brandeis University. Credit: Kenneth C. Zirkel via Wikimedia Commons.

Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., recently announced plans to eliminate 60 employees due to financial difficulties.

“These decisions have not been made lightly,” the academic institution’s senior leaders wrote in an email to staff. “We have examined spending across the university to find savings. Unfortunately, it was not possible to identify sufficient savings without needing to reduce positions.”

The cuts may hit non-tenured faculty the hardest. “The need for contract faculty will be reviewed as contracts come up for renewal,” said Julie Jette, interim senior vice president of communications at the college.

“Brandeis stands out for its banning of pro-Hamas groups, who were ordered off-campus; for its early use of the police against militant anti-Israel agitators; and most importantly for its widely seen advertisements and actions in response to antisemitism,” Jonathan Sarna, the director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at the private university, said to JNS from Spain, where he is currently traveling.

“Where Jewish students in too many American universities felt fearful and threatened, Jewish students at Brandeis felt proud,” Sarna told JNS, adding that “sadly, the community of Jewish donors has not sufficiently rewarded Brandeis for its stance. It faces a large, unsustainable deficit.”

The university is one of a handful that extended deadlines for transfer students amid the uptick in antisemitic incidents and unrest this year.

Sarna noted that some of his peers seem to be taking advantage of the school’s fiscal woes to push their own agenda. “Already, some faculty on campus are mischievously viewing this deficit as a response to the president’s support for Israel,” he said. “In my view, it is imperative that Brandeis’s Jewish mission be strongly supported at this time.”

Warning that Brandeis—with about 6,000 students, including those in graduate programs—needs help, Sarna advised that the school must prepare “as it transitions into a new era where Jews and Jewish institutions feel far less secure than before.”

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