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Alumni in the News

Larry Kanarek ’76 named new chair of Brandeis Board of Trustees

The Brandeis University Board of Trustees elected Larry Kanarek 76 as chair. He will take the helm in May, when Perry M. Traquina ’78 concludes a three-year term as board chair.

Kanarek spent 34 years with McKinsey & Company, the global management-consulting firm, before retiring in 2014. He is currently a private consultant.

“It’s a privilege to have one more way to give back to this institution and community that mean more to me than any other,” said Kanarek after the board vote. 

Kanarek described his experience at Brandeis as nothing short of transformative. “As Brandeis has done for so many other young people, its exceptional faculty, students and values changed the arc of my life.” 

A board member since 2010, Kanarek’s involvement with the university spans decades. Most recently, he chaired the successful presidential search committee that led to former Middlebury president Ron Liebowitz’ selection as Brandeis’ next president on July 1.

Kanarek said he “got to know Ron Liebowitz well,” during the search process, which involved input from faculty, students, staff, donors and alumni. “I look forward to working closely with such a talented and committed educational leader.”

In the 1990s, Kanarek led the development of the strategic plan for the Brandeis International Business School, and sat on its Board of Overseers. He led the fundraising campaign to establish an endowed scholarship in honor of economics professor Barney Schwalberg, and supported the Joel Friedland ’76 Endowed Study Abroad Scholarship, among other initiatives. Currently, he also teaches an IBS class on business strategy with Ben Gomes-Casseres.

“Larry is passionate about Brandeis,” said Interim President Lisa M. Lynch. “He is an inspired and strategic thinker whose leadership skills will strengthen our ability to seize opportunities as well as weather challenges in this increasingly complex world.

“On behalf of the entire Brandeis community, I would also like to extend enormous gratitude to Perry for his service,” said Lynch. “We are fortunate to have had his steady leadership over these past three years, and I am particularly grateful for his support over this past year while I have served as Interim President.”

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Kanarek followed his sister, Linda Kanarek Sherman ’70 to Brandeis. Supported by a scholarship, he majored in economics, taking six courses with Schwalberg, prompting Kanarek occasionally to joke that he “majored in Barney Schwalberg.” Kanarek was 20 when he graduated summa cum laude.

Two years later, he went to Harvard Business School, where he became a Baker Scholar, and graduated in 1980 with high distinction. That year he joined McKinsey, becoming a senior partner after little more than a decade. He has also headed its Washington, D.C. office, and sat on its board of directors.

Traquina, who will remain on the board, said Kanarek’s life-changing experience as a Brandeis student, coupled with his deep understanding of Brandeis’ values and commitment to the liberal arts, made him an enlightened choice to lead the board.

“Larry embodies the best of what a Brandeis education instills: a thirst for lifelong learning, a search for the truth, and a drive to help others,” said Traquina.

Brandeis, like the rest of the world, faces accelerating change, said Kanarek, caused by “globalization, the ubiquity and power of science and technology, and evolving political and social challenges.” All of which “makes the university’s steadfast commitment to the liberal arts, research, diversity and its Jewish heritage so important."

“We are in a position to help develop the next generation of students to be a major force for good in this changing world,” Kanarek said.

Date: April 1, 2016