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Alumni in the News

Brandeis community invited to celebrate Alumni Achievement Award winners

By David E. Nathan

The Brandeis community is invited to join the celebration for human rights and social justice activist Roy DeBerry ’70, MA’78, PhD’79, and Susan Weidman Schneider ’65, a founding mother of the pioneering Jewish feminist magazine Lilith, who will receive the 2015 Alumni Achievement Award during a ceremony on Oct. 24.

The award recognizes alumni/ae who have made distinguished contributions to their professions or chosen fields of endeavor. It represents the highest form of university recognition bestowed exclusively on alumni.

Interim President Lisa Lynch will present the awards to DeBerry and Schneider at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24 in the Faculty Club. The Alumni Achievement Awards have typically been bestowed during Reunion in June, but the presentation was moved to Fall Fest to give students, alumni, faculty and parents the opportunity to meet the recipients.

“I am honored to welcome Roy and Susan back to campus to recognize their achievements and commitment to social justice,” Lynch said. “They have brought great distinction to the university, and we are pleased to honor them in the presence of our students and faculty.”

Past winners include Thomas Friedman ’75, foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times; Roderick MacKinnon ’78, Nobel Prize-winning scientist; Marta Kauffman ’78 and David Crane ’79, co-creators of “Friends;” Robert Zimmer ’68, president of the University of Chicago; Deborah Bial ’87, founder of the Posse Foundation college-access initiative; and Jon Landau ’68, music manager and longtime Bruce Springsteen collaborator. Complete list of past winners.

The honorees:

Roy DeBerry ’70, MA’78, PhD’79,
was active in the civil rights movement in his native Mississippi, first as a Freedom School student (his teacher was Aviva Futorian ’59, who later encouraged him to attend Brandeis) and later as an organizer of the voter registration efforts of the mid-1960s. As president of the Brandeis Afro-American Society, he helped lead the 1969 takeover of the Ford Hall administration building by black students displeased with the racial climate on campus.

After earning a master’s degree and doctorate in political science from Brandeis, he pursued additional studies at Jackson State, Duke, Carnegie Mellon, Michigan and Harvard.

DeBerry has held a series of executive-level positions in state and local government and higher education. He recently retired as vice president for economic development and local governmental affairs at Jackson State, where he currently serves as an adjunct professor of public policy and administration. He is also executive director of the Hill Country Project, an economic development initiative that he initially co-founded to create an oral history that documented the civil rights movement in Benton County.

Susan Weidman Schneider ’65 has served as editor-in-chief of Lilith since its inception in 1976. The award-winning magazine — with the tagline “independent, Jewish and frankly feminist” — examines gender justice issues in Jewish contexts and speaks with a Jewish voice in the general women’s movement. Schneider has written extensively, in Lilith and elsewhere, about ethnic stereotyping, reproductive freedoms and changing patterns of identity.

She is the author of two acclaimed books, “Jewish and Female,” about the effects of feminism on Jewish life, and “Intermarriage: The Challenge of Living with Differences between Christians and Jews.”

Schneider has received numerous professional honors, including the Polakoff Lifetime Achievement Award in journalism, Hadassah’s Golden Wreath Award and the American Jewish Congress’s Eleanor Roosevelt Prize.

Date: September 1, 2015