Grateful alumnus makes generous Reunion gift
The way Robin Brooks ’57 tells it, he might not have pursued a career in the field of higher education administration if he had been a better student.
He admits that his journey to a bachelor’s degree in sociology and anthropology had some bumps along the way, particularly during his first two years, but he eventually found his way, thanks, in part, to the compassionate understanding and involvement of Joseph Kauffman, Brandeis’ first dean of students.
“If not for his thoughtful intervention, I might not have graduated,” Brooks concedes. “Dean Kauffman was my inspiration, and the catalyst, for my subsequent pursuit of a career as a higher education student-affairs administrator, so I could do for other students what Dean Kauffman did for me.”
Brooks’ career in academic administration began in 1964, after he earned a master’s degree in student personnel services in higher education (and principles of psychodiagnosis) from Boston University’s Graduate School of Education. In the interim, he served as secretary for protocol and special events to Massachusetts Gov. Foster Furcolo.
For 37 years (1964-2001), Brooks worked at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the state university’s flagship campus, where he served as associate dean of students; assistant director and acting dean of admissions; and, for the last 10 years until his retirement in 2001, director of visitor relations, a role in which he was responsible for the Visitors Center and was commencement coordinator.
In recognition of the central role that Brandeis has played in his life, Brooks has been a generous, consistent supporter of his alma mater. He makes a gift to The Brandeis Fund every year and established a charitable gift annuity in 2010 in memory of his parents. This year he made another major gift, this one for his 60th Reunion.
“Brandeis is virtually part of my DNA, having been associated with the University in various roles and capacities for more than 60 years!” he says. “Providing financial support is a tangible way I can express my appreciation for these opportunities, as well as showing my respect for the institution, its significance and meaningful impact.”
He was elected to the Board of Fellows by the trustees in 2012, previously serving as a member of the President’s Council (appointed by founding President Abram Sachar). He is also a member of the Alumni Admissions Council and the Sachar Legacy Society, and has been an active member of the alumni community for more than 50 years. He served as an Alumni Association board member-at-large from 1973-75 and 1990-93, and was president of the Alumni Club of Greater Boston from 1964-66. He has been on a number of Reunion committees and helped organize numerous Brandeis Nights at Pops events. From 1960-62, he was assistant to the dean of university resources at Brandeis.
With his 60 years of knowledge and perspective about Brandeis, Brooks now serves as an unofficial oral historian, frequently providing background information and insights about the so-called early decades to University archivists, staff and others. He especially enjoys familiarizing new and young staff about Brandeis’ early years.
He has donated more than 100 pieces of Brandeis and Brandeis-related memorabilia to the University Archives & Special Collections Department, including a rare course catalog from 1948, as well as course material from charter faculty members Max Lerner and Abraham Maslow. He has also given more than 40 items connected to early faculty member Leonard Bernstein, for whom Brooks worked at Tanglewood in 1956.
“Robin’s devotion to Brandeis is remarkable,” says Myles Weisenberg ’78, vice president of development. “He cares deeply about the University and ensuring that today’s students benefit from the same personal educational experience that he enjoyed.”