Classmates and friends to honor Michael Guttenberg '89

Michael Guttenberg '89 (bottom row, left) during his days as a Brandeis student.

From serving as an EMT for the Brandeis Emergency Medical Corps (BEMCo) to saving lives as one of the heroic first responders on 9/11, Michael Guttenberg ’89 has always been a giver. Now, as he battles cancer, a group of his Brandeis classmates and friends is giving back. They have launched a fundraising initiative to purchase a bench in Guttenberg’s honor at the University, with any additional funds raised supporting training for BEMCo members.

Marc Pinkas ’88, who joined BEMCo at Guttenberg’s suggestion, recalls his generous nature. “Mike would frequently join me to help on a call even though he was not on duty, because that’s who he is: selfless and giving.” In addition to his work with BEMCo, Guttenberg volunteered as an EMT when he returned home to New York during school breaks.

“A friend told me the other day that she is so thankful for the ‘Mikes’ of the world,” says Pinkas. “Someone who would rush into a building, as Mike did on 9/11, when everyone else is rushing out.”

On the day of the infamous terrorist attacks, Guttenberg was serving as an emergency medical services fellow for the New York Fire Department. He worked 16-hour days to aid the injured and assist in the relief effort. He later served as medical director of the Center for Emergency Services and Clinical Preparedness for Northwell Health.

Guttenberg stayed in touch with his friends from Brandeis, even as his illness has progressed. “Recently, he came to celebrate my 50th birthday,” says Melissa Hafter ’89. “There he was, so sick and barely able to eat, schlepping two and a half hours. But he was there. He was chatty and funny and I loved that we had some time together.”

Through the fundraising initiative, Guttenberg’s friends aim to create a permanent tribute on campus to a man who has devoted his life to helping others.

“Mike is a mensch,” Hafter says. “He has a kind and generous soul, and he makes the world a better place.”

To make a gift in Guttenberg’s honor, visit Brandeis’ online giving site. Under “Designations,” select “Other” and type in “Michael Guttenberg honor.” For more information, contact Susan Wulf, P’21, senior associate director of annual giving, at 781-736-4045 or

Categories: Giving
Date: October 2, 2017