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Donor Profile

For Jeffrey ’85, P’15 and Victoria ’15 Jonas, Brandeis is a family affair

Caption: Jeffrey ’85, P’15 and Victoria ’15 Jonas
By Deborah Fineblum, P '98, P '03, P '07

Brandeis has meant so much to Jeffrey Jonas ’85, P ’15 that over the years the school has benefitted from both his commitment and his generosity. But when daughter Victoria ’15 took her spot in the Class of 2015, Jonas’ feelings about the school – and his giving – suddenly took a more personal turn.

“Having her there has strengthened my interest in Brandeis and my willingness to give,” says Jonas, a bankruptcy lawyer who lives in Sudbury, Mass. “So many of my critical-thinking skills and best friends came from my Brandeis years, and her positive experience has reinforced and expanded my own.”

Despite her father’s enthusiasm about the school, the odds were initially against his daughter having the Brandeis experience. “Having gone to Gann Academy, my daughter was fairly opposed to spendinganother four years at a Jewish school in Waltham, Mass,” Jonas says. “(But in the end), “it just felt right to her.”

Now a sophomore, Victoria is certainly beating a different path than her dad did three decades earlier. Whereas his major was history, her passion lies in the fields of her double major:  psychology, and women’s and gender studies. She’s also working with a professor on a research project and engaged in an internship helping battered women.

“Most of the time we act like she’s away at school, but when we want to get together for the holidays, it’s great to have her so close to home,” says her dad. That home includes Victoria’s mom, Marcie, aantor at Temple Beth Shalom in Needham, and two high-school-aged brothers.

Whenever he swings by campus to pick up or drop off his daughter, Jonas can see how much has changed.  “The physical plant has grown,” he says, “but not the Brandeis feeling. Some of the same professors are even still there from my day.”

So when other parents say they feel their tuition check is their contribution to the school, Jonas strongly disagrees. “I don’t feel that way. I also want to help other kids have this opportunity that my daughter and I have had.”

Jonas attributes much of his professional success to his Brandeis education. He joined Boston-based Brown Rudnick straight out of Boston College Law School a quarter-century ago, and now helps run one of the country’s largest insolvency practices (recent clients include American Airlines).

“I absolutely credit a number of professors at Brandeis for teaching me how to approach any issue and problem even if it’s out of my own field,” he says.

So he wasn’t surprised when, at the parent orientation for new students last year, President Fred Lawrence mentioned that Brandeis has one of the highest rankings when it comes to alumni being able to remember the names of their professors.

In addition to his financial support, Jonas also contributes to Brandeis in another way. For the last five years he has hosted the Downtown Breakfast and Lunch Series at his firm’s offices at One Financial Center. Each semester, a faculty member gives a lunchtime talk on such intriguing topics as Mexican death rituals, the public obligations of the private media, the medicalization of society and causes of America's obesity epidemic.
Categories: Donor Profile, Giving
Date: January 21, 2013