To Ellis Landau '65, investing in Brandeis is not a gamble
By David E. Nathan
One needs only to glance at the near-perfect Reunion attendance record of Ellis Landau ’65, P’91, to appreciate how little living most of his adult life thousands of miles away from campus has affected his relationship with Brandeis.
The retired businessman, who lived in Phoenix from 1969-90 and has been a resident of Las Vegas for the last 26 years, has attended eight Reunions; only his nephew’s bar mitzvah in 1980 and daughter Rachel’s (’91) wedding in 2005 have kept him from a perfect 10.
“I’ll never lose interest in Brandeis,” Landau says. “I will always care about the University and stay as involved as I can be.”
For his years of service to and support of Brandeis, Landau was recently elected to the Brandeis Board of Fellows.
Landau has not only attended Reunions, he has helped organize them as well, as a committee member. He also spent three years on the Alumni Association Board of Directors and, at the behest of friend and longtime Brandeis admissions director Michael Kalafatas ’65, founded the Alumni Admissions Council chapter in Phoenix.
Additionally, Landau has generously supported Brandeis through the years, and recently established the Ellis Landau ’65, P’91, and Yvette Landau Endowed Scholarship with his wife. They have included bequest language to support the fund after they die.
“I believe in giving back and feel fortunate to be in a position to do so,” Landau says. “I am pleased that I can help future generations of Brandeis students.”
At Brandeis, Landau majored in economics, but he might have learned even more outside the classroom, a welcome experience after an admittedly sheltered upbringing in suburban Philadelphia. At Brandeis, Landau built friendships with students from around the world, acquired an interest in the arts, frequently traveled into Boston in his 1955 Chevy Bel Air, played on the golf team, and served as manager for the men’s basketball team.
“Brandeis was such a broadening time for me,” he says. “Even though there were strong Northeast and Jewish influences, my college years were eye opening in a lot of ways. I learned to understand and appreciate points of view different from my own.”
Landau remembers Brandeis in the first half of the 1960s as being an activist campus consumed by the events happening around it, including the civil rights movement, the Cuban missile crisis and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in the fall of his junior year.
“I had just finished lunch and was walking to North, my dorm for all four years, when someone said, ‘The president has been shot,’ he recalls. “I had a little portable television in my room and everyone gathered to watch the news. We were all devastated.”
After graduating from Brandeis, Landau attended Columbia Business School; it was the start of a distinguished 40-year career in corporate finance. In 1969, he headed to Phoenix to take a job with U-Haul. Two years later, he joined Ramada, becoming treasurer in 1976. He moved to Las Vegas in 1990 to become chief financial officer at Boyd Gaming, which he helped grow from four casinos to 22. He retired in 2006.
“Brandeis has always been an important part of my life,” Landau says. “I think I’m one of the few alumni who can name all eight Brandeis presidents.”