Brandeis Alumni, Family and Friends

Brandeis Welcomes Two New Trustees

October 30, 2023

One has been described as “the foreign minister of the Jewish people;” the other served as the first Black commanding officer of the USS Constitution.

David Harris, the 2005 parent of a Brandeis graduate and a 2022 recipient of an honorary degree, and Lewin Wright, a 1984 Brandeis graduate, appear as the two newly elected members of the Board of Trustees.
David Harris, P’05, H’22, left, and Lewin Wright ’84, right, are the newest elected members to Brandeis' Board of Trustees.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of David Harris and Lewin Wright.

Brandeis University is pleased to announce that David Harris, P ’05, H’22, former CEO of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), and Lewin Wright ’84, the first Black commanding officer of the USS Constitution, have been elected to the Board of Trustees.

Harris helmed the AJC, an advocacy organization dedicated to the well-being of the Jewish community worldwide, for more than 30 years. During his tenure, he led the organization on matters of foreign policy, national security, interfaith relations, and higher education. Given his influence on the global stage, the late Israeli president and Nobel laureate Shimon Peres once described Harris as “the foreign minister of the Jewish people.”

Wright, who majored in computer science at Brandeis, was commissioned a Naval officer in 1985, worked his way up the ranks, and assumed command of the USS Constitution – the world's oldest commissioned naval warship still afloat known famously as “Old Ironsides” – in the summer of 2003. He has served on the staffs of the Chief of Naval Operations and the Secretary of Defense. Over the years, he has stayed close with Brandeis, serving on the Alumni Board from 2007 to 2010. 

“I am delighted to welcome David and Lewin to the Brandeis Board of Trustees,” said President Ron Liebowitz. “Both of these individuals have ascended to leadership positions at the highest levels of their fields. We are grateful that they are so committed to Brandeis, and I have no doubt that they will be valuable partners in setting a strong future for our university.”

“The Board is thrilled to welcome David and Lewin to join us in our critical work for Brandeis. Each one brings a wealth of experience, an understanding of complex organizations, and a true affinity for the mission of Brandeis." - Lisa R. Kranc ’75, Chair of the Board.

Harris has received four honorary doctorates, including from Brandeis, and has spoken at a number of universities around the world. Among his three children, one is a Brandeis alumnus: Michael Harris ’05. 

“Brandeis is unique in higher education in that it was founded by the American Jewish community. Thus it is uniquely poised to lead on matters of importance to the Jewish community, including the fight against rising antisemitism, at home and abroad,” said Harris. “I am excited about the university’s commitment to these issues, and I look forward to helping advance this work in whatever ways I can.” 

Wright earned a Masters of Business Administration from Benedictine College. He also studied at the National Defense University where he earned a Masters of Science in national security strategy. 

“I learned so much as a student at Brandeis. It’s a true honor to have served on the Alumni Board, and I am equally thrilled to serve now as a Trustee,” said Wright. “I believe the university’s future is bright. As a computer science graduate, I am personally excited about the university’s commitments to growing the number of academic and research opportunities available to students pursuing scientific work.” 

In July, longtime volunteer and attorney Amy Cohen ’85, also began her term as president of the Alumni Association, joining the Board as an ex-officio member. 

- David Eisenberg