Breaking: Reinharz to step down as Brandeis president

The president of Brandeis University, Jehuda Reinharz, will step down at the end of the year to head a major Jewish non-profit, he informed the school’s board of trustees Thursday.

"It is now time for me to enter the next chapter of my professional life," Reinharz wrote to the Brandeis Board. "I plan to continue to serve in the non-profit arena at the national and international level where I can address issues facing the Jewish community.  I have already been approached by two foundations to run their organizations at the conclusion of my time at Brandeis."

"I wanted to let you know that I have made the decision to step down from the presidency of Brandeis University.  I have reached the conclusion that now is the right time for me to focus on the next chapter of my career," he later wrote in an email addressed to the Brandeis Community. "I have notified the Board of Trustees and they have requested that I continue in my role for this upcoming academic year and stay on as president until a successor has been selected up until June 30, 2011 if necessary.  Following the completion of my term as President of Brandeis, I expect to be the president of a significant foundation, where I can address issues facing the Jewish community at the national and international level. "

Reinharz came under some fire this past year when the university decided to close its Rose Art Museum. But The Boston Globe reported early Friday morning that he was under no pressure to step down.

Reinharz dismissed suggestions that he is resigning under pressure arising from the museum controversy, saying he strongly considered stepping down in summer 2008 before signing a five-year contract extension. At 65, Reinharz said he felt the time had come to move on.

“This is not a decision I took lightly,’’ he said in an interview at his office yesterday afternoon. “I’ve poured a lot of sweat and blood into this place, which I love. But I think the time is right.’’

The chairman of Brandeis’ board of trustees, Malcolm Sherman, accepted the resignation.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I accept your letter of resignation with reluctance but with the understanding that you have thought long and hard about this decision.  As you know, we would have greatly preferred that you complete your term.  But we appreciate your willingness to continue leading Brandeis for this academic year and until a successor has been named.  We also understand that your commitment to stay on as President will not go beyond June 30, 2011. While at this time it is difficult to think about Brandeis in the absence of you as its visionary, we feel fortunate that you will hold the position of President Emeritus, working with the Board and Brandeis following your tenure as president.

There is no word yet on where Reinharz will land, but he was recently named to the advisory board of the Genesis Philanthropy Group, a fund started by several Russian Jewish oligarchs, which has become a major player in the Jewish philanthropic scene. 

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