Thursday, February 05, 2009

Brandeis won’t close Rose?

Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz just sent out an e-mail appearing to back off from selling off the irreplaceable collection of the Waltham university’s Rose Art Museum – or at least from planning to sell it all off immediately. And adding that “The Museum will remain open, but in accordance with the Board's vote, it will be more fully integrated into the University's central educational mission.”

I’ve pasted in the entire e-mail below.

Reinharz has been backpedaling for a week now. But I'm not sure how much this announcement actually changes things on the ground.

I don’t think Brandeis leaders ever said they were going to sell all the art right away. This implies that now they'll probably only sell some of the collection. But it doesn't actually take selling all the collection off the table. There are doubts that they could sell all the collection anyway. It includes lots of minor works. They were probably always -- and still -- focused on selling the greatest hits.

And the first way they described closing the Rose was that they'd turn it into some sort of “fine arts teaching center with studio space and an exhibition gallery.” This sounds like a very similar plan, but explained more clearly (i.e. we'll keep some of the Rose art in the art center), and with more sensitive semantics (we'll still call it the Rose, or at least "the Museum"). [Update: The plan for the Rose building sounds suspiciously like a plan that fell apart in September for a Brandeis art center.]

Reinharz compares himself to Obama, saying “To quote President Obama, ‘I screwed up.’” This is outright offensive – besides being an inaccurate analogy. It's not like Obama admitted screwing up when he announced plans to close all the national parks and sell them off. He said he screwed up because he proposed one bum personnel appointment.

Reinharz comparing himself to Obama feels more like Blagojevich comparing himself to Gandhi. It just confirms that he's a schmuck.

* * * * * *

Reinharz’s entire e-mail:

From: Jehuda Reinharz
Date: Thu, Feb 5, 2009 at 4:05 PM
Subject: Message from Jehuda Reinharz
To: entire campus

Dear Members of the Brandeis community:

The past ten days have been extremely difficult for all of us. I have
heard from many of you and listened carefully to your criticisms and
constructive suggestions. I have read every message on the faculty
list serve, and the thoughtful letter sent to me by a group of faculty
last night. I have also heard from students, staff, alumni, university
presidents and complete strangers about my statements regarding the
vote by the Board of Trustees concerning the Rose Art Museum.

In retrospect, I wish I had handled the initial statements I made in a
far more direct way. Unfortunately, those statements did not
accurately reflect the Board's decision authorizing the administration
to conduct "an orderly sale or other disposition of works from the
university's collection." The statements gave the misleading
impression that we were selling the entire collection immediately,
which is not true. The University may have the option, subject to
applicable legal requirements and procedures, to sell some artworks if
necessary, but I assure you that other options will also be
considered. The Museum will remain open, but in accordance with the
Board's vote, it will be more fully integrated into the University's
central educational mission. We will meet with all affected
University constituencies to explore together how this can best be

I regret as well that I did not find a more inclusive and open way to
engage the Brandeis community in the deliberations that led to the
Board's decision.

I take full responsibility for causing pain and embarrassment in both
of these matters. To quote President Obama, "I screwed up."

Having learned from this experience, I will do my best, as will the
entire administration, to work together with all of you in a
collaborative manner. We must cooperate as we move forward to confront
our financial crisis. But we also have to take bold steps. Obviously,
we have many tasks ahead of us regarding the curriculum and the

In meetings with members of the faculty and with students in the past
few days, I have been heartened by the enormous reservoir of good
will, imagination and willingness to work hard to guarantee that
Brandeis will continue to thrive as a first-rate institution of higher


Jehuda Reinharz


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Colleges used to fill their boards (and the board chair) with leaders, now it fills them with money people. Money people put money above the rest.

What's so offensive about this board-initiated liquidation of Rose, is that Rose is a self-sufficient organization that takes only heating from Brandeis.

It was built with private donations and its operates on its own revenues and contributions.

That said, the STUPIDEST thing about the proposed auction is that Brandeis would alienate its wealthiest donors by selling off the art they love and gave to the Rose because they love Brandeis.

Sell the art and then ask them for more money. ha ha ha. The guys is not only a turd, he's a moron.

February 6, 2009 at 2:00 AM  

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