The addition of the $15 million Schusterman Center for Israel Studies once again solidifies Brandeis' standing at the forefront of Middle Eastern academia. Combined with the Crown Center for Middle East Studies, the Schusterman Center should bring in a variety of speakers, improve upon a strong Middle East academic program and add to the ever-important dialogue on an increasingly relevant region. Brandeis' strength in Middle Eastern studies is a great source of pride, and this center has the potential to help us transcend even our own standards-especially if the center strives to maintain balance and objectivity.
Inevitably, however, the highlighting of our Institution's strengths also sheds light on its weaknesses. While the University excels in Middle Eastern topics, it has become clearer that other regions of the world are under represented. As the Middle East makes up less than 10 percent of the world population, its studies constitute a disproportionate amount of courses and centers here. Where, for example, are our million-dollar centers for Africa, Eastern Asia or Latin America?
While it's important for Brandeis to have a strength, it's also important to not become pigeonholed. If Brandeis is to be a world-class university, then it needs strong research, courses and connections to all of the major regions of the world. Can we call ourselves a global university when we have only a handful of faculty devoted to the studies of India and China, which between them represent almost half of the world's population?
Attention to more regions of the world also has implications for our ability to attract students from around the United States. Just recently, Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Jean Eddy said that Brandeis needs to do a better job recruiting in the Southwest. Perhaps the best way to reach the Southwest is not to attend more high school fairs in New Mexico, but to improve upon our Latin American studies here in Waltham.
It's true that the University is taking steps to diversify. In the last two years, just under 20 percent of sought-after new faculty have been international-nine, to be exact. And it's also clear that the University is not spending all of its own money on the Middle East. The construction of the science complex, the Heller School and the new residential buildings have demonstrated the school's desire and ability to compete with our peer institutions.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with Brandeis accepting donations for one of its priorities. What really needs to be done, however, is to educate our donors about the many needs our university has. Perhaps the University should sponsor a seminar about the many facets of the school-outside of Middle Eastern studies-that are in constant need of aid.
Clearly, it's easier for Brandeis to get money for Jewish-based initiatives, but we also need to court donors who recognize that studying Asia, Africa and Latin America is a vital complement to our strengths in the Middle East. It's obvious that with a more diverse donor base comes a more diverse university.