Jehuda Reinharz: The Jackass In The Living Room

Ex-Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz

Ex-Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz

Almost ten years ago I received a thick blue envelope from Brandeis University signifying that my underachieving high school ass had by some miracle (cough cough LEGACY) been admitted to the Class of 2008. Brandeis was my first choice, and I would be the third member of my family to go to the school. To say that I throughly enjoy my four years there would be an understatement. Between meeting my best friends,  having my entire social consciousness overhauled, and trolling Alan Dershowitz, it is fair to say that I received my money’s worth.

My pride for the school persisted beyond Waltham as well. During my term abroad in Dakar, Senegal, people stopped me when I wore my Brandeis t-shirt to tell me about the great programs that they had for international students. After I graduated four more members of my family enrolled in the school, including two current juniors. My wedding in 2010 was almost entirely made up of Brandeis grads (which made for an awkward scene at communion in the Episcopal church).

But while I love my alma mater, there was something amiss in the institution, or more precisely someone. Then President Jehuda Reinharz was a persistently awful manager and human being during my tenure at Brandeis, so much so that I vowed never to give any money to the school until he was fired. His sins included (to name a few)

  • Snubbing Jimmy Carter (he panicked when I confronted him about it)
  • Removing artwork by Palestinian Children depicting their experiences with the occupation
  • Hiring Tom fucking Friedman to teach a course about how awesome Tom Friedman is
  • Being the worst customer in all of Brandeis dining services. His favorite thing to do was order all the food on the menu on his corporate card, eat nothing, and then bring it all home. AND HE NEVER FUCKING TIPPED.

When he stepped down in 2010 I conceivably could have resumed donating, if not for my rather glaring lack of money. Today I’m glad I didn’t. As it turns out ye olde Jehuda is still collecting checks so big that would make Jimmy Swaggart feel guilty;

When Brandeis University president Jehuda Reinharz stepped down three years ago, he moved back into his old faculty office.

But unlike most history professors, Reinharz does not teach any classes, supervise graduate students, or attend departmental meetings. He did not bother posing for the department photo. The chairwoman for Near Eastern and Judaic Studies said she did not even know whether he was officially a member of her department.

Yet Reinharz remains one of the highest paid people on campus.

He received more than $600,000 in salary and benefits in 2011, second only to the new Brandeis president, according to the school’s most recent public tax returns. And that’s on top of the $800,000 Reinharz earned in his new job as president of the Mandel Foundation, a longtime Brandeis benefactor.

“There is puzzlement from faculty about why he gets paid at all” by Brandeis, said Gordon Fellman, a sociology professor at Brandeis. “His term as president ended.”

Good fucking question Gordy.

For some context Reinharz first got into some trouble NOT for his persistent disregard for student life and blatant hatred for the faculty. Rather Jehuda’s fall from grace began in 2009 when  his “prolific fundraising” career of “asking the same two Bernie Maddoff victims for money” turned out to be terribly misguided. That then led to Reinharz’s brilliant idea of raising money by disposing the contents of the University’s Art Museum at the pawn shop, something that a) exposed Brandeis to massive civil liability from the art donors who gave the pieces in good faith, and b) made us a fucking laughingstock across the country. So needless to say that it was less then surprising when Reinharz decided it was time to end his career as President the next year.

But if anything about the lives of the rich, powerful, and stupid have taught us in the new millennium, it is that the 1% can only fail upwards:

Some Brandeis officials defend the deal with Reinharz, saying it was crucial to retain his expertise to help with the transition to a new president who had not previously worked at Brandeis. They also wanted his help to maintain relations with major donors.

“He knows how to raise money,” said Jack Connors, who was vice chairman of the board when it signed an agreement to keep paying Reinharz after he stepped down….

“I am compensated according to my accomplishments,” said Reinharz in an interview at his Brandeis office. “It’s the way America usually works.”

Goddamn right it is Jeuhda, man of the people. So what is it that you do exactly?

“I don’t punch a clock,” said Reinharz, adding that his main job is to help the 92-year-old chairman, Morton Mandel. “I work when my work is needed.”

Reinharz was equally noncommittal about how much time he devotes to Brandeis, where he mainly works as an adviser to president Frederick Lawrence and other staffers. “I’ve never worked at Brandeis by the hour,” he said. Lawrence “asks for advice. I give it. And I don’t look at my watch.”

However, Reinharz confirmed that he spent the entire first year of Lawrence’s presidency on sabbatical, when presumably his advice would have been needed the most.

Must be nice. How much are you making exactly through this “unprecedented” deal where you are  “half time professor” and head of this Mandel Center thing where to talk with an old ass man all day?

He received more than $600,000 in salary and benefits in 2011, second only to the new Brandeis president, according to the school’s most recent public tax returns. And that’s on top of the $800,000 Reinharz earned in his new job as president of the Mandel Foundation, a longtime Brandeis benefactor….

The foundation, which pays for half of Reinharz’s office expenses, did not make it easy for the public to discover Reinharz’s pay, listing him as an unpaid board member on forms filed with the IRS, while staff said his compensation was confidential.But reports filed by three related Mandel family foundations suggest he earned a total of $800,000 in consulting fees in 2011, more than double what chief executives of similar-sized grantmaking organizations normally earn.

HOLY FUCK MAN. Well I guess living in Taxachusettes is pretty expensive all with the Romneycare and all. Your mortgage alone must be unbelievable right Jehuda?

The university also let him remain in the Brandeis president’s spacious home in Newton for six months after he stepped down.

And Reinharz could have earned even more if Brandeis had not clarified the agreement in 2012 to limit him to half time as president emeritus after 2011. Otherwise, Reinharz could have reported working full time in the position and collected $575,000 a year.

Well going to law school to balance my unpaid internships with $15 per hour jobs was obviously a big mistake on my part. I guess I should have followed the path of Reinharz and just followed my passion of grifting money from suckers and writing books about donkeys:

The one area where Reinharz was specific about how he spends his time was his own research, including a book he is co-writing on the history of the donkey in literature, arguing that the animal is often used as a substitute for people.

“There are smart donkeys, stupid donkeys, evil donkeys, etc., and no one has ever contemplated this on a large scale,” said Reinharz, who commissioned an artist to make a wood carving of a donkey that stands proudly on his desk. “It’s probably the most ambitious topic I have ever contemplated.”

That last sentence is entirely accurate.

In all seriousness this is downright disgusting. The official explanation that the school has issued since the release of this article is incomplete at best, if not deliberately obtuse. To say that Reinharz’s compensation package was justified due to the insanity of other institutions in granting these golden parachutes makes no sense. A tenured faculty member does have some leverage when they are asked to leave by the board- in that they can’t be entirely forced out of the institution. However nothing prevents the board from fulfilling their main fiduciary duty of care to the school when negotiating the salary and role of an ex-adminstrator who is returning to the faculty. To  literally write a a blank check to the man who torpedoed the endowment of the school so he can satisfy his late in life donkey fetish demonstrates an amazing disregard for the faculty, staff, students, and alumni of the university I love.

The alumni I know are beyond pissed off right now. If Jehuda was a lawyer who was provided this amount of money with only “services rendered” on the invoice he would be disbarred, and the board that hired him would be dismissed. Unless a full and detailed accounting of Reinharz’s duties, schedule, and expenses is released, this controversy should serve as sign to all future applicants to Brandeis that the institution is not to be trusted with their tuition.

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About stefanbc

I am a graduate of Brandeis University with a double major in History and African/African American Studies, and of Whittier Law School where I specialized in Children's Rights and issues relating to Poverty Law. I live in Long Beach California with my wife and four pets. View all posts by stefanbc

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