Fred Lawrence will be first Brandeis president to live in Waltham

Fred Lawrence will move to Waltham, becoming the first Brandeis president to live in the school’s host community.
Fred Lawrence will move to Waltham, becoming the first Brandeis president to live in the school’s host community.

Brandeis University president Fred Lawrence will move to Waltham in July — and will become the only Brandeis president to live in the same city as the campus, according to university records.

Lawrence and his wife, Kathy Lawrence, a professor in the university’s English department, will move this summer from their Cambridge apartment to a unit on the second floor of the Watch Factory, the historic renovated building on Crescent Street along the Charles River.

Lawrence will be the first of the eight Brandeis leaders to call Waltham home.


“Brandeis is a big part of this city and we’re excited about joining the Waltham community as residents,” he said in a prepared statement. “It will be more convenient for students, faculty, staff, trustees, and friends of the university to join us at our home. It is something we really enjoy, and this will allow us to do more of it.”

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With his new apartment sitting less than a mile from Brandeis, Lawrence said, he looks forward to walking between home and campus, especially on Shabbat, when Jewish Sabbath observers abstain from driving.

Mark Collins, senior vice president for administration, said the university will sign a three-year rental agreement for the apartment.

The unit includes two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a half bath, a study/office, and a great room, Collins said.

Lawrence told Brandeis trustees and administration officials that he wanted to live in Waltham, according to a university spokesman.


The factory was constructed by the Waltham Watch Co. over a span of 50 years, beginning in the 1860s. It includes 22 interconnected buildings and covers more than 400,000 square feet. The redevelopment includes a mix of commercial, residential, and retail space.

Brandeis Student Union president Herbie Rosen, a senior, said he thinks that Lawrence moving close to campus is a “neat idea.”

“He’ll be our neighbor in Waltham,” Rosen said. “Students will be a lot freer to go and visit the president. I think they’ll like it.”

Since arriving at Brandeis in fall 2010, the Lawrences have been living in the Cambridge apartment, rented for them by the university.

President emeritus Jehuda Reinharz and his wife lived in a university-owned home at 66 Beaumont Ave. in Newton for most of his 16-year tenure.


The board of trustees voted in March to sell the Beaumont Avenue property, and hold the proceeds while the university’s long-term housing needs for its president are determined. No timetable was set.

Hammond Residential in Chestnut Hill listed the house last week for $2.25 million. Newton has assessed the 35,000-square-foot property at $2.21 million.

Prior to Reinharz, the only other Brandeis president to reside at 66 Beaumont Ave. was the university’s first leader, Abram Sachar, who lived there during his presidency and subsequent chancellorship.

The home was built in 1910 and acquired by Brandeis in 1948.

It was sold in 1990 after the Sachars moved, then reacquired during the Reinharz presidency. Its famous visitors include Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Dalai Lama.

At one time Brandeis owned a house at 1395 Commonwealth Ave. in West Newton that was purchased from Carl Shapiro, a Brandeis donor and former trustee, in 1983. Evelyn Handler and Samuel Thier lived there during their presidencies.

The university sold the 28,860-square-foot house years ago.

Morris Abram and Charles Schottland resided in a university-owned home in Weston, while Marver Bernstein lived in his own house in the same town.

Though no Brandeis president has lived in Waltham, board of trustees minutes dating to the early 1980s show that the possibility of constructing a presidential home on campus had been discussed and left open.

Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jreiss.globe@gmail.com.
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