Long inspired by Justice Brandeis, he ends up at Brandeis University

Chris Morris for The Boston Globe
Ira Jackson

As a kid growing up in a Jewish family in the Boston area, Ira Jackson was fascinated with the legacy of Louis Brandeis, the first Jewish justice on the US Supreme Court.

Now, in a way, Jackson will have his own opportunity to contribute to that legacy.

He joined Brandeis University, named after the famed judge, this week as senior vice president for communications and external relations following new president Ron Leibowitz’s decision to recruit Jackson from UMass Boston.


Jackson says he sees his job at Brandeis as being a “dot connector,” linking folks at the Waltham university with leaders at businesses, colleges, and nonprofits:

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“Part of my role would be to try to connect more directly some of the [Brandeis] centers of excellence with the many other great institutions that exist in Boston.”

To many in the business community, Jackson is best known for his 12 years in a top job at BankBoston, under CEOs Ira Stepanian and Chad Gifford. Jackson left the bank in 1999 for a career in academia, one that included stints at Harvard and MIT as well as out-of-state roles with Arizona State University and Claremont Graduate University.

He spent more than four years at UMass Boston and says his decision to join Brandeis had nothing to do with UMass Boston’s financial turmoil. “I’m sad to leave UMass Boston,” Jackson says, “where some of my heart will remain.”

Leibowitz praised Jackson in a memo to the Brandeis community, saying he “has energy and creativity, and a proven track record of working with complex organizations to achieve big things in a way that makes people feel good about being part of the change.” — JON CHESTO

Women’s modest gains


Some progress, but not enough.

That’s basically how the Boston Club, an organization of women leaders, summarizes its latest census tracking gender and racial diversity among nonprofits. According to the survey, 35 percent of board members at the state’s 150 largest nonprofits are women, unchanged from two years ago.

Interestingly, nonprofits led by men have a lower percentage of female board members than nonprofits led by women (33 percent instead of 41 percent).

Twenty-six percent of nonprofits surveyed have female chief executives, up from 23 percent in 2015 and 20 percent in 2013. Only 10 percent have CEOs of color.

“The bottom line is we’re disappointed,” says Beverly Brown, who chairs the club’s census committee.


While the modest gains in female CEOs indicate “steady progress,” she adds, “we hope the report encourages these nonprofits, as they hire CEOs, to consider minority candidates more seriously,” since they bring diverse skills and perspectives.

Nonprofits with the highest percentage of female board members include several colleges — Mount Holyoke (97 percent), Smith (90 percent), Simmons (84 percent), and Wellesley (82 percent) — as well as the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (78 percent).

Brown says the club will research why the numbers aren’t budging more quickly and continue coaching women on how to advance. — SACHA PFEIFFER

A degree in three years

Babson College president Kerry Healey noticed many of the school’s scholarship students had figured out ways to graduate in three years.

So Healey decided to make it official: Babson this week unveiled a program to help students land undergraduate degrees in an accelerated way.

Those with enough pre-college credits can get their diplomas within three years, and those who don’t have any pre-college credits can finish a semester early.

Healey says Babson is using the new program in its recruiting. Students “may choose Babson because we have this attractive pathway already outlined for them,” she says.

The goal is to save students money. A full year of tuition (excluding room and board) at the Wellesley business school is almost $50,000, although about half of Babson’s students get some financial aid.

Healey says the college worked to ensure three-year students would still be able to take advantage of the internships, close connections with professors, and study-abroad opportunities that are important elements of the Babson experience.

Other Boston-area schools offer three-year programs, including Newbury College, Lesley University, and Endicott College.

But Richard Doherty, president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universitiesin Massachusetts, says Babson’s program is unusual because of its focus on entrepreneurship and preparing students to quickly join the startup scene.

“It’s really a program that’s in sync with the brand of Boston,” Doherty says. — JON CHESTO

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