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11-03_lawrence_1Milton’s Jewish Student Union invited Frederick M. Lawrence, president of Brandeis University, to speak with students. Mr. Lawrence is one of the nation’s leading experts on civil rights, free expression and bias crimes. He discussed issues of belonging and identity with Class I, II and III students at Wednesday’s assembly in Wigg Hall.

Mr. Lawrence, a Milton parent (’02 and ’05), recently took office as the eighth president of the large research university with the “atmosphere of a small liberal arts college.” He discussed the unique history of Brandeis, which was established in 1948 in response to a time when many colleges and universities discriminated on the basis of sex, race and religion.

“Although it was an institution with deep roots in the Jewish community, the mission was to embrace students of all kinds by saying, ‘Others discriminate, we don’t; others won’t take you, we will.’”

Mr. Lawrence says that Brandeis today is a great place for students to explore who they are.

“Although it’s nice to think we are all alike, the reality is we are not all the same and our differences are important.” Mr. Lawrence answered questions students raised about his civil rights and hate crimes work. He also fondly recalled his experiences as a Milton parent.

Prior to Brandeis, Mr. Lawrence was dean and Robert Kramer Research Professor of Law at George Washington University Law School. He is a native of Long Island, New York, and received a bachelor’s degree in 1977 from Williams College and a law degree in 1980 from Yale Law School. After a clerkship with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, he was named an assistant U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York, where he became chief of the Civil Rights Unit.