President Emeritus Lawrence S. Bacow served as the twelfth President of Tufts University from September 2001 through July 2011. During his ten years as President, he advanced the university’s role as a leader in teaching, research, and public service. Within Tufts, he championed academic excellence and placed a premium on open communication and close engagement with students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Nationally, he became well known as an advocate of broader access to higher education and the importance of need-based financial aid. Internationally, he played an important role in efforts to strengthen universities’ commitment to civic engagement.
Under Dr. Bacow’s leadership, Tufts built on its historic strengths to enhance the undergraduate experience, deepen graduate and professional education and research in critical fields, broaden international engagement, and foster active citizenship among members of the university community. He emphasized increased collaboration among Tufts’ eight schools and generated creativity and enthusiasm for interdisciplinary study.
Initiatives in undergraduate education and student life during Dr. Bacow’s tenure built on the recommendations of a comprehensive review completed in 2003, and he himself served as an advisor to first- and second-year undergraduates throughout his time at Tufts. He has long advocated for broadening access to higher education and the importance of need-based financial aid.
As President, Dr. Bacow was also committed to strengthening Tufts through effective outreach to alumni, parents, and friends, speaking to them with welcome candor about pressing priorities. During his tenure, Tufts benefited from unprecedented donor generosity and completed its historic Beyond Boundaries campaign, which raised $1.2 billion to support the university’s highest academic priorities. He strengthened relations between Tufts and its host communities, and the annual President’s Marathon Challenge he established in 2003 brought members of the Tufts community together to run and volunteer at the Boston Marathon.
A lawyer and economist whose research focuses on environmental policy, Dr. Bacow is an internationally recognized expert on non-adjudicatory approaches to the resolution of environmental disputes. Prior to coming to Tufts, he spent 24 years on the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he held the Lee and Geraldine Martin Professorship of Environmental Studies. He served as the elected Chair of the MIT Faculty and subsequently as Chancellor, one of the Institute’s two most senior academic officers. He has also held visiting professorships and research appointments at five universities abroad.
Dr. Bacow received his S.B. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, his J.D. from Harvard Law School, and his M.P.P. and Ph.D. from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. A Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he is the recipient of six honorary degrees.
After stepping down as President of Tufts after ten years of service, Dr. Bacow served for three years as President-in-Residence in the Higher Education Program at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. He is currently the Leader-in-Residence at the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard’s Kennedy School. He is a Senior Advisor to Ithaka S+R and was one of the authors of its major 2012 study of the barriers to the adoption of online learning systems in U.S. higher education. He is also a member of the Lincoln Project of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences to investigate the future of the public research university. In 2017 he was the Clark Kerr Lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley.
Dr. Bacow is a member of the Harvard Corporation where he chairs the university Finance Committee. He also serves on the boards of Liquidnet, Loews Corporation, Henry Schein, Inc. and TIAA-CREF.