January 31, 2014
Dear Tufts Students, Faculty, and Staff,
Welcome back for the spring semester, which is certain to be a busy and exciting time for all of us. Thanks to everyone in the Tufts community, we accomplished a great deal during the fall and laid the groundwork for further progress. I anticipate that this semester will be just as productive for students, faculty, and staff as we implement our strategic initiatives.
There is ample evidence of Tufts’ momentum in academic, research, and co-curricular activities on all three campuses. The university’s successful evaluation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges led to continued accreditation for another ten years thanks to the excellence of our faculty in carrying out our teaching and research mission. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) bestowed a 2013 Clinical and Translational Science Award to the Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), providing $24 million in federal funding to support CTSI’s work over the next five years, which is instrumental across all of our campuses and affiliated hospitals. Tufts alumnus Alan Solomont has assumed the deanship of the Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service and will lead students and faculty in our innovative approach to civic engagement. In addition, we completed important new community partnership agreements with our host cities of Medford and Somerville.
The fall was also marked by a range of exciting events from the very successful new Fall Gala on the Medford/Somerville campus, and the opening of the new Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, to the appearance by Supreme Court Justice Scalia as the last speaker in the Snyder Presidential Lecture series and a performance by Mandy Patinkin in the Granoff Music Center. We have had encouraging early success as we work to address alcohol abuse with an array of structured interventions, and I launched, and am chairing, a new task force to further strengthen our university-wide response to incidents of sexual misconduct. In November, LEAD IT—the first-ever Tufts Alumni Leadership Summit—assembled alumni representatives from across chapters and programs to share their experiences and learn more about Tufts’ plans and goals for the future. Our second Back to the Future symposium in New York was an over-subscribed event celebrating the work of our extraordinary faculty. And in January, it was an honor to become the first sitting Tufts President to travel to Japan, as part of a trip to Asia where I witnessed first-hand in Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul, and Tokyo the true stature and impact that Tufts carries around the world.
Progress on key initiatives throughout the fall semester firmly positioned the university for continued success. In November, Peter Dolan was elected to succeed James A. Stern as the Chairman of the Board, and our Trustees approved the T10 Strategic Plan along with the university’s revised mission and vision statements. The Strategic Plan frames the university’s priorities and will guide our decision-making in the years to come. The university-wide Council on Diversity that I chaired with Dean of Arts and Sciences Joanne Berger-Sweeney issued its final recommendations in December. Both efforts reflected tremendous participation and collaboration from across the Tufts community. Thank you to the faculty, students, and staff who dedicated so much of their time and effort, and to our Trustees for their input and engagement. T10 particularly benefited from the great commitment of Provost David Harris to an inclusive planning process. We are already moving ahead to launch key initiatives in the Strategic Plan and Diversity Council report, including the search for a Chief Diversity Officer and the searches for the first two bridge professors.
With significant activity already underway, this term will also see important progress on our Capital Plan and the Tufts Effectiveness in Administrative Management (TEAM) initiative. The five-year Capital Plan takes a comprehensive approach to the creation, renovation, and maintenance of capital projects across the university, ensuring that capital investment is assessed and coordinated through the lens of the Strategic Plan. In addition to predictable annual expenditures for equipment, recruitment, and smaller renovations, the Capital Plan provides for critical deferred maintenance across all three campuses, improved information technology networks and systems, and important academic projects. New facilities on the Medford/Somerville campus for the sciences and engineering and enhanced facilities for the sciences on the Boston campus are among the key academic projects in the plan. Highlights of the fall included the start of renovations at 574 Boston Avenue and planning for its use by programs in areas including Human Centered Engineering, Physics and Astronomy, Occupational Therapy, Community Health and Child Development, as well as the opening of the Bacow Sailing Pavilion.
The core mission of the TEAM initiative is to assure that we use our resources effectively, enhance administrative services, and moderate the rising cost of tuition in the context of a challenging economic environment. TEAM’s assessment of administrative processes across Tufts and comparison of best practices with peer institutions afforded us a comprehensive view of current policies, practices, and opportunities for improvement. With the completion of the assessment phases, we now have a much more detailed understanding of potential changes. Some changes are ready for implementation, but many will require further discussion and development. The TEAM Executive Committee, which I chair, has made it a priority to ensure that we continue discussion and deliberation with the community in the implementation phases. We recognize we must focus on the needs of faculty, students, and staff who rely on administrative services as we move ahead. At the same time, we are aware that changing long-established ways of working requires a thoughtful and consultative approach to be successful. Executive Vice President Patricia Campbell and I will release early next week a full progress report on TEAM, including an overview of current and anticipated projects and plans for involving the campus community as we move forward.
Looking forward, I envision another busy and productive semester for all of us. And, whether your focus at Tufts is on teaching, learning, research, or supporting the academic mission, thank you in advance for your continued involvement and investment in our collective success.