Reflections on the Academic Year 2013-2014

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June 26, 2014

Dear Members of the Tufts Community,

We are about to end another eventful and productive academic year at Tufts. Together, we accomplished an impressive amount, of which we should all be proud. The summer offers an opportunity to catch our breath and take stock of our collective achievements. These reflective moments also allow us a chance to recharge. As Anne-Marie Slaughter commented in her address at our 158th Commencement this past May, “Often you must slow down for your mind to speed up.”

During the spring semester, we made major strides in implementing the recommendations of the T10 strategic plan approved by the Board of Trustees in November. We announced the first two Bridge Professorships, in Water Security and Cognitive Science—important steps in advancing interdisciplinary learning and research. Tisch College announced the new Tufts 1+4 Bridge-Year Service Program, which will allow matriculating undergraduates to take advantage of a structured bridge year devoted to public service before beginning their four years at Tufts. The search for a Chief Diversity Officer is well underway, chaired by Associate Professor Keith Maddox, who will serve as Special Advisor to the Provost on Diversity and Inclusion until the Chief Diversity Officer is in place.

At the core of our accomplishments are Tufts’ faculty. This year, Gantcher University Professor Sol Gittleman—educator, mentor, leader and friend—turned 80, and marked five spirited decades of contributions to Tufts. We had occasion to celebrate notable academic accomplishments across the university. We congratulated Professor Diana Bianchi on election to the Institute of Medicine, Professor Maria Flytzani-Stephanopoulos on election to the National Academy of Engineering, and Professor David Walt on appointment as a University Professor. For their part, our students garnered honors including two Harry S. Truman Scholarships and two Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships. We graduated our first cohort of students in the BEST Program—Bridge to Engineering Success at Tufts—and marked the 50th anniversary of the Experimental College, a unique venue for educational innovation, expansion of the undergraduate curriculum, and faculty/student collaboration. This fall, the exceptional new students joining our university community will include the members of the undergraduate Class of 2018, the most selective in our history.

On July 1, we will be proud to welcome Dariush Mozaffarian as the new dean of the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and we thank Robin Kanarek for outstanding service as Dean ad interim. This spring, we congratulated Dean Joanne Berger-Sweeney of the School of Arts and Sciences on her appointment as President of Trinity College, and welcomed Jim Glaser as the School’s new Dean ad interim and Robert Cook as Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Looking ahead, Boris Hasselblatt will join the Provost’s team as Associate Provost upon his return from sabbatical, while Kevin Dunn has assumed the role of Vice Provost, with responsibilities that include academic affairs. Martha Pokras, who has a record of dedication to Tufts and its people, is providing outstanding leadership in Human Resources. And, in the wake of his passing in March, we continue to remember with gratitude Dr. Thomas Murnane’s 40 years of service to Tufts.

Our administrative efforts are focused on providing Tufts’ exceptional students and faculty with the physical, financial, and programmatic resources that make this a unique environment for teaching and learning, education and research. It has been tremendously heartening to see such strong support from alumni, parents, and friends to our Financial Aid Initiative, which has now raised more than $35 million across the university in support of endowed scholarships. Major milestones on our capital projects and planning include the renovation of 574 Boston Avenue and our plans for a new Science and Engineering Complex on the Medford/Somerville campus and a renovation of the Foster Hospital for Small Animals in Grafton. There has been great progress on sustainability initiatives across all three campuses, including solar installations and a new energy master plan for Medford. And we moved ahead on the TEAM initiative to improve administrative effectiveness, developing detailed plans for the implementation of new systems and improvements in our administrative processes.

We have already made significant progress in our efforts to prevent sexual misconduct at Tufts and are committed to doing still more: This is one of my highest priorities as president. The Task Force on Sexual Misconduct Prevention that I convened and am chairing is playing a central role in these efforts and will continue its work this summer. We will keep the community updated on our progress; in the meantime, comprehensive information about Tufts’ policies and resources regarding Title IX and sexual misconduct is available at the Office of Equal Opportunity’s website.

Over the year, our students, faculty, and staff continued to engage in an outstanding array of activities on and off campus, strengthening community within the university and giving us all cause for pride. In February, we enjoyed the Drama and Dance Department’s production of Rent and in March, we experienced the first Granoff All-Night Music Festival hosted by the Music Department. In April, Tufts again fielded the largest collegiate team in the running of the Boston Marathon—this year, an important moment of determination and resilience for the whole Boston area. Our varsity sports teams had an exceptional year, with our softball team taking their second-straight NCAA title in May, and our men’s lacrosse team earning their second title since 2010 in the same month. Earlier this month, delivering the Commencement address at Worcester Technical High School, President Barack Obama highlighted the veterinary clinic the school runs in partnership with the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.

Reflecting on a year of outstanding achievements reinforces my enthusiasm for what we can accomplish at Tufts in the year to come. I am excited to greet the possibilities before us, and I hope you are as well.

Best wishes,

Tony Monaco