Report on the February 2016 Meeting of the Board of Trustees

February 16, 2016

Dear Members of the Tufts Community,

The members of our Board of Trustees gathered under snowy skies on February 6–7 for their first meeting of 2016. Their meetings followed a full-day conference of the chairs of the university’s ten Boards of Advisors, which bring together alumni and friends engaged with each of our schools, our international activities, and our athletics program.

Enhancing the student experience was a recurring topic in the meetings of the Board and its committees. As part of its ongoing assessment of the successful implementation of the T10 strategic plan, on Friday the Academic Affairs Committee reviewed comprehensive recent survey data on the quality of the student experience for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students across all our Schools.

Recognizing the important role of housing in the student experience, the Provost is leading a Residential Strategy Working Group to assess directions for the undergraduate residential experience, in partnership with the Executive Vice President and the deans of the Schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering. The Board heard about the process and early findings of the Working Group in a plenary session on Friday, followed by a lunch with students to hear first-hand their perspectives on undergraduate housing on and off the Medford/Somerville campus.

Friday evening, the Board gathered for a dinner to recognize recently promoted and tenured members of the faculty. This dinner, a new tradition started last year, offers the trustees a chance to meet and congratulate extraordinary faculty from across our Schools. This year, former Mayor of Medford Michael McGlynn joined the dinner as a special guest. The week before, I had presented him with the university’s Presidential Medal; the dinner gave Board members their own chance to thank him for his 28 years of dedicated service to the community and partnership with Tufts.

Earlier in the week, the Buildings and Grounds Committee had reviewed plans for upcoming capital and deferred maintenance projects and facilities planning initiatives; those discussions continued on Friday in the Administration and Finance Committee, which also discussed the university’s budget planning for the coming fiscal year and the challenging financial and investment environments that are affecting all of higher education.

In its meeting Friday, the Committee for University Advancement heard reports on November’s successful “Lead It” Alumni Leadership Summit and on a recent survey of alumni, parents, and friends whose results will help drive strategies to enhance their engagement with Tufts.

During the Board’s regular business meeting on Saturday, I presented an update on major current university initiatives and activities highlighting plans for the School of the Museum of Fine Arts to become part of the School of Arts and Sciences. The trustees also heard an update from Dean Harris Berman and Executive Associate Dean Tom Malone on current academic and research activities at the Tufts University School of Medicine and the financial challenges facing the school and many of its peers.

This weekend marked the first Board meeting for recently elected trustee Steven E. Karol A76, A04P, A13P. On Saturday, the members of the Board recognized the passing of Dr. Allan Callow, who had a great impact as Chair of the university’s Board of Trustees and as a vascular surgeon at Tufts Medical Center. We are fortunate that our current trustees continue a longstanding tradition of engaged and effective Board governance.

Best wishes,

Tony Monaco