Report on the November 2016 Board of Trustees Meeting

December 7, 2016

Dear Members of the Tufts Community,

The most recent regular meeting of the Board of Trustees and its committees took place on November 4–5 on the Grafton and Medford/Somerville campuses. Major topics for the trustees’ review and action included academic affairs, capital projects, budgets and financial planning, and communications and advancement.

A highlight of the weekend was the opportunity for the Board to tour the renovated and expanded Foster Hospital for Small Animals, and see the construction site for the new Equine Sports Medicine Arena, at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.  These facilities will help the School meet the burgeoning number of clients and patients attracted by its reputation for excellence in veterinary medicine, while providing unparalleled educational opportunities for our students.  Both of these projects have substantially been funded with donor gifts.

Planning for future capital projects to support faculty and students needs across the university was an important topic in meetings of both the Buildings and Grounds Committee and the Administration and Finance Committee.  The trustees formally authorized the university to move ahead with the long-overdue renovation and expansion of the Gross Anatomy Laboratory at the Medical School, made possible by a generous commitment from the Jaharis Family Foundation.  Continued investment in facilities that support academic and cocurricular priorities is critically important to our long-term success in attracting, supporting, and retaining the very best students and faculty.

The Board approved the establishment of a new university-wide Faculty Senate.  This new consultative body will partner with the central administration to provide input on university-wide issues that impact faculty.  The Faculty Senate will provide important opportunities to advance discussion of cross-School initiatives to advance the university’s academic mission.  It is expected to be launched next year.

The Administration and Finance Committee reviewed the university’s financial results for fiscal year 2016, which ended on June 30.  While there was a university-wide surplus, revenues remain constrained and budgets tight in most of the individual Schools.  The budget for the current fiscal year projects a smaller university-wide operating margin, driven in part by the desire to moderate tuition increases and the impact of a low-return investment environment.  Looking ahead, prudent spending and consistent operating margins will be needed to make investments in our educational and research programs and initiatives.

Support from alumni, parents, and friends is critical to Tufts’ maintaining its academic momentum, and the Committee for University Advancement dedicated a significant portion of its meeting time to the evolving plans for the university’s next comprehensive campaign, discussing issues including the role of annual giving, communications, and the recruitment and engagement of volunteer leadership.

On Friday, the Academic Affairs, Administration and Finance, and University Advancement committees all welcomed new representatives from the TCU Senate, the student bodies of the graduate and professional schools, the faculty, and our alumni. On Saturday, at the Board’s annual meeting, the trustees welcomed incoming Alumni Trustee Kahlan Taylor-Clark J99, MG01, and recognized the Board service of Jeffrey B. Kindler A77, A11P; Ellen J. Kullman E78, A12P; Ioannis M. Miaoulis E83, AG86, EG87, E12P, E15P; Kathleen M. O’Loughlin D81; and Andrew Safran, A76, F77, A09P, all of whom were elected Emeritus Trustees. The Board also elected three new trustees: Dina A. Al-Tayeb DG02, DG04; Michael A. Karsch A90, F91; and Ankur A. Sahu E91. We are fortunate to benefit from the commitment of our trustees, whose volunteer leadership sets an outstanding example for the university community.

Best wishes,

Tony Monaco