June 29, 2017
Dear Members of the Tufts Community,
This academic year was full of opportunity and achievements across the university. Our students, faculty and staff demonstrated in myriad ways the talents and commitment that make Tufts a unique environment for learning, research and active citizenship.
A sampling of the activities across the university this spring gives some sense of the vibrancy of our academic community. We welcomed distinguished speakers including Marian Wright Edelman and Governor Charlie Baker, and we honored the late Professor Gerald R. Gill during the African American Freedom Trail Symposium. Annual events ranging from the $100k New Ventures Business Plan Competition and Bates-Andrew Day to the Cyclorama Show and the Presidential Awards for Civic Life demonstrated the diversity and depth of talent, research, innovation and commitment to service of students across the university. Our athletics teams finished the year with a best-ever third place in the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup. And Tufts faculty and students continued to make their mark internationally too; as Steering Committee Chair, I was honored to welcome colleagues from around the world to Veracruz, Mexico, for the fourth global conference of the Talloires Network, whose base at Tufts reflects our leading role in university civic engagement.
We continued to advance the academic priorities outlined in our university-wide T10 Strategic Plan. In February, the Cummings School released its 2020 Strategic Plan, to support its mission of healing animals, helping people and transforming global health. Research and innovation are thriving across Tufts. This year the university received 38 research grants greater than $1 million, which combined with the more than 500 other sponsored awards received in FY17 have a tremendous impact on local and global communities through applied and basic projects. In an effort to support, identify and pursue emerging research areas, Simin Meydani, Vice Provost for Research, has begun a strategic planning effort focused on Tufts’ research and scholarship enterprise. The effort is designed to engage stakeholders, build on the strategic plans and strengths of individual schools, identify priorities, and take full advantage of Tufts’ excellence and emerging opportunities. I encourage you to offer your input to the research and scholarship strategic plan.
We continue to focus on identifying and supporting cross-school initiatives. In September, we will welcome our newest Bridge Professor, Dr. Susan Landau; her dual appointment in the Department of Computer Science in the School of Engineering and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy focuses on the technical and policy areas related to cybersecurity. We are taking the next steps toward the creation of a Data-Intensive Studies Center (DISC) to foster education, training, and research in statistics, computational science, and data science across Tufts. DISC will ensure that our students and faculty can play leading roles in many fields in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities that depend increasingly on applied data science. As partner in these and other cross-school initiatives, a university-wide faculty senate was formed. The group was elected by the faculty of each of our schools, and held its first meeting in April.
Creating state-of-the-art facilities consistent with our strategic goals is essential to our continued success. In Grafton, the renovation and expansion of the Henry and Lois Foster Hospital for Small Animals is already benefiting patients and the veterinary faculty, interns, residents, staff, and students who provide care. On the Medford/Somerville campus, the Science and Engineering Complex (SEC) was completed earlier this month, adding to the vibrant Tufts Science and Technology Corridor. Projects reflecting the university’s commitment to sustainability also moved forward: new solar installations in Grafton are now operational and cogeneration operations will begin later this summer at the Central Energy Plant on the Medford/Somerville campus. Tufts plays a crucial role in helping tackle climate change, and this spring I joined the presidents of other universities as well as governors, mayors and business leaders around the U.S. in signing the Grand Coalition Statement on the Paris Agreement, reaffirming our commitment to action.
We are committed to enhancing the Tufts experience for all members of our community. This semester, the Student Life Review Committee conducted an assessment of the culture of undergraduate student life at Tufts and offered recommendations for enhancing residential and social life in ways that will support our students’ well-being, personal growth, and sense of community. I look forward to community discussion of the Committee’s full report this fall so that we can act collaboratively on its recommendations. The university-wide Task Force on Student Mental Health began its review and assessment of student mental health among undergraduate and graduate and professional students.
Tufts has long upheld the importance of a global perspective. We are monitoring the evolving immigration landscape and supporting our valued international students, faculty and staff. We have also continued to support our DACA and undocumented students, and are pleased to see the Administration in Washington recently announced its intention not to terminate the DACA program, which has benefited thousands of students across the country.
The high point of the academic year came on an especially beautiful Commencement day, when the university awarded more than 3500 undergraduate and graduate degrees and bestowed emeritus status on a number of long-time Tufts faculty including Sol Gittleman, the Alice and Nathan Gantcher University Professor and former provost. In his Commencement address, Kenya Barris urged graduates to remain true to themselves. We were also glad to welcome back to campus thousands of alumni for a series of outstanding reunion programs. The engagement of our graduates around the world is enormously important to the university’s current success and momentum.
I hope all of you are finding the summer an opportunity to reflect on a productive year, to recharge with family and friends, and to plan for another year of accomplishment ahead.