It gives me great pleasure to look ahead to another exciting academic year at Tufts. I appreciate the sense of great anticipation, and energy renewed, that fills our classrooms, offices, laboratories, clinics, performance spaces, and playing fields with the start of the semester. Surrounded by such vitality and spirit, I am reminded of how lucky those of us on campus are to live, work, and study together in this vibrant community.
Part of what makes the beginning of the year so special is reflecting on all the significant work that has been accomplished over the previous academic year and the summer. On our campuses and around the world, our students, faculty, and staff have continued to undertake the research, learning, and engagement activities that distinguish Tufts, and that will be shared with local and global colleagues in many ways. Summer also offers a unique opportunity for focused investment in our physical environment to ensure it supports out academic, clinical, and cocurricular activities to the highest standard throughout the year. As usual, after Commencement, Facilities Services got started on a series of infrastructure repairs, upgrades, and renovations. This summer, there were more than 60 projects underway on all three campuses.
On the Medford/Somerville campus, projects included the major conversion of 10,000 square feet in Halligan Hall into new classroom and office space, wholesale renovations of Cohen Auditorium, and, thanks to the generosity of many alumni and donors, the completion of the Lawrence S. Bacow and Adele Fleet Bacow Sailing Pavilion on Upper Mystic Lake. On the Boston campus, renovations are nearing completion in the Biomedical Research and Public Health Building to develop sophisticated laboratory facilities that will enable Tufts researchers to find new ways to detect, prevent, and treat serious infectious diseases, notably tuberculosis. In addition, plans have been developed and fundraising has begun for a landmark renovation and expansion of the Cummings School’s veterinary hospitals.
This summer also saw significant progress in our university-wide strategic planning process, Tufts: The Next Ten Years (T10). This important step forward reflects the research and recommendations of not only our strategic planning working groups and committees but also feedback from the Tufts community through numerous surveys, focus groups, town hall meetings, and other engagement sessions on all three campuses and with a variety of alumni groups. A draft of the plan will be shared with the Tufts community in the coming days, and the final strategic planning document will be presented to the Board of Trustees in November. I believe the final plan will bring together the best ideas from across our community and chart a course forward that lives up to our greatest expectations and aspiration for Tufts.
In order to facilitate engagement, we will continue to keep the community regularly updated on T10 and other strategic initiatives that we are advancing.
Since the end of the year, the council on Diversity has continued its deliberations and developed preliminary recommendations that will be released to the campus community later this month for discussion.
Following May’s release of the final report from the President’s Council on Campus Sustainability, work on implementing its recommendations is underway. This summer saw the completion of a high-level utility and energy master plan for the Medford/Somerville campus, and we are now beginning feasibility studies on various campus utility service upgrades. Programs to support university-wide energy and utility metering and building energy efficiency assessments are also in development.
The Tufts Effectiveness in Administrative Management (TEAM) initiative is also moving forward. The effort involves a partnering of all schools and functional areas in a shared commitment to administrative excellence in support of Tufts’ mission. TEAM Working Groups have been reviewing key administrative areas and redesigning business processes to achieve organizational efficiencies and cost savings.
Over the last few years, we have dedicated significant time and resources to addressing an important issue that challenges all our campuses as well as universities nationwide: sexual misconduct, especially sexual assault. We will be extending that effort this year with the establishment of a university-wide task force on sexual misconduct prevention. I will chair this task force: It is a priority for me to ensure that we follow through on our institutional commitment to the safety and wellbeing of our community.
Another significant development this summer, which will support TEAM efforts, was the appointment of Linda Cataldo as our Vice President for Human Resources. Linda has been centrally involved in enhancing human resources at Tufts over the past decade, both as a senior administrator and as a consultant. Last week, the Provost announced the appointment of Professor Kevin Dunn of the English Department to the open position of Associate Provost; in this role, he will focus on faculty affairs and academic policy issues. Looking ahead, this semester will also see a major transition in university governance as Peter Dolan (A78, A08P) succeeds James Stern (E72, A07P) as Chair of the Board of Trustees following the Board’s annual meeting in November. Peter is superbly qualified to take on this vital role, to which Jim has brought extraordinary commitment and in which he has become a model for higher education.
I wish all of the new students, faculty, and staff joining us this fall the best of success here. May your transition to Tufts be exciting and energizing. And I hope that the year ahead will prove to be productive for all the members of our community. I will continue to be in touch throughout the year as our strategic initiatives unfold and hope you will feel free to reach out to me with your questions, comments, and suggestions. I value the opportunity to discuss how we can work together to make Tufts the best it can be.