It is a great pleasure to welcome you to the new academic year, one that I begin with an enormous sense of optimism and enthusiasm. While summer is traditionally an opportunity to recharge, I know that our students, faculty, and staff have also continued their important studies, research, and contributions to society in the months since Commencement, and we have made significant progress on academic and administrative initiatives that will strengthen Tufts for the years ahead.
In addition to our returning community members, the beginning of the year is a particularly special time to welcome brand new Jumbos to our family. During the week before Labor Day, I was honored to welcome the members of the undergraduate Class of 2018 at their Matriculation Ceremony, as well as the incoming students in a number of our graduate and professional schools.
It was also a pleasure to meet many of our exceptional new faculty from across the university at a reception hosted by the Provost. Tufts continues to be distinguished by its outstanding teacher-scholars. I know that the year ahead will see continued remarkable accomplishments in teaching, research, and scholarship across the university.
Among those returning to campus this year will be an old friend, when we unveil a new, life-sized bronze statue of Jumbo on the Academic Quad of the Medford/Somerville campus, adjacent to Barnum Hall. The installation of this donor-funded work of public art will mark the 125th anniversary of our renowned mascot’s first arrival on campus. The Tufts University Art Gallery is also celebrating the occasion with a stimulating exhibit on Jumbo: Marvel, Myth, and Mascot, which opens today.
This summer has been a particularly fruitful time for work on capital projects across our three campuses. Among the major maintenance projects on the Medford/Somerville campus was significant exterior restoration work on both Cousens Gymnasium and Carmichael Hall. Exterior work is now largely complete at the renovated 574 Boston Avenue site, which will open next May as the new Collaborative Learning and Innovation Complex. Work on utilities to support the planned Science and Engineering Complex is now underway and will continue to progress in carefully choreographed phases over approximately 10 months. Improvements to Spicer Field begin this fall, to be completed in time for our NCAA softball champions to return to the field this spring.
On our Boston Campus, upgrades were made to pre-clinical and clinical spaces at the School of Dental Medicine, and the final stage of exterior restoration of the Biomedical Research and Public Health Building was completed. At Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in Grafton, thanks in large part to the generosity of donors, the first phase of a comprehensive project to renovate both the Henry and Lois Foster Hospital for Small Animals and the Hospital for Large Animals is in progress.
Finally, work to extend the MBTA’s Green Line from Lechmere to Medford, with a stop at the intersection of Boston and College Avenues, is now underway at several locations. Discussions have begun on how we can best incorporate this important new gateway to the university.
Supporting our academic mission requires that we provide not only up-to-date facilities but also responsive administrative services. This December we will reach a milestone in the Tufts Effectiveness in Administrative Management (TEAM) initiative with the launch of Tufts Support Services (TSS), providing a simple, service-oriented approach to conducting many of the administrative human resources and finance tasks currently carried out by different groups across the university. Executive Vice President Patricia Campbell and I updated faculty and staff on plans for TSS in a message earlier this week.
As we begin a new academic year, it is important to remember that the safety and mutual respect of all members of our community must always be our first priority. The Task Force on Sexual Misconduct Prevention that I am chairing has been active over the summer and has recently released a progress report. We will continue to work with students, faculty, and staff to build a culture of respect, responsibility, and consent that will protect all members of our community.
Activities this summer highlighted Tufts’ continued commitment to addressing significant contemporary challenges, a cornerstone of the T10 Strategic Plan. At the end of last month, we formally launched the new Tufts Institute for Innovation, whose scientific innovations will be consciously coupled with strategies for implementing them to achieve significant impact in specific communities around the world. Earlier in the summer, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded the School of Arts and Sciences nearly $1.5 million to fund four Mellon Bridge Assistant Professorships in the humanities, supporting young scholars just beginning their cross-disciplinary research and teaching careers.
I look forward to the progress this year will bring in our strategic initiatives and the capital projects that support them, as well as to the achievements of our faculty and students, often working in close collaboration at the frontiers of knowledge. Over the course of the last three years, many Tufts alumni have said to me, “Tufts changed my life.” I believe that this year, we will continue our commitment to changing the lives of individuals and society for the better.