The second half of the academic year is always busy as we gain momentum on initiatives and projects launched in the fall. Venturing into the spring semester, we should be proud of our accomplishments to date and build on that progress to move us forward.
The T10 Strategic Plan remains at the forefront of our efforts, and ongoing strategic planning in our Schools continues to play an important part in advancing our goals. At the heart of our accomplishments are our exceptional faculty and their dedication to Tufts. In November, alumni and friends gathered at Yankee Stadium to honor Sol Gittleman on the occasion of his 80th birthday and 50 years at Tufts. Sol has set an example that resonates with his colleagues. Earlier this week, Provost David Harris announced the appointment of James M. Glaser as Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. Jim, a member of the Department of Political Science since 1991, is ideally qualified to lead the School in the coming years, and I hope you join me in congratulating him on this well-deserved appointment.
This fall, we announced the eight sites in the United States and abroad that will host the first students in our 1+4 Bridge Year Service Learning Program next fall, offering them unique opportunities to advance innovative solutions to global challenges. The leading role played by Tufts in furthering active citizenship in higher education was also evident in December, when the Talloires Network brought together university leaders from around the world in Cape Town, South Africa, to discuss how our institutions can advance civic engagement and social responsibility. Our dental school’s extraordinary service to patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities will be recognized this spring with the William J. Gies Award for Outstanding Achievement by an Academic Dental Institution, presented under the auspices of the American Dental Education Association.
Across the university, our students remain for me a constant source of Jumbo Pride. In October, we congratulated senior Summer Morrill when she received the Astronaut Scholarship, perhaps the most distinguished award for undergraduate science and engineering students in the United States. Our men’s soccer team made history by winning the NCAA Division III national championship. And a highlight of the fall was the Department of Drama and Dance’s production of “From Orchids to Octopi: An Evolutionary Love Story,” tracing how art and science can both enlighten the human journey. Our Schools continue to develop innovative graduate and professional programs for future leaders: this fall the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine will enroll the first students in an exciting new master’s program in infectious disease and global health.
The active engagement of our alumni contributes greatly to Tufts’ strength, and in December we hosted the third annual Back to the Future symposium in New York City, showcasing the remarkable work of our faculty. This semester, Back to the Future will come to Boston and Washington, DC, for the first time. We continue to bring key figures in public and intellectual life to campus, and speakers this fall included Senator Elizabeth Warren and Boston’s new mayor, Marty Walsh. In March, Tisch College will bring to campus former Senator Scott Brown, a member of our Class of 1981. Commencement this May will give us a chance to honor extraordinary new graduates and hear from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, whose career has given her unique insight into the contemporary world and its challenges.
Those challenges include how to advance diversity and inclusion. This fall and winter, our faculty, students, and staff have engaged in meaningful ways in the urgent national conversation about race, equality, and justice, on and off campus. I encourage members of the community to take part in a university-wide forum on race, inequality, and action being organized by Provost Harris on the morning of Wednesday, February 25. Last week, the Provost announced the appointment of Mark Brimhall-Vargas to become Tufts’ Chief Diversity Officer and Associate Provost. Currently Deputy Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Maryland at College Park, Mark will lead us in advancing our institutional commitment to diversity, inclusion, and cultural competency by building bridges and fostering creative relationships across the university.
We continue our work to prevent sexual misconduct on campus and to ensure that the members of our community have access to resources to address these issues. Our Office of Equal Opportunity has engaged in extensive new training and education efforts across the university, working in partnership with staff in new positions recommended by the Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Misconduct. The dedicated students, faculty, and staff on the Task Force continue to assess our policies and procedures so that they can best meet the needs of the community.
I am proud of the open dialogue in which our community is engaged, on a range of difficult and sometimes contentious social and political issues. These discussions are an integral part of the transformational experience we seek for our students, as well as an essential reflection of academic freedom. We need to protect all points of view, no matter how unpopular or provocative, to advance our mission as an educational institution. As I indicated in a recent essay, when debate is stifled, everyone loses.
We have continued to make significant progress in the Tufts Effectiveness in Administrative Management (TEAM) initiative to support our academic mission. In December, we launched the new Tufts Support Services (TSS), providing faculty and staff with a new model and level of service for fundamental transactions in finance and human resources. We are moving ahead to further enhance our support for faculty research, our budgeting systems and processes, and our provision of information technology services, while the new procurement models we have introduced in recent years are delivering important savings to the university. Last month we welcomed our new Vice President for Human Resources, Julien Carter, who brings to Tufts broad experience in human resources for higher education and a demonstrated commitment to providing exceptional HR service.
The university continued to make important strides this fall toward ensuring that our facilities support our strategic initiatives and meet our sustainability objectives. On the Medford/Somerville campus, construction on the Collaborative Learning and Innovation Complex (CLIC), an inventive and collaborative space for multiple departments at 574 Boston Avenue, is on target for completion in late spring. Enabling work and detailed design for the planned Science and Engineering Complex (SEC), anticipated to open in 2017, is ongoing. We continue to develop plans to implement the recommendations of the energy master plan for the Medford/Somerville campus, and to collaborate closely with the MBTA on the project to extend the Green Line.
We are deeply grateful to the alumni, parents, and friends of Tufts who so generously support the work of our outstanding students and faculty. A significant foundation challenge gift and private donations have accelerated the campaign to renovate and expand the Henry and Lois Foster Hospital for Small Animals at the Cummings School in Grafton. The response to our Financial Aid Initiative, which is benefiting students across the university, continues to be inspiring: by the end of January, donors had already committed more than $17.5 million toward our new two-year goal of $50 million, beyond the $37 million raised in the previous two years.
I hope that you are all proud of Tufts’ achievements so far this year, and share my enthusiasm about what we will accomplish together this spring.