There is much to celebrate as this academic year comes to an end: the dynamism that marked the beginning of the year carried through the spring semester.
Faculty across the university continued to make exciting advances in teaching, research, and scholarship. The School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) will be fully integrated into the School of Arts and Sciences as of July 1; Nancy Bauer will serve as the Dean of the SMFA and ensure strong connections with our other arts programs and departments. The launch of the Mellon Sawyer Seminar in Comparative Global Humanities opened new interdisciplinary opportunities for the humanities. Discoveries and innovations from Tufts have a profound impact on society, and our researchers continued to engage with policymakers about the exciting work on our campuses, including Capitol Hill briefings on Alzheimer’s research and nutrition for older Americans.
The quality of our students and faculty continues to attract generous philanthropic support for teaching and research. A commitment from the Neubauer Family Foundation has made possible the launch of a new joint Ph.D. program between the School of Arts and Sciences Department of Economics and The Fletcher School, which will recruit its first cohort of students this year. In March, we celebrated a $10-million grant from the Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group to establish one of its two new Allen Discovery Centers, led by developmental biologist Michael Levin. And in April, we celebrated a $15 million gift from Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch, A76 to support the work of Tisch College. Tisch College has also been renamed the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life to more clearly convey its mission.
Student initiatives help define our vibrant university community. Outstanding efforts in citizenship and public service across all our schools were recognized at the Presidential Awards. The Tufts Debate Society brought home the national championship title for the first time in university history. This was also an exciting year for Tufts Athletics, and it was an especially proud moment when four-time NCAA 800 meter National Champion Mitchell Black, A16 became the first NESCAC athlete ever to receive the NCAA Byers Postgraduate Scholarship. Go Jumbos!
Throughout the spring, we welcomed guests from across the country and from around the world to the university—for events including the EPIIC International Symposium, the Climate Change Symposium, the Solomont Lecture with Congressman John Lewis, and the Murrow Forum with Anderson Cooper. Jumbos were also busy off campus at events such as the Tufts Financial Network in New York and Tufts Talks in New York, Boston and Washington, D.C. It was a special treat to welcome Hank Azaria, A87 back to campus to deliver the Commencement address, in which he encouraged graduates to be honest with themselves and trust their instincts.
We continue to make progress on enhancing the campus climate for all members of our community. The Sexual Misconduct Prevention Task Force released its Final Report in early May; a new Sexual Misconduct Prevention Steering Committee, which I will chair, will oversee initiatives that are specially tailored to build on the Task Force’s progress. This semester, we had important conversations on all our campuses about how we put into practice the university’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Chief Diversity Officer and Associate Provost Mark Brimhall-Vargas is at work on a year-end report to the community on the progress of our diversity initiatives. Comprehensive data and statistics on the diversity of the university community are now available on our Diversity and Inclusion website.
I know that many of you have taken part in efforts to reflect on the tragedy that took place in Orlando over the weekend, and to support those who have been affected by it. In this time of great loss, for the LGBTQ and Latinx communities and all of us, we recognize the impact this tragedy has had on so many. It is for this reason that we collectively stand together to support faculty, staff and students now and in the future. Tufts continues to be dedicated to fostering a community that values and supports diversity, equity, and inclusion—a community where those with different backgrounds, beliefs, and identities can thrive.
Capital projects and administrative initiatives to support faculty and student needs moved ahead on all of our three campuses. On the Medford/Somerville campus, construction on the Science and Engineering Complex and the Central Energy Plant is now well underway. We are already beginning to implement key recommendations of the Residential Strategies Working Group led by Provost Harris to assess housing and residential life for undergraduates on and off the campus. In Grafton, the renovation and expansion of the Foster Hospital for Small Animals is on track for a grand re-opening this fall. On the Boston campus, we anticipate moving ahead in the fall with a comprehensive renovation and expansion of the Gross Anatomy Lab to create a new state-of-the-art teaching space in the M&V Building.
Tufts has benefited in recent years from the efforts of many people dedicated to strengthening administrative management and efficiency. While the formal TEAM initiative will conclude at the end of FY16, we will continue to implement new systems and structures to enhance effectiveness and support students, faculty and staff, while also seeking to support academic innovation and develop new sources of revenue moving forward.
The spring offered many wonderful opportunities to recognize the dedicated service of Tufts’ faculty, administrators, and staff. In March, the Board of Trustees voted to rename South Hall in honor of Bernard W. Harleston, the first African American hired to a tenure-track position at Tufts, and a dedicated member of the Tufts community over the past six decades. Last week, the Schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering announced the outstanding appointment of Karen Richardson as the next Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Enrollment Management. She will succeed Lee Coffin, who was presented with the Provost’s Medal in recognition of 13 years of exceptional service.
Just as important as recruiting remarkable students is supporting them while they are at Tufts. This year will mark the conclusion of our four-year Financial Aid Initiative, which by June 30 will have added a total of some $90 million to endowed scholarship funds across the university. Our trustees and volunteer leaders are making strides on plans for our next comprehensive campaign, which will give alumni, parents, and friends new opportunities to support Tufts. We all owe our donors thanks for their contributions, which play a vital role in both our daily operations and our most exciting initiatives.
Thank you all for making this another successful and memorable year. I am excited by the opportunities we share to accelerate Tufts’ forward momentum.