I hope that the spring term is off to a great start for all of you. The fall semester was certainly one of substantial achievement across the university. Our leadership in research and education was in evidence last fall when we celebrated the opening of the Allen Discovery Center, which is advancing breakthroughs in biology; the dedication of the Science and Engineering Complex, providing state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories to nurture innovation, collaboration, and discovery; and the completion of the Michael J. Anatomy Lab, providing outstanding new facilities to support the needs of our medical, physician assistant, and dental students in Boston. Students in the new Ph.D. program in economics and public policy offered by The Fletcher School and the Department of Economics in the School of Arts and Sciences have now completed their first semester of course work. And the Tufts University Prison Initiative at Tisch College taught its first undergraduate course at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution in Shirley, Massachusetts.
Academic initiatives to support teaching, scholarship, and research not only benefit Tufts’ exceptional students, faculty, and staff, but also our ability to have a global impact. A gift from the James S. McDonnell Family Foundation has made possible the launch of the Institute for Research on Learning and Instruction, which will enable Tufts to elevate its standing as a national leader in advancing the study of learning. Faculty across the university are recognized on the world stage with funding to support cutting-edge research and discovery such as the Grand Challenges Explorations from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
A university-wide task force of students, faculty, and staff is now at work on Bridging Differences, an initiative aimed at helping create and sustain a Tufts community whose members have the skills and commitment to engage constructively across lines of difference. Off-campus, we continue to make the case for higher education and research in legislative and policy arenas, and, on campus, to show support to international members of our community and our DACA and undocumented students. Members of the faculty and staff showed their dedication to the university and our local communities last fall through record-setting participation in the Tufts Community Appeal, supporting the Tufts Neighborhood Service Fund, a range of other charities, and financial aid at Tufts.
Supporting the student experience is fundamental to our mission as a student-centered research university. We are working now to implement the recommendations of the Student Life Review Committee to enhance undergraduate student life, while the Mental Health Task Force continues to make progress on its university-wide review and assessment of student mental health, wellness, and holistic engagement. One leader in our community who is particularly distinguished for commitment to the spiritual, personal, and intellectual development of young people is Rabbi Jeffrey A. Summit, the Neubauer Executive Director of Tufts Hillel; last week, we presented him with the Hosea Ballou Medal, awarded by the Board of Trustees in recognition of extraordinary service to Tufts.
We continue to make capital investments that advance our academic and co-curricular goals. Last month, we received approval from the Medford Zoning Board of Appeals to move forward with plans to provide additional residential options for juniors and seniors in wood-frame houses in the Hillside neighborhood.
Our accomplishments as a university reflect the commitment of alumni, parents, and friends. In November, we launched Brighter World: The Campaign for Tufts to enable our remarkable faculty and students to fulfill their aspirations and rise to meet the significant challenges of our time. To date, the campaign has already raised more than $620 million, of which $168 million is designated for financial aid. The annual Giving Tuesday initiative set new records this year, with more than 7,500 donors participating. Our most dedicated volunteer leaders are our trustees, and it was with great sadness that we learned of the passing in December of Nelson Gifford, a member of the Class of 1952. During his 17 years on the Board of Trustees, 11 of them as chair, he proved himself as a devoted leader and visionary during a period of transformation for the university.
The university’s academic and administrative leaders play a critical role in supporting Tufts’ mission. We welcomed Amy Freeman as Tufts’ new chief diversity officer and associate provost last fall, while Vice President for Operations Barbara Stein is now overseeing campus planning and construction, operations, public safety, and dining services on all our campuses. Our Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging will benefit from the leadership of Sarah Booth, whose appointment as director we announced yesterday. Earlier this week, President Emeritus Lawrence S. Bacow was named as the 29th president of Harvard University. During his time at Tufts, Larry exhibited superb leadership, and Harvard has made an outstanding choice.