Community Message on Diversity

December 5, 2013

Dear Members of the Tufts Community,

We are pleased to announce the release today of the final report of the Council on Diversity, whose recommendations reflect 18 months of thoughtful study and deliberation. This unprecedented university-wide effort has been informed by extensive conversations and input from across our three campuses. We encourage you to read more about the council’s work in Tufts Now.

The council has already helped shape a major piece of the university’s strategic plan, “Tufts: The Next 10 Years,” which the Board of Trustees approved in November. One of the plan’s four overarching themes calls for initiatives to engage and celebrate our commonalities and differences.

A plurality of perspectives is essential to the continued excellence of our academic mission and to the success of our graduates, who will live and work in a multicultural society. The council’s report provides us, as a community, with specific, actionable recommendations to achieve greater diversity among our student body, faculty, and staff and to make Tufts University more inclusive and welcoming to all.

Among the major recommendations is the hiring of a chief diversity officer, who will report to the provost and have a secondary reporting relationship to the executive vice president. Working in partnership with our academic and administrative leaders, the chief diversity officer will help guide the implementation of the council’s recommendations across Tufts.

Provost David Harris has already asked Nancy Wilson, currently dean ad interim of Tisch College, to chair a search committee that will include faculty, staff, and undergraduate and graduate students; the goal is to have a chief diversity officer on board by next fall. While the search is under way, Dean Wilson will work on the provost’s behalf with the schools and central operating divisions as they begin to develop strategies for implementing the council’s recommendations in their areas.

The report also highlights the ongoing need for financial aid resources to ensure that talented students, regardless of their background or means, have access to a Tufts education. It is not enough to enroll a diverse student body, however. We must make certain that all our students thrive here and have opportunities to participate fully in the Tufts experience. The report offers recommendations for new ways to recruit and support exceptional undergraduate, graduate, and professional students who traditionally have not applied to Tufts, and to strengthen the campus climate. It also offers a roadmap for success in increasing faculty and staff diversity.

We extend our deepest thanks to all the community members who offered their ideas and input. The members of the council and its three working groups showed tremendous dedication to Tufts. We are particularly grateful to the chairs of the working groups: Joyce Sackey, dean of multicultural affairs and global health at the School of Medicine and chair of the working group on the graduate and professional student experience; Sabrina Williams, director of human resources for the Boston and Grafton campuses and chair of the council’s administrative structures and policies working group; and Adriana Zavala, associate professor of art history and chair of the working group on the undergraduate student experience.

The responsibility for engendering a diverse and welcoming community lies with all of us. The council’s recommendations will help us advance these values as a community, and we look forward to working with you to achieve these shared goals.

Sincerely,

Tony Monaco
Chair, Council on Diversity

Joanne Berger-Sweeney
Vice Chair, Council on Diversity