The academic year has gotten off to a very positive start, and I know from many exchanges that you share my enthusiasm about the year ahead. As always, the arrival of exceptional students in all our Schools provides a source of new energy and excitement. Some of the newest members of our community have begun their Tufts experiences off campus thanks to the launch by Tisch College of the Tufts 1+4 Bridge Year Service Learning Program, whose participants are engaged in a year of full-time service before beginning their studies at Tufts. Activities and events on all three campuses are already demonstrating the excellence and innovation that distinguish Tufts: one early highlight for me was last week’s opening of the semester’s three excellent exhibitions at the Tufts University Art Gallery.
This year we will continue to make progress on key initiatives envisioned in our university-wide T10 strategic plan, including the Tufts Institute for Innovation (TII), which is searching for its first cluster of senior faculty hires; diversity and inclusion, where teams of faculty, staff, and students are refining and implementing strategic goals; Bridge Professorships, where the Fletcher and Friedman Schools are partnering on a senior hire in water security; and computational and data science approaches, where Tufts faculty are developing innovative approaches that will enhance university-wide research and teaching.
Since the fall of 2013 I have been chairing a university-wide Task Force on Sexual Misconduct Prevention. Recommendations from the Task Force have already been responsible for important new programs and resources across the university to address this critical issue. To help guide our further efforts, last spring the Task Force undertook a comprehensive university-wide survey of our students’ experiences. We will release a report on the findings of the Tufts Attitudes About Sexual Conduct survey shortly. I urge all of you to read that report when it is released, as this is an issue that profoundly affects the wellbeing of the entire university community. I am grateful to those students on all three campuses who took the time to respond to the survey.
Each summer gives us an opportunity to make progress on an array of construction and renovation projects intended to ensure that our facilities support our academic mission and meet the needs of our community. We completed the renovation of 574 Boston Avenue, on the Medford/Somerville campus, at the end of the spring, and over the summer a number of academic programs moved into what is now the Collaborative Learning and Innovation Complex, or CLIC. Richardson and Stratton Halls were renovated, while the rebuilding of the Memorial Stairs will be complete in November. Construction continued on the Central Energy Plant, which will reduce our carbon footprint when it enters service at the end of next summer, and the Science and Engineering Complex, which will be completed in the summer of 2017 along with associated work on Robinson Hall.
The planned extension of the MBTA’s Green Line to Medford offers exciting opportunities for the university community, and we continue our design for a new academic building to be constructed at the planned College Avenue station with generous support from William and Joyce Cummings through Cummings Foundation, Inc. In Grafton, work continued this summer on the renovation and expansion of the Foster Hospital for Small Animals. Efforts continue on renovating space in the Jaharis, Biomedical Research and Public Health and 75 Kneeland Street buildings to serve the needs of the Medical School and the Friedman School.
In 1990, Tufts President Jean Mayer convened university presidents from around the world to sign the Talloires Declaration, launching the international movement to incorporate sustainability into higher education. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of this historic Declaration, Tufts student groups, departments, and offices are hosting a wide-ranging series of events on climate change this fall.
Maintaining our momentum across the university depends on the continuing excellence of our academic and administrative leadership. This summer, we welcomed to the university Jianmin Qu as Dean of the School of Engineering and John Morris as Director of Athletics. Christine Sanni, previously Executive Director for Advancement Communications and Services, assumed her new role as our Vice President for Communications and Marketing.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Institute for Global Leadership, which has played an extraordinarily important role in the education of thousands of Tufts students. IGL’s founding Director, Sherman Teichman, will step down at the conclusion of this academic year and receive emeritus status. The Provost has launched a search for a successor who can carry on IGL’s tradition of providing students with transformational experiences and engaging the Tufts community with the most important global issues of our times.
The summer saw significant progress on the implementation of the TEAM initiatives to advance administrative effectiveness and ensure that our operations meet the needs of our faculty and students. At the beginning of August we launched the university’s new Budget Center. With a presence on all three campuses, the Budget Center will provide academic and administrative units with hands-on budgeting expertise and guidance to help inform strategic financial decisions. Work advanced on the development of the Research Administration Partnership, which is designed to provide consistent, high-quality support for faculty and will enhance training support and professional career paths for staff in research administration across the schools and in the Office of the Vice Provost for Research.
Our outside custodial contractor, DTZ, has now completed the restructuring of its services at Tufts that was begun in May. The goal throughout the process has been to minimize job losses and treat custodial staff with respect, while making needed adjustments to staffing levels and assignments. Through voluntary transfers to other DTZ sites, resignations, filling open positions at Tufts, and elimination of temporary positions, the number of needed layoffs was reduced in the end to four, and all of those laid off were offered permanent positions at other DTZ sites.
Careful stewardship of our financial resources must continue to be a priority. The university budget approved by the trustees for the fiscal year that ended in June had projected a deficit of $9.7 million. Fortunately, operating results improved over the course of the year due to new revenues as well as savings from TEAM and in salaries in the central administration and some of the Schools. We closed the year with a positive margin of $1.1 million. Our operating margin remains very constrained compared with the size of our overall budget and our institutional needs. Improving results over time is vital if we are to make needed programmatic and capital investments to support our academic mission.
As we look to make further progress toward our goals, we will also be calling on the many alumni, parents, and friends who are dedicated to Tufts. Their generous philanthropy spurred strong fundraising results last year, with a total of $108 million raised, up 18 percent from the prior year. The continuation of the Financial Aid Initiative helped us ensure that more than $30 million of that total was earmarked for student support. We are well positioned to make further progress this year in fundraising and planning for our upcoming comprehensive campaign.
I know that this will be another productive year for all of us, with significant progress on our shared goal of advancing Tufts’ academic mission.