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September 20, 2017

Dear Members of the Tufts Community,

We are delighted to announce that the James S. McDonnell Family Foundation is generously contributing $8 million to Tufts University to establish the Institute for Research on Learning and Instruction (IRLI) in the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering. IRLI will be a cross-disciplinary, cross-school enterprise focused on improving student learning outcomes at the collegiate level. It is a key element of the Teaching and Learning Engagements priority identified in the Tufts T10 Strategic Plan.

The Foundation’s gift will enable Tufts to elevate its standing as a national leader in advancing the study of learning. The university has faculty and educational programs that are already contributing to discipline-based education research and improving student learning outcomes, including the STEM Education program in the Department of Education, the Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT) and Center for Engineering Education and Outreach (CEEO).

IRLI will expand this work, establishing a new bridge professorship and recruiting two additional tenure-track faculty members in the Schools of Engineering and Arts and Sciences. IRLI also will help support the work of the faculty, including lecturers and research professors, as well as postdoctoral fellows and graduate students focused on education research.

IRLI’s research will provide scientifically validated teaching methodologies and innovative educational tools to boost learning outcomes at Tufts and beyond.  While its initial efforts at Tufts will focus on STEM fields, IRLI plans to expand to include faculty from across the humanities and social sciences in future years. IRLI will also inform teaching and learning across the other schools at Tufts.

Tufts has benefited previously from the support of the McDonnell Family Foundation. It has been a generous donor to the Tufts University Center for Engineering Education and Outreach, which focuses on integrating engineering into K-12 education and understanding how children and adults learn engineering.

We are deeply grateful to the McDonnell Family Foundation for supporting our shared goal of helping more students of varied learning styles and diverse personal backgrounds realize their full potential. Together, we will make exciting advances in understanding how we learn and teach, and how doing so more effectively can enable students to solve the most pressing challenges facing the world today.

Best wishes,

Tony Monaco
President, Tufts University

David Harris
Provost and Senior Vice President, Tufts University