In their regular May meetings, the Board of Trustees and its committees addressed a range of important issues and topics facing Tufts and higher education. As is our custom, these meetings were held in conjunction with the many Commencement and alumni reunion activities on campus. Our Board members welcome the opportunity to participate actively in these exciting and inspiring events, which mark the culmination of the academic year.
Tufts’ trustees are passionately committed to our academic mission and the university community. The Board heard updates on undergraduate admissions and student affairs from Dean of Admissions and Enrollment Management Karen Richardson and Dean of Student Affairs Mary Pat McMahon as they prepared to leave for Princeton and Duke, respectively. Both have been energetic, forward-looking leaders, and they shared what has been accomplished in these important areas and what opportunities and challenges they see ahead. Deans of the Schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering, Jim Glaser and Jianmin Qu, reported on search and transition plans as well as a review of services that will inform next steps in the student affairs division.
Associate Provost and Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Joyce Sackey spoke to the Board on behalf of herself and CDO Rob Mack to share the results of their work over the last year. They have designed an infrastructure to more effectively support diversity and inclusion across Tufts, and new Central and School-based resources will be allocated to advance this work in the coming year. The Board’s Academic Affairs Committee receives regular updates on major issues in academic life ranging from admissions and financial aid to student outcomes and satisfaction; at this meeting, they discussed a range of current issues affecting faculty, including trends in hiring, retention, and diversity, as well as the role of Ph.D. programs across the university.
The trustees’ role as fiduciaries entails ongoing attention to our operations and finances. At this meeting, the Board focused on the university’s response to market and economic forces that are increasingly impacting higher education. While the university’s fundamental financial position remains strong, trends in most academic units have shown that expenses are outpacing growth in revenue. Tufts’ response to these conditions is already well underway as we develop innovative new programs across our campuses and expand the university’s capacity to reach non-traditional learners through programs in the Schools and University College. Earlier in the spring, the Buildings and Grounds and Administration and Finance committees approved the university’s final construction plans for the Joyce Cummings Center, whose facilities will help support many of these exciting new initiatives.
Before the Board meeting ended, the trustees also recognized three members of the university’s leadership. Dr. Simin Nikbin Meydani will be stepping down from her post as Vice Provost for Research early in the coming academic year. Over the past three years, Dr. Meydani has championed researchers, scholars, and students across the university, promoted a culture of innovation and creativity and developed a diverse and high-impact university research portfolio. Patricia Campbell retired at the end of May after a dozen years of service as the university’s Executive Vice President. She worked tirelessly and effectively on behalf of administrative excellence to support our academic mission. And Deborah Kochevar brought the same energy and commitment to excellence for which she became known during twelve years of service as dean of Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine to her service as our Provost and Senior Vice President ad interim. I had the privilege of presenting both Patricia and Debbie with the Presidential Medal during the Board meeting, and at Commencement the following morning, Debbie was named Dean Emerita of Cummings School.
I am grateful to our Board for active and engaged service, and their commitment to our students and their academic success.