We have just completed another exciting academic year. I hope that this summer will provide you with opportunities for reflection, relaxation, and renewal as well as time to advance our work together.
This year, faculty across the university continued to receive accolades for their advances in teaching, research, scholarship, and civic engagement. In the School of Arts and Sciences, the newly established Department of Studies in Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora (RCD) received a $1.5 million award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to hire three new faculty positions in interdisciplinary studies in the humanities and social sciences. At the School of Medicine, the Department of Neuroscience received a $10.8 million gift to launch the Ghahreman Khodadad Center for the Study of Excessive Pathological Selfishness, which will support research into neurological underpinnings of extreme self-centeredness. Professor Anthony Romero of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts—highly regarded for his collaborative, multimedia works that bring together intercultural and historical narratives—was selected as a member of this year’s class of Radcliffe Fellows. Charles Sykes and Maria Flytzani-Stephanopoulos were recognized for their groundbreaking research with the prestigious American Chemical Society Catalysis Lectureship.
This spring, I was proud to announce the appointment of three school deans who will, with Provost Nadine Aubry, advance our academic enterprise at a time of great opportunity for Tufts. Alastair Cribb brings a unique background as an innovator, researcher, and visionary leader in veterinary medicine to service as dean of Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. A distinguished leader in dental education, Nadeem Karimbux becomes the 17th dean of Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. The Fletcher School will welcome back one of its own accomplished graduates when international champion for sustainability Rachel Kyte, F02 takes the helm as dean. Other recent appointments that will strengthen our academic and research mission include: Peter Bates, vice dean of Tufts University School of Medicine; Kevin Oye, executive director of Tufts Gordon Institute; and Abani Patra, inaugural director of the Data Intensive Studies Center.
Transformational experiences inside and outside of the classroom are essential for the intellectual and personal growth of our students. We advanced our commitment to that mission at the undergraduate level this spring with the launch of Tufts Civic Semester, a partnership with Tisch College that allows undergraduates in the School of Arts and Sciences to spend their first term engaged in service learning abroad.
Healthy competition can provide unique opportunities for personal growth. For the eighth straight year, our varsity athletics program finished in the top 10 nationwide among all Division III colleges and universities in the Learfield IMG Directors’ Cup standings. Winners of our annual entrepreneurship competitions, including the 15th annual $100k New Ventures Competition and the Tufts Food and Entrepreneurship Competition, represented an array of interdisciplinary partnerships offering solutions for a variety of marketplace opportunities and societal challenges.
Throughout the spring, we welcomed guests from across the country and from around the world to the university. The research and innovative approaches to early childhood education at Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development and the lab school attracted a special visit in May by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and three Congresswomen from Massachusetts. Delivering the annual Tufts Hillel Merrin Moral Voices Lecture, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof challenged the audience to think critically about the moral quandaries of immigration and humanitarian crises. We are also grateful to those Tufts alumni who returned this spring to share their wisdom and experiences, ranging from entrepreneur Neil Blumenthal, A02 to printmaker and anti-apartheid activist Kim Berman, SMFA88.
We welcome Mike Howard as the university’s new executive vice president. Sustaining Tufts’ tradition of excellence in administration and facilities is essential to supporting our academic mission and a thriving campus community. Capital projects are in progress across the university this summer. In June, the new entry lobby at the School of Dental Medicine was completed, and the installation of an additional elevator for the 15-story tower is now underway. Projects across the Medford/Somerville and Fenway campuses to enhance the student experience include improvements to dining facilities at the SMFA as well as the completion of the CoHo housing project in Medford and the finishing touches on the renovations at Houston and Miller halls. New projects will break ground including new squash facilities and the Joyce Cummings Center, whose location next to the future MBTA station will make it an important new gateway to the Medford campus.
The loyalty and generous support of Tufts’ alumni, parents, and friends has generated more than $840 million for Brighter World: The Campaign for Tufts, surpassing the halfway point towards our ambitious goal of $1.5 billion. I am pleased to share that 16 new endowed professorships have been established in response to the Professor Partnership Challenge, bringing the total number of new professorships committed during Brighter World to 32. Among the many generous commitments that have been made this spring is a $10 million pledge from anonymous donors in support of financial aid, diversity and inclusion and Tisch College. We are grateful to our donors, who play a vital role in supporting our students and faculty.
The culmination of the academic year came on Commencement weekend, when the university awarded more than 3,600 undergraduate and graduate degrees. A new tradition was started this spring, with an inaugural ceremony for our first-generation college graduates, hosted by the FIRST Resource Center. In her Commencement address, actor and activist Alfre Woodard urged our graduates to pursue their passions while cultivating a social conscience. I know that our newest alumni are poised to follow her advice—because it is in line with what I see every day from students, faculty, and staff across Tufts, and with the accomplishments that made last year productive and memorable across the university.