A regular meeting of the Board of Trustees and its committees took place on Friday and Saturday, November 1 and 2, 2019. The meetings brought the trustees to both the Boston health sciences and Medford/Somerville campuses.
During the Board’s plenary sessions on Friday, Board members engaged in an in-depth discussion of whether to remove the Sackler name from our school of graduate biomedical sciences, from our medical education building, and from within our medical school programs. The Board heard from former US Attorney Donald K. Stern on his review of Tufts’ past relationships with Purdue Pharma and members of the Sackler family as well as from students and faculty who shared their concerns about the impact of continued use of the Sackler name on our academic mission in medicine and public health. The Board subsequently made the decision to remove the Sackler name from medical school facilities and programs, as announced in a message to the university community in early December.
When the Board reconvened on Saturday, Dr. Paul Summergrad and I discussed the findings of the university-wide Task Force on Student Mental Health, which released its final report in October. Then Dean Harris Berman and colleagues from the School of Medicine shared an update on new programs and research initiatives at the School.
Much of the Board’s work is accomplished through its committees. The agenda for the Academic Affairs Committee included a report from Dean James Glaser on work in the student-serving divisions in the Schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering as well as updates by Provost Nadine Aubry on the strategic plan for research and scholarship and the Tufts Center for Integrated Management of Antimicrobial Resistance (CIMAR). The Board’s new Student Affairs Committee, whose voting members include two students, had convened the previous week and will provide new opportunities for the trustees to engage with critical issues in the student experience.
The Committee for University Advancement heard from two Tufts seniors on how they are collaborating with the administration to build a culture of collaboration of student and young alumni giving. I am pleased to report that the Brighter World campaign is making great progress towards its $1.5B goal. Capital projects to support faculty and student needs across the university were another central topic in the meetings, including the successful completion of the second phase of the CoHo residential project in Medford and renovations to Miller and Houston Halls.
While the Board of Trustees has a fiduciary responsibility to steward Tufts financial assets to maximize the resources available to support the university’s academic mission, it also recognizes that under certain circumstances it may be appropriate to consider social impacts when making investment decisions. The Board authorized a new process to provide advisory recommendations on concerns about the potential social impact caused by investing activities to the Investment Committee, a subcommittee of the Trustee Administration and Finance Committee. This new process calls for the appointment of a topic-specific Responsible Investing Advisory Group to evaluate these types of proposals from designated sponsoring organizations within the university community. This will allow for a consistent and thoughtful approach to these important issues.
Tufts benefits from the service of thoughtful and deeply committed trustees who lend their experience and perspective to advance the university. On Saturday, the Board recognized the service of retiring trustees John J. Bello, Daniel J. Doherty III, Laurie A. Gabriel, Steven M. Galbraith, Hugh R. Roome III, Jonathan M. Tisch, Teri C. Volpert, and James J. Wong all of whom were recognized with the title of trustee emeritus. The Board elected seven new trustees who have demonstrated devotion to Tufts over many years as alumni and as Tufts parents: Cristiana Falcone Sorrell, F01, N01; Peter M. Fasolo, A18P, E22P; Sam W. Ho, M76; Rebecca J. Neary, J87, A22P; Jonathan M. Pruzan, A90; Theodore R. Tye, A79, A06P, A13P; and Mariann A. Youniss, J83. In addition, Kenneth C. Fan, E01, F07, and Lori Roth, J86, who were elected by the members of the Alumni Association in the spring, began their terms as alumni trustees.