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May 20, 2020

Dear members of the Tufts community,

The university’s Board of Trustees gathered for its meetings early in February. In a plenary session, three of our new school deans had an opportunity to share their first impressions with the trustees. Alastair Cribb (Cummings), Nadeem Karimbux (Dental Medicine), and Rachel Kyte (Fletcher School) reported on how they planned to leverage the strengths of their individual schools to address critical challenges in health, society, and the international arena. In many cases, the keys to successful outcomes will be found in cross-school collaboration. After the plenary session, the trustees enjoyed lunch with recently tenured and promoted faculty and those who have been recognized with prestigious national awards. During its business meeting, the Board heard from JT Duck, Dean of Admissions and Enrollment Management in the Schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering, about trends in undergraduate admissions at Tufts and nationwide. The university is fortunate to benefit from its strong academic reputation at a time when changing demographics and the economics of higher education are proving challenging for many institutions.

New members of the Academic Affairs Committee were introduced to a dashboard of academic metrics which are tracked over time. Trustees reviewed metrics relating to Admissions, Financial Aid, Enrollment, Retention, and Graduation. Provost Aubry gave a presentation regarding the university’s research doctoral programs, highlighting the importance of the research and scholarship they generate as well as their significant impact on the university’s national and international reputation.

Mental health and wellness have been identified as key priorities of the Student Affairs Subcommittee. The committee discussed national trends in student mental health, discussing how comparative data and benchmarking can help inform decisions about strategic investments in mental health services.

The ongoing Brighter World fundraising campaign was focus of the Committee for University Advancement. The committee discussed the next phase of the campaign, including how the university might recognize an upcoming milestone of $1 billion in achievement.

The Administration and Finance Committee discussed recent financial and investment performance and the outlook for the current and upcoming fiscal years. The committee heard about the progress of the Joyce Cummings Center and approved capital expenditures for projects on the Grafton, Boston and Medford/Somerville campuses which had been recommended by the Buildings and Grounds Committee. In late January, members of the Buildings and Grounds Committee had toured the new Squash Center at the Tisch Sports and Fitness Center, which was opened by the men’s and women’s squash teams on February 1. The $6 million, 8-court facility—a long-awaited project—has been funded entirely by generous donors.

Before the Board meetings began, the university’s nine newly elected trustees participated in an annual orientation session for new trustees. All of these trustees are well-positioned to serve as strong fiduciaries and ambassadors of Tufts, bringing to their service both impressive personal and professional backgrounds and long relationships with the university. An outstanding example of such service has been provided by trustee emeritus Jon Tisch. Jon joined the Board of Trustees in 1988 and retired in 2019 after 31 years; he served as vice chair for 8 years, from 2011 to 2019. At this most recent meeting, the Board voted to name Jon as vice chair emeritus. We congratulate Jon on this well-deserved honor and are grateful for his tireless work as a champion for Tufts and for his role as vice-chair of the Brighter World campaign.

Best wishes,

Tony Monaco