I hope you are all having a wonderful start to the new year and a great beginning of the spring semester. Although the holidays continued to look different this year, I hope you were able to unwind, reconnect with friends and loved ones, and find time for activities that you enjoy.
I know that this new year brings with it some frustration. At this point, I am sure that everyone has experienced some form of “pandemic fatigue.” In addition, many of you may feel apprehensive given the highly transmissible nature of the Omicron variant. While the suffering and loss from the pandemic are still very real, it is also important to acknowledge the hope and optimism that this new year brings. For a start, the vast majority of our community is fully vaccinated and boosted, and mask-wearing indoors and testing have continued to curb the spread of the virus. As has been the case throughout the pandemic, it is important to remain vigilant and stay up to date on the latest COVID-19 protocols. Please know that the Tufts community is here for you, and we will do everything we can to support you.
Another reason for optimism is the strength of our greatest asset, our community—it is what unites us, and what makes Tufts such a special and unique place to work, teach, and learn. Witnessing the countless ways you have risen to the occasion and brought your many talents to the table has filled me with Jumbo pride, and makes me feel fortunate every day to lead this great institution.
As you can see, there is much to look forward to this spring—and the semester has already started on an energetic note with several new appointments across the university. Caroline Genco, previously vice provost for research, has begun her first few weeks as provost and senior vice president ad interim; and former senior director of technology transfer and industry collaboration, Bill Shaw, has assumed the role of vice provost for research ad interim. I am also pleased to welcome Margaret Rose Vendryes as the next dean of SMFA, who will officially start her role on June 1. Until then, I am grateful to SMFA Dean of Faculty Nate Harrison for serving as interim dean of SMFA.
We also continue to demonstrate leadership in research and scholarship. Tufts’ Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) has recently received an $8.23 million grant from the NIH to support innovative research on precision nutrition. And the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning (UEP) in the School of Arts and Sciences has been awarded a $325,000 grant from the Barr Foundation to establish a new program in Racial Equity in Policy and Planning.
Athletics on the Hill are back in full swing, with five Jumbo teams—volleyball, field hockey, men’s soccer, and women’s and men’s cross country—making it to the NCAA tournaments last fall. I look forward to continuing this energy by bringing back many cherished Tufts traditions this semester, culminating with the celebration of both the 2022 and 2020 graduates during the Commencement ceremonies in May.
Thank you for being a part of this community and for making Tufts the remarkable place that it is. I hope you all have a fulfilling semester and a happy, healthy new year ahead.