Introducing Brighter World: The Campaign for Tufts

With the launch of the largest fundraising initiative in its history, Tufts University is enhancing its ability to tackle the globe’s toughest challenges
Watch a video about the launch of Brighter World.
November 6, 2017

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Tufts University on November 4 launched a $1.5 billion campaign that will strengthen teaching and research, support a distinctive culture of collaboration and innovation, and advance the university’s capacity to translate brilliant ideas into practical solutions for global problems.  

More than 400 alumni and friends celebrated the start of the public phase of Brighter World: The Campaign for Tufts at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Commitments leading up to the launch have contributed more than $566 million, helping bolster Tufts’ longstanding research efforts and providing more than $148 million to support financial aid. The comprehensive campaign, the largest in the university’s history, will accelerate Tufts’ “upward trajectory as a student-centered research university that fosters a global perspective and nurtures leadership,” said President Anthony Monaco.

“Tufts continues to attract among the very best and brightest scholars and students, united by a passion for learning and discovery,” he said. “Our graduates go out into the world with the knowledge and inspiration to make a positive difference. With the support of alumni and others, the Brighter World campaign will enable our remarkable faculty and students to fulfill their aspirations and rise to meet the significant challenges of our time.”

The campaign name is a nod to ideas woven into Tufts’ DNA. Charles Tufts envisioned Tufts College, founded in 1852, as a “light on a hill,” and the university’s motto, Pax et Lux, translates into “Peace and Light.” The theme of light resonates today, with Tufts now positioning itself as a leader in making the world better—and brighter—for future generations.    

The campaign will support the core teaching and research mission of the university’s eight schools, the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, and the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. In addition, it will advance the efforts of Tufts faculty and students working toward solutions on critical issues such as disease prevention, human and animal welfare, global security, obesity and malnutrition, civic engagement, and environmental protection. The campaign will also reinforce Tufts’ longstanding commitment to the humanities and the arts.

These efforts combine to “put Tufts in a league of its own,” said Peter Dolan, A78, chairman of the Board of Trustees. “The university’s ascending reputation reflects the extraordinary breadth of excellence in our classrooms and laboratories that is matched by deep engagement with complex problems well beyond our campuses. The critical role that Tufts can play in securing the future of our planet has never been clearer or more urgent.”

The campaign, taking direction from priorities identified in the university’s ten-year strategic plan, will raise funds to support three core areas: 

Transformative Experiences. By encouraging self-discovery through academic exploration and a wide range of activities outside classrooms, Tufts will sustain and strengthen opportunities for personal and intellectual growth. Brighter World will, for example, strengthen the university’s commitment to the creation of new knowledge in the humanities, social sciences, and health sciences at the same time it will expand opportunities for undergraduate and graduate research conducted with faculty mentors. It will capitalize on the momentum of the university’s successful entrepreneurship program and build out maker spaces that respond to industry demand for the kind of creative thinking that comes with hands-on learning.  Activities that enrich the college experience will also be strengthened by initiatives such as the master plan for athletics, which includes a new aquatic center.

Support for students includes financial aid and fellowship support across the university, an overarching focus that reaffirms the university’s commitment to providing access for students of all economic backgrounds, and to building a diverse intellectual community.

Tufts will also encourage new ideas about teaching. Recent investments, for example, in clinical simulation labs at the School of Dental Medicine, School of Medicine, and Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, will continue to be complemented by university-wide strategies that emphasize engagement and experiential learning. Brighter World also will cultivate cross-disciplinary opportunities made possible by the recent acquisition of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, which will not only enhance art education, but also create new collaborations across the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics.

Research and Innovation. Two new complexes on the Medford/Somerville campus demonstrate how research and innovation are flourishing in new settings that foster interdisciplinary teaching and research. The Collaborative Learning and Innovation Complex brings together disciplines that span occupational therapy, physics and astronomy, and human factors engineering. The new Science and Engineering Complex, which includes the Allen Discovery Center, is equipped with teaching labs and research laboratories. Researchers there are exploring four broad areas: global environmental change; neuroscience, with a focus on the brain’s function and adaptability; molecular connections and the microbiome, work that has implications in areas such as animal behavior and obesity research; and, at the Allen Discovery Center, tissue development and regeneration through understanding of the bioelectric code within and between cells. The university is also investing in research on the health sciences campuses, focusing on areas ranging from Alzheimer’s disease to cancer.

Tufts also plans to create a new Data-Intensive Studies Center (DISC) to advance its ability to make discoveries across all schools by gathering and analyzing enormous volumes of data. DISC will be a centerpiece of a new building, made possible by Bill Cummings, A58, H06, J97P, M97P, and his wife, Joyce Cummings, J97P, M97P, H17, whose generous support through Cummings Foundation, Inc. will enable construction to start next year on the Medford/Somerville campus. It is also expected to be the new home for the departments of computer science, mathematics, and economics, as well as the Entrepreneurial Leadership Studies Program.  

Global Impact. Faculty from all corners of Tufts’ campuses are leveraging groundbreaking research to improve lives around the world. With Brighter World, the university will seek funding to give faculty and students the resources they need to continue to advance their research toward the goal of developing practical applications, including for treating Alzheimer’s disease, curbing the obesity epidemic, pioneering a more nuanced approach to cybersecurity, and preventing the devastation of infectious diseases such as Ebola, cholera, tuberculosis, and schistosomiasis.

Brighter World is led by four co-chairs. Meredith Vieira, J75, H08, a fourteen-time Emmy Award winner, was a longtime co-anchor of Today, and has served as a special correspondent for NBC Nightly News and Dateline NBC. Neal B. Shapiro, A80, a member of the Board of Trustees, is president and CEO of WNET in New York City, the largest public media station in the United States. Jonathan M. Tisch, A76, a vice chair of the Board of Trustees and naming benefactor of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, is the co-chairman of the board of Loews Corporation, chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels, and the author of three bestselling books on corporate leadership and civic responsibility. Sol Gittleman, H10, A85P, is the Alice and Nathan Gantcher University Professor Emeritus and was Tufts’ provost from 1981 to 2001.

“I have been given one last opportunity to give something back, and this campaign is my final thank you,” said Gittleman, author of The Entrepreneurial University: The Transformation of Tufts, 1976-2002. “I can look back at Tufts’ past half-century as one of the great miracles of American higher education.  What Tufts was, what Tufts is, and what Tufts will yet become is the narrative of that miracle.”

Brighter World and its co-chairs will inspire a worldwide community of campaign volunteers, the largest in Tufts’ history. Pointing to tools such as a new Tufts crowdfunding platform and traditions like Giving Tuesday—a day that last year raised more than $1 million from 4,000 alumni and friends—they will emphasize the importance of broad participation across all gift levels. Because, as campaign leaders say, “Every Gift is Jumbo.”

Learn more about Brighter World: The Campaign for Tufts.

Laura Ferguson can be reached at laura.ferguson@tufts.edu.