Sol Gittleman to Deliver Tufts Commencement Address May 23
Legendary Educator to Receive Honorary Degree; Will Be Joined by Distinguished Community Service Advocate, Engineer, Musician, Historian
March 18, 2010
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MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. – Tufts University legendary professor and former provost Sol Gittleman will deliver the commencement address at Tufts on Sunday, May 23, 2010.
Gittleman, who came to Tufts 46 years ago as an assistant professor of German, exemplifies Tufts' tradition of inspired teaching. He was provost from 1981 to August 2002 -- at which time he was believed to be the longest-serving provost in the country -- but never left the classroom. He was appointed the Alice and Nathan Gantcher University Professor in 2003 and continues to teach courses on the migration of East European Jewish literature to America and American baseball history. Lectures by the colorful and candid Gittleman are embedded in Tufts lore. Students routinely refer to them as "spectacular" and "unforgettable."
"I often tell freshmen that if they want to experience Tufts at its best, they should take a class from Sol -- any class. Sol is not only a great scholar, he is the Babe Ruth of teaching, one of the very best teachers of all time," said Tufts President Lawrence S. Bacow. "His commencement address is sure to be memorable."
Born in Hoboken, N.J., to Eastern European Jewish immigrants, Gittleman was by his own admission an unlikely candidate for an academic career. He is the author of books on German literature, East European Jewish literature and the American immigrant experience. A former New York Yankees fan in the heart of Red Sox Nation, he penned "Reynolds, Raschi, and Lopat: New York's Big Three and the Great Yankee Dynasty of 1949-1953" (2007), as well as "The Entrepreneurial University: The Transformation of Tufts, 1976-2002" (2004).
Gittleman has received two Fulbright awards, the Harbison Prize of the Danforth Foundation for Outstanding Teaching, and a citation as Professor of the Year from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, and is the recipient of the Robert J. McKenna Award in 2009 from The New England Board of Higher Education. He holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of Michigan, an M.A. in the same field from Columbia University and a B.A. from Drew University. He has received honorary degrees from Hebrew College, Stonehill College, Drew University and the University of Tuebingen.
At commencement, to be held at 9 a.m. on The Green on Tufts' Medford/Somerville campus, Gittleman will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters. Four other distinguished men and women will also receive honorary doctorates:
Richard Dorsay, Tufts alumnus, retired chief of radiology at Kaiser Hospital South San Francisco, retired professor of radiology, volunteer in support of cancer prevention and education, founder of Tufts' Leonard Carmichael Society, which serves as a vehicle for more than 1,000 students to do volunteer service in some 30 community programs; honorary doctorate of public service;
Kristina M. Johnson, under secretary of energy, former provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at The Johns Hopkins University, former dean of Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering; honorary doctorate of science;
Ann Hobson Pilot, distinguished harpist, among the first African-American women to be appointed to a principal position with a major orchestra when she joined the Washington National Symphony, the first African-American principal in the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the first female principal harpist in the history of the BSO; honorary doctorate of music;
Gordon S. Wood, Tufts alumnus, Pulitzer Prize winning historian, Alva O. Way University Professor and Professor of History Emeritus at Brown University; honorary doctorate of humane letters.
In addition, on Saturday, May 22, Helene D. Gayle, president and CEO of CARE USA, will address graduates of The Fletcher School during their annual Class Day ceremonies.
About Tufts University
Tufts University, located on three Massachusetts campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville, and Grafton, and in Talloires, France, is recognized among the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of innovative teaching and research initiatives span all Tufts campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate and professional programs across the university's schools is widely encouraged.