Lawrence S. Bacow to Step Down from Tufts Presidency in 2011

MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. – Lawrence S. Bacow, who has advanced Tufts University's leadership in teaching, research and public service while championing access to higher education, announced at the Feb. 5-6 meeting of the university's board of trustees that he would step down in June 2011.

Bacow took office as Tufts' 12th president on September 1, 2001. From the aftershocks of 9/11 to the economic challenges of the recent recession, he has consistently led the university according to the fundamental principle that he expressed in his seminal piece "A University Poised": that all decisions be made based on what would help Tufts "to attract, recruit, and retain the very best students and the very best faculty." 


In announcing his decision in a message to the university community, Bacow noted, "I have often said that 10 years is about the right term for a university president. It is long enough for one individual to have a substantial impact but not so long that the institution (or the president) becomes comfortable."

Said James A. Stern, chair of the board of trustees, "Larry Bacow has been unwavering in his commitment to educational excellence, and Tufts has truly prospered under his watch. Time and again, people have put their faith in his vision for Tufts’ future, and he has not let them down."


During Bacow's tenure, Tufts built on its historic strengths to enhance the undergraduate experience, deepen graduate and professional education and critical research, broaden international engagement and foster active citizenship throughout the university community. At the same time, the Tufts student body became measurably stronger and more diverse.


Tufts also made significant financial progress, raising more than $1 billion for its current $1.2 billion Beyond Boundaries campaign. From fiscal year 2002 through December 2009, the university's endowment grew by almost 86 percent, to $1.26 billion. Bacow also created an investment office to manage university investments.


Bacow has been nationally recognized as an advocate for increased access to higher education. As other institutions began expanding merit aid to gain an edge in competing for the most talented students, Tufts never wavered in its commitment to need-based financial aid for undergraduates.  


"It is far from clear to me how society is better off when scarce financial aid resources are diverted from the neediest students to those who are not needy by any measure, simply to redistribute high-scoring students among our institutions," Bacow told the Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education in 2006.


Since 2001, Tufts has increased financial aid for undergraduate, graduate and professional students by almost 94 percent. In 2007, the university replaced loans with grants for undergraduates whose family income was under $40,000 a year. The following year, Tufts launched the first university-wide program in America to ease the debt of graduates pursuing careers in public service and the not-for-profit sector. The university has maintained its commitment to these programs despite the financial downturn. At the same time, Tufts saw the academic profile of students continue to rise, with combined SAT scores setting a record of 1420 in 2009.


The university also strengthened its relationship with its principal teaching hospital. Under Bacow's leadership and in collaboration with Tufts Medical Center CEO Ellen Zane, a strong partnership was formed that brought the hospital and Tufts Medical School closer together.


Bacow has been known for his transparency and accessibility. The annual President’s Marathon Challenge he established in 2003 brings members of the Tufts community together to run and volunteer at the Boston Marathon. Bacow has completed five marathons, including four in Boston, where he has led the challenge team. The challenge has raised $2.4 million in direct fundraising by runners and has attracted two $5 million gifts in support of nutrition and medical research and education. It has also provided countless opportunities for students and employees to talk informally with the president during early morning training runs.  Bacow regularly serves as an advisor to first- and second- year students, and initiated Senior Dinners where all graduating seniors are invited to the President's House. Graduating students' chants of "Larry, Larry" have become a tradition at Tufts Commencement.


"It has been a great privilege to lead Tufts for these past nine years, and I look forward to working with the Board to ensure a smooth and successful transition to the next president," Bacow said. "There will be plenty of time over the next 16 months to reflect upon the past and say goodbyes. For now, I am focused on the future, on completing the Beyond Boundaries campaign and on working with each of you in the months ahead to make Tufts an even better place." 

According to Stern, the search for Bacow's successor will begin immediately, and the board of trustees will determine the best way to involve students and other constituencies in the process.



During the last decade, Tufts has realized significant achievements in educating students and generating new knowledge—the bellwethers of a great university.



The quality and diversity of the student body continues to grow, fueled by increased financial aid and a holistic approach to admissions that enables Tufts to identify students whose personal strengths complement academic excellence in important ways. Over the last nine years, the average combined SAT scores of entering undergraduates have risen by more than 100 points, to 1420. At the same time, the number of students receiving Pell Grants, a benchmark for socioeconomic diversity, has risen from 432 in 1999 to 670 in 2009. Initiatives such as the Summer Scholars program have increased opportunities for students to engage in significant research. More than 42 percent of undergraduates now do independent research compared with 27 percent a decade ago. Significant advances in graduate and professional education have included new degree programs in international law, international business and conservation medicine, as well as initiatives to support expanded enrollment among both dental and medical students. 



Support for faculty excellence has been a critical priority during Bacow's presidency. Between fiscal year 2000 and fiscal year 2009, sponsored research awards grew by more than 80 percent, from $81 million to $147 million. Bacow reorganized administration in the Schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering and appointed a new Council on Graduate Education to strengthen graduate programs university-wide. Initiatives in the life sciences have included the establishment of the New England Regional Biosafety Laboratory at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts. With support from the president's and provost's offices, Tufts increased collaboration among the undergraduate, graduate and professional schools and generated enthusiasm for interdisciplinary teaching and research among the faculty. Under his leadership, Tufts also established a full year of pre-tenure leave for junior faculty in Arts and Sciences and research stipends for all Arts and Sciences tenure and tenure-track faculty.



Tufts established a university-wide Office of Institutional Diversity to oversee the work of a reinvigorated Office of Equal Opportunity, launch new programmatic initiatives and establish strong ties between diversity programs across schools and divisions. The percentage of female and minority faculty has risen, with the number of tenured and tenure track faculty of African descent doubling in the last seven years. During the Bacow administration the diversity of the senior leadership team has also grown. Half of Tufts' schools are led by women.


Enhanced Facilities

Under Bacow’s leadership, existing facilities have been renovated and new ones constructed to support strategic priorities on all three of Tufts’ Massachusetts campuses. Major completed projects include eco-friendly dormitory Sophia Gordon Hall and the Perry and Marty Granoff Music Center in Medford/Somerville; renovation and expansion of facilities at The Fletcher School, in Medford/Somerville; the vertical expansion of the School of Dental Medicine and the renovation of the Sackler Center for the School of Medicine, in Boston; and the Agnes Varis Campus Center and the regional biosafety laboratory, in Grafton.  



During Bacow's presidency, the university has benefited from unprecedented donor generosity, receiving its five largest gifts totaling $366 million as it nears completion of a $1.2 billion capital campaign that has already raised $1.05 billion. More important, philanthropy has advanced core needs of the university—supporting great students and great faculty. Gifts totaling more than $369 million are supporting increased financial aid across all schools and enhancing the student experience, from new student centers on its Boston and Grafton campuses to new housing and academic facilities on its Medford/Somerville campus; $358 million in support from alumni, parents and friends is strengthening Tufts' ability to recruit and retain excellent faculty through new endowed professorships and increased research and program support.


Alumni Engagement

Tufts significantly expanded its regional programming for alumni, and has engaged more Tufts graduates in the U.S. and abroad through its chapters and special interest groups. The Tufts alumni chapter program grew fourfold since 2001, and now is comprised of 68 chapters worldwide. Alumni have formed more than 21 shared interest groups in the last decade, up from three groups in 2001. Additionally, more than 40,000 alumni now participate in the Tufts online community. The university also enhanced its alumni publications, most notably Tufts Magazine, which has garnered numerous national awards for writing and design.



Good governance and financial stability have been hallmarks of the university. A sophisticated financial planning model and other management tools that reflect innovation and prudence have enabled Tufts to manage through the economic crisis while increasing financial aid and preserving jobs.


Community Relations

Tufts has strengthened its relationships with its host communities under Bacow's leadership, reaching a landmark partnership agreement with the cities of Medford and Somerville in 2004 and initiating activities such as Community Day and an annual symposium on active citizenship and community partnerships. 



A native of Michigan, Bacow, 58, received his S.B. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, his J.D. from Harvard Law School and his M.P.P. and Ph.D. from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Prior to coming to Tufts, he was the chancellor and Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Studies at MIT; he has also held visiting professorships and research appointments at five universities abroad. Bacow is an internationally recognized expert on non-adjudicatory approaches to the resolution of environmental disputes. He holds faculty appointments in five departments at Tufts: Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning and Economics in the School of Arts and Sciences; Civil and Environmental Engineering in the School of Engineering; Public Health and Family Medicine in the School of Medicine; and in The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


He is a director of Tufts Medical Center, the Omidyar-Tufts Microfinance Fund, the Cummings Foundation and Campus Compact. He chairs the Council of Presidents of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges and the Steering Committee of the Talloires Network, an international association of institutions committed to strengthening the civic roles and social responsibilities of higher education. He is a member of the board of directors of Boston Properties, Inc.


He and his wife, Adele Fleet Bacow, have two married sons, both of whom live in New York City.  


See for the messages to the Tufts University community from President Bacow and Chair of the Board James Stern, and for links to President Bacow's biography and information on Tufts' milestonesunder his leadership.

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.

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