MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. -- Anthony P. Monaco, M.D., Ph.D., pro-vice-chancellor for planning and resources at the University of Oxford and a distinguished neuroscientist who identified the first gene specifically involved in human speech and language, has been named Tufts University's 13th president by the institution's board of trustees. Monaco will succeed President Lawrence S. Bacow next summer. Bacow announced in February 2010 that he would step down next year after 10 years as president of the 158-year-old university.
"Anthony Monaco is a pioneering life scientist with a record of exceptional accomplishment as a university leader, biomedical researcher and teacher. He is superbly qualified to succeed President Lawrence S. Bacow, who has done so much to advance Tufts during the past 10 years," said Chairman of the Board James A. Stern. "Tony will bring to the presidency of Tufts deeply held commitments to academic excellence, diversity, a global perspective and the university's central role in society."
As Oxford's pro-vice-chancellor for planning and resources since 2007, Monaco has developed and led the strategy for academic, capital and student enrollment planning; senior academic appointments, and budgeting and resource allocation for an international institution that includes 38 colleges. He has worked to broaden access to Oxford, create and fund interdisciplinary research initiatives and secure additional support for the humanities.
"I have the greatest admiration for Tony, both as a fellow scientist and a fellow university administrator," said Andrew Hamilton, vice-chancellor of Oxford University. "His research is world-leading, and in his role as pro-vice-chancellor for planning and resources he has led the way on some of the most challenging issues faced by this or any other U.K. university. We will be very sorry to see him leave, but it is always a great pleasure when someone from Oxford goes on to lead another excellent university, and we congratulate Tufts on securing him as president."
Before his appointment as pro-vice-chancellor, Monaco served as director of Oxford’s Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, now the largest externally funded, university-based research center in the U.K. Monaco played a leading role in doubling the size of the center, which focuses on identifying the biological basis of common human diseases.
"Tony Monaco will be a great fit for Tufts," said John Hood, former vice-chancellor at Oxford who now heads the Robertson Foundation. "He is an outstanding researcher and a skilled, considerate and collegial institutional leader. The success of the Wellcome Trust Centre is just one example."
Monaco's own research has focused on the genetic basis of disorders such as autism, specific language impairment and dyslexia.
"Tony Monaco was among the first to recognize the importance of what was still an emerging research frontier, human genetics, and its vast potential to address problems such as cancer and autism," said Nobel-Prize-winning biologist Paul Nurse. Now president of Rockefeller University, Nurse headed the microbiology department at Oxford and also worked with Monaco at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. "His accomplishments in the life sciences are indicative of his impressive ability to synthesize information and lead others in collaborative efforts to solve problems," Nurse added.
President-Elect Lived the American Dream
While Monaco has spent the past 20 years at Oxford, he is a native of Wilmington, Del., and his life in many ways embodies the American Dream. He grew up in modest circumstances, the son of a plumber. A first-generation college graduate, Monaco was encouraged by his high school biology teacher and his godfather, a family friend who taught at Rutgers, to aspire to Princeton.
"I was the first student at my high school to ever apply to, let alone attend, an Ivy League college. This was an enormous step," said Monaco. "Both of my parents instilled a love of learning in all their children, but I wouldn't have been able to make that leap without incredible mentors and Princeton's generous financial aid. I'm passionate about increasing access to higher education, and I know that Tufts shares that passion."
He went on to earn his M.D. and Ph.D. at Harvard University. His doctoral research led to his landmark discovery of the gene responsible for X-linked Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy. Monaco's fascination with genetics took him to the U.K., then the hub of this burgeoning field. He worked on the human genome project at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (now Cancer Research UK) in London and in the human genetics laboratory at the Institute of Molecular Medicine, Oxford.
"I have the same feeling of excitement about Tufts that I had when I was embarking on my first scientific discoveries. It is a great honor for me to have been selected as Tufts' next president, working with such outstanding faculty, staff and students," said Monaco. "Tufts' integrated approach to teaching and research; international perspective; commitment to access, inclusion and active citizenship, and strength in the life sciences are truly extraordinary."
Monaco's selection as president-elect of Tufts is the outcome of an extensive international search. In looking for Tufts’ next president, the search committee considered exceptional candidates from business, public service and nonprofit organizations as well as academia.
"Our committee sought an individual whose values were those of Tufts and who had the leadership skills to keep the university on its strong trajectory. Tony quickly impressed all of us with his understanding of our institutional values and aspirations, as well as his stellar academic and administrative talents," said Trustee Vice Chair Peter Dolan, who chaired the university-wide search committee. "We're very grateful for the engagement of the many faculty, students, staff and alumni who were part of this process."
"Tufts has attracted a president-elect with impeccable academic credentials, from one of the top universities in the world. Equally important, he embodies Tufts' core values," said Professor Julian Agyeman, search committee member and chair of Tufts' Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning. "One thing that stands out in my mind is his understanding that diversity and inclusion are not simply a challenge but more importantly an unparalleled opportunity to achieve excellence."
Monaco will meet today with faculty, students and staff at each of Tufts' three Massachusetts campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville and Grafton.
Monaco, 51, is married to Zoia Monaco, Ph.D., who heads a research group at the University of Oxford. Her research area is in cell biology, and the work focuses on understanding the dynamics of cell components. They currently live near Oxford, with their three sons between the ages of 9 and 12.
Monaco joins Tufts at a time of historic momentum for the university.
Tufts' undergraduate, graduate and professional programs span three campuses in Massachusetts and a fourth in Talloires, France. In addition to among the most selective undergraduate programs in the country, Tufts encompasses widely recognized master's and doctoral degree programs in arts and sciences and engineering.
Tufts' graduate and professional schools also include The Fletcher School, the country's oldest graduate-only school of international relations; the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, the only graduate school of nutrition in the U.S.; the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, New England's only veterinary school and one of the nation's few private veterinary schools; the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences and the School of Medicine, which educates more doctors who ultimately enter primary care than any other school in Massachusetts; and the School of Dental Medicine, the nation's second-largest dental school. In addition, Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, celebrating its 10th anniversary, offers a unique model for infusing values of active citizenship university-wide through teaching and research.
Tufts has achieved substantial financial growth in recent years. Since 2001, total annual sponsored research has increased to more than $176 million and the university's endowment rose to almost $1.26 billion. During this time, the university has received the five largest gifts in its history, totaling more than $376 million. Tufts is on track to complete its $1.2 billion Beyond Boundaries capital campaign in 2011 and has raised 95 percent of its goal.
The Tufts student body has become stronger by numerous measures. Increases in support for graduate and professional students, and the faculty who teach them, have enabled Tufts to attract exceptionally talented students for its master's and doctoral programs.
On the undergraduate level, the class of 2014 mean combined SAT score of 1416 represents an increase of more than 100 points compared with 2001. The mean class rank for enrolled freshmen is in the top 5 percent, and 90 percent of entering freshmen are in the top 10 percent of their class. Seventy percent of students attending graduate or professional school in the fall after graduation attend their first-choice institution.
Tufts has remained committed to increasing access and need-based financial aid for undergraduates, even as other institutions began expanding merit aid.
This year, Tufts admitted 131 Pell Grant recipients, a widely accepted benchmark of access. Eleven percent of the 2014 class are the first in their families to attend college. Undergraduate financial aid has more than doubled since 2001.
In 2008 Tufts officially launched the first university-wide loan repayment assistance program in the country. It enables alumni from all of Tufts' schools who are working in the public service or nonprofit sectors to apply for grants to help pay off education loans. In 2007, Tufts eliminated loans for undergraduates with annual family incomes below $40,000.