Tufts names noted political scholar dean of Arts & Sciences

James Glaser will lead Tufts’ oldest & largest school

Photograph of Jim Glaser, dean of Arts & Sciences at Tufts University

MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. (Feb. 4, 2015) -- James M. Glaser, a noted scholar of American political behavior, has been named dean of Tufts University's School of Arts and Sciences, the oldest and largest school at the university. The appointment, effective Feb. 15, follows an international search. A professor of political science at Tufts, Glaser has served as dean ad interim of the school since last summer.

Glaser has spent his entire academic career at Tufts, joining the Department of Political Science as an assistant professor in 1991, the same year he received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of California at Berkeley. He was promoted to full professor in 2005. As he rose through the faculty ranks, Glaser emerged as a leader, first as department chair, then as dean of undergraduate education for arts, sciences and engineering from 2003 to 2010, and finally as dean of academic affairs for arts and sciences, before being named interim dean in June 2014.

"One of the things that makes Tufts special—and the reason I have made my career here—is our mission to make this education accessible to a broad swath of society," Glaser said. "This institution has values and a social conscience that attract a certain kind of student who wants to be in this environment because they want to make a difference."

Glaser leads a school with 5,200 undergraduate and graduate students and more than 650 faculty during a time of great expectations at Tufts. A university-wide strategic plan has mapped out an ambitious course for the next decade and planning continues for the next capital campaign that will fund that vision. Glaser will work with colleagues to complete the strategic planning process for the School of Arts and Sciences.  The plan's three primary goals: a continued commitment to meet the full demonstrated financial need of all admitted undergraduates for four years (Tufts is among the few American colleges and universities that do this); strengthening graduate degree programs; and ongoing improvements to facilities that support Tufts' research and educational priorities.

"As a longtime teacher, scholar and administrator at Tufts, Jim has the deep institutional knowledge and breadth of vision that make him the ideal choice to lead the School of Arts and Sciences," Tufts President Anthony P. Monaco said. "He’s a bold thinker who is committed first and foremost to our students and the faculty who teach and mentor them."

Provost David Harris, chief academic officer for the university, said he is proud that Glaser "has Tufts in his DNA. He has an enduring admiration for this institution, its traditions, its people and its values. We could not have done any better than to entrust the next chapter in the history of the School of Arts and Sciences to Jim Glaser."

Transforming the Student Experience

Glaser has done much to help shape and transform undergraduate education at Tufts. As a faculty member, he served on a task force charged with reimagining the undergraduate experience. Then, as dean of undergraduate education, he guided the implementation of the task force’s recommendations, including a Summer Scholars program that supports undergraduates as they conduct research with faculty across the university; a revamped advising system that improved graduating student satisfaction rates nearly 50 percent; a café in Tisch Library that has increased library traffic and promoted more interaction between faculty and students; and a doubling of the number of undergraduates completing honors theses prior to graduation.

Throughout his Tufts career, Glaser has championed students and their potential. "I care about bringing a diverse group of students to the university," said Glaser. "I believe that all admitted students are capable of succeeding at Tufts, but we have a responsibility to put into place mentoring, advising and bridge programs to promote their success."

Glaser said he and his leadership team continue to look at ways "to refresh and create excitement” around the curriculum. They are exploring a new major in film and media studies; planning to elevate the popular community health program to department status with tenure-line faculty; and advancing a new finance minor in economics that integrates a liberal arts education with preparation for a career in finance.  The School of Arts and Sciences is also working to enhance its offerings of food and nutrition courses and create a minor in nutrition and food science through collaboration with Tufts' Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

"Undergraduate education is not just about sitting in the classroom," Glaser said. "It is about having active learning experiences that allow students to discover the excitement of creating and transmitting knowledge."

Graduating seniors in 2000 voted to award Glaser the Lerman-Neubauer Prize for Outstanding Teaching and Advising in recognition of the "profound effect" he had on them intellectually, both in and out of the classroom.

A scholar of American politics, particularly in the South, and the fickle behavior of voters, Glaser is a frequent national media commentator on elections and polls. "Given my interest in issues of race and ethnicity, the South has provided me with opportunities to explore how people think and act in a time of great racial change," he said. He has written two books on these issues—The Hand of the Past in Contemporary Southern Politics and Race, Campaign Politics and the Realignment in the South—both published by Yale University Press and both winners of the V.O. Key Award for Best Book in Southern Politics.

He coauthored his latest book, Changing Minds If Not Hearts: Political Remedies for Racial Conflict (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), with his former student, Timothy Ryan, who is now a tenure-track faculty member at the University of North Carolina.

Photo credit: Kelvin Ma/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 enjoy 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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