Facilitating New Educational Opportunities

Tufts brings many programs, from pre-college to post-career endeavors, under its new University College initiative

University College is a new unit Tufts has launched to bring together under one umbrella everything from K-8 and pre-college programs to courses for working professionals and programs for post-career adults, as well as multiple-school degree programs across all schools and campuses.

The board of trustees approved the creation of University College in November, and named Joseph Auner as inaugural dean. Auner, dean for academic affairs in the School of Arts and Sciences and Austin Fletcher professor of music, will continue part-time in his Arts and Sciences roles while serving as dean of University College.

“The goal is to work collaboratively across all the schools of the university, and allow the schools to do things they have wanted to do but couldn’t, or to do things they don’t have the capacity to do,” said Auner.

Today, University College oversees Tufts’ summer pre-college programs—such as Tufts College Experience, a six-week residential program, and Pre-College Intensives, short programs in subjects which range from engineering design to international relations—as well as Tufts’ Summer Session, which offers 200 courses across the university to Tufts and non-degree students. Going forward, it will be facilitating the development of new programs through market research, marketing, financial management, and other critical operating infrastructure.

Programs under the purview of University College will retain their individual identities while benefiting from cross-school marketing and collaboration. Unlike other universities that have separate divisions in continuing education, the plan for University College is to help schools and programs collaborate more effectively rather than “create a new silo,” said Karen Mulder, executive associate dean for University College. Mulder will also continue her duties as executive director of strategy and program development in the Office of the Executive Vice President.

“A big part of all these programs is building Tufts’ brand, building an affinity for Tufts that resonates across degree and non-degree programs in all of our schools,” said Mulder.

University College and its leadership will report to Provost ad interim Deborah Kochevar. Vice Provost Kevin Dunn and the faculty senate were intensively involved in the creation of University College, and have developed bylaws and an academic oversight plan and policies for it. “They have been great partners with us,” said Mulder.

University College was created in part to help Tufts offer university-wide degrees, said Mulder. For programs that span more than two schools—such as the Sustainable Water Management program, which is taught jointly by five of Tufts’ schools and led by the Tufts Institute for the Environment—University College can provide academic oversight and administrative support.

University College also will continue to help reach new populations of learners who want to take advantage of what Tufts has to offer without matriculating at the university, Auner said. That might well include working professionals, who may only be looking for one-off courses that serve their specific career-related objectives, “or taking one course at a time, testing the water in a new subject as they consider getting a degree,” said Mulder.

“With everything we’re working on in University College, we are seeking to keep it consistent with the vision and mission of Tufts,” said Auner. “With the pre-college programs, for example, we are creating programs that really reflect our strengths and interests and distinctive features,” he added, citing the international relations pre-college intensive program which offers language courses in Arabic, ESL, French, Spanish, Russian, and Chinese and the opportunity to learn from faculty of the Fletcher School and the widely regarded International Relations program for undergraduates in the School of Arts and Sciences.

“We really see University College creating a much broader community of people who feel connected to the university, and we already see that happening,” Auner said.

Taylor McNeil can be reached at taylor.mcneil@tufts.edu.

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