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Traditionally held on the first night of Orientation, the Illumination Ceremony gathers first-year and transfer students on the President's Lawn for words of welcome, reflections by fellow students, and musical performances. The students participating in the ceremony in this video are from the Class of 2023, over whose Commencement President Monaco will preside in May, as he nears the end of his presidency.

A Dozen Years of Tufts Milestones

A selection of university achievements from 2011 through today

In February 2022, when Anthony Monaco announced his intention to step down in Summer 2023 after 12 years as service as Tufts' president, his message to the community featured his appreciation to the university community for all they had done to "ensure that Tufts remains a truly exceptional institution."

Now, as he prepares to conclude his term as Tufts' president on June 30, this moment of transition offers us an opportunity to reflect on the 12-year period of his service to the university, marked as it has been by his own contributions and those of faculty, staff, and students from all across Tufts.

Tufts President Anthony Monaco shows off the University Charter, keys to Ballou Hall

October 2011

With representatives from more than 100 universities and learned societies on hand to mark the moment, on October 21, Tufts University inaugurated Dr. Anthony P. Monaco, a distinguished geneticist and former pro-vice-chancellor of Oxford University, as its 13th president. In his address, the new president invited members of the Tufts community to work with him in "using the broad and unique talents of this university to address the problems of our times with creativity and courage, and, in the process, to reimagine ourselves and our society.”

October 2012

The university launched Tufts: The Next 10 Years, a strategic planning process to identify priorities and create a road map for the university’s future. “This is an opportunity for us, as a community, to envision a trajectory for Tufts—where it needs to be, and should be, in a decade’s time,” said President Monaco, who appointed then-Provost David R. Harris to lead the initiative. 

October 2013

On October 2, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia spoke with Tufts community members gathered in the Gantcher Center on the Medford/Somerville campus as part of the Richard E. Snyder President’s Lecture Series.

Gif of special guests who visited Tufts University

Other distinguished speakers invited to campus during the Monaco years have included (among many others): Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker; Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor; U.S. Senators Scott Brown, A81, Susan Collins, and Elizabeth Warren; playwright Anna Deavere Smith; news anchor Lester Holt; Congressman John Lewis; and Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund. 

Isabel Schneider, A20, plays with children at the juegoteca that she created for her project at the Las Tías learning and educational center during her service year with the Tufts 1+4 program in León, Nicaragua

Photo: Alonso Nichols

Above: Isabel Schneider, A20, plays with children at the juegoteca that she created for her project at the Las Tías learning and educational center during her service year with the Tufts 1+4 program in León, Nicaragua. Juegoteca is a play on the Spanish words juego (to play) and biblioteca (library).

February 2014

Tisch College and the university announced the innovative Tufts 1+4 Program, the first of what would become a suite of Tufts First-Year Global Programs offered to incoming undergraduates. Tufts 1+4 brought accepted students to six countries and two domestic locations for an immersive, nine-month service year prior to the start of their studies on campus. Now, another offering in that series, Tufts Civic Semester, offers a first semester that combines academic and experiential learning with a focus on community engagement and social and environmental justice. Based in either Urubamba, Peru or the southwestern U.S., participants join a small cohort of 10-12 peers to create a living and learning community that engages deeply with important social issues through Tufts coursework and hands-on learning with local community organizations.

November 2014

In moves that advanced the university’s ambitious environmental agenda, the Board of Trustees approved the creation of the Tufts University Sustainability Fund to give donors the option of designating that their endowment gifts be invested in a way that acknowledges the importance of environmental, social, and governance factors. The board also authorized planning for a new energy plant on the Medford/Somerville campus that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent.

In November of the following year, in advance of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris, Tufts signed the American Campuses Act on Climate Pledge to demonstrate support for strong international climate action. The pledge attracted the support of 218 campuses representing more than 3.3 million students across the country.  

Throughout this time, faculty and student research and engagement with ongoing global negotiations have been a hallmark of Tufts' work in this arena, with just a sampling as shown in the sidebar.

April 2015

Tufts celebrated the arrival of Tufts’ revered mascot, when a new, life-size, 5,000-pound bronze sculpture of Jumbo was installed in a garden on the Medford/Somerville campus quad. One year earlier, Tufts celebrated the 125th anniversary of the mascot’s arrival on campus with a University Art Gallery exhibition and the commemorative book Jumbo: Marvel, Myth and Mascot, by Andrew McClellan, professor of art and art history.

December 2015 and December 2018

Tufts and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts announced that the School of the Museum of Fine Arts would become part of the School of Arts and Sciences the following year. The move created a new educational model that made Tufts one of only a few universities in the nation with an arts program affiliated with a major museum.

different images of SMFA in GIF format

Three years later, in December 2018, Tufts established University College, a new central administrative unit overseeing programs that serve K-8, pre-college, working professionals, and post-career adult learners, as well as multiple-school degree programs across all schools and campuses.

May 2016

With meetings beginning in 2013, the President’s Sexual Misconduct Prevention Task Force convened regularly through May 2016 in service of supporting student concerns about national trends in sexual misconduct and university policies while maintaining compliance with the requirements of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil RightsOutcomes included the establishment of the Center for Awareness, Resources and Education (CARE) and a permanent Presidential Steering Committee on Sexual Misconduct Prevention, which continues today. Tufts was one of the first U.S. universities to provide onsite resources and supports for all parties involved in sexual misconduct matters.  

June 2016

On June 20, the four-year Financial Aid Initiative concluded, with hundreds of donors giving a total of $95 million to create new endowed scholarships or contribute to existing ones—this against an initial goal of $25 million. As part of the effort, Tufts matched any newly established endowed scholarship greater than $100,000, thereby doubling the scholarship. This effort preceded the public launch in November 2017 of Brighter World: The Campaign for Tufts. With its $1.5 billion goal, Brighter World (which will conclude in June 2023) has been the largest fundraising initiative in Tufts’ history. 

Also with regard to financial aid, as of March 2023, more than $18 million had been raised for the Schuler Access Initiative, a matching gift challenge led by the Schuler Education Foundation, which is committed to supporting college-bound teens with high need. To date, 75 individuals have contributed to 36 new scholarships and eight existing ones.

The Reverend Elyse Nelson Winger, University Chaplain

Photo: Alonso Nichols

September 2016

The University Chaplaincy introduced its first Humanist Chaplain. In all, thanks to the president's commitment to Tufts' diverse religious, spiritual and philosophical identities and interests, the chaplaincy was able to establish several other new positions, including an Africana Spirituality Chaplain and Buddhist and Hindu chaplains. Tufts remains one of the only U.S. institutions of higher education with an Africana Spirituality, Hindu, or Humanist Chaplain.

 

In August 2020, Tufts hired as the Reverend Elyse Nelson Winger (shown here), the first woman ever to serve as University Chaplain.

The Science and Engineering Complex at Tufts University

Photo: Alonso Nichols

October 2017

As one of many additions and renovations to the university’s physical plant across all campuses, Tufts unveiled the Science and Engineering Complex on the Medford/Somerville campus. The complex encompasses new construction for interdisciplinary research and teaching, Anderson Hall, and a renovated Robinson Hall. During the Monaco presidency, new facilities have been constructed across Tufts and existing ones have been renovated, with the academic projects optimized for interdisciplinary research and teaching.

A photo of the ribbon-cutting event for the Tufts Launchpad BioLabs event

Photo: Alonso Nichols

May 2018

The university celebrated the opening of Tufts Launchpad | BioLabs, a full-service biotech facility at Tufts’ Boston health sciences campus. Home to 20+ early-stage life science startups, the site provides high-potential, early-stage biomedical startup ventures with the infrastructure, equipment and core facilities, operational support, and industry connections they need to build and grow their startups—in the dynamic biotech ecosystem of Boston.

Portrait of engineering student, Akshita Rao, E21

Photo: Alonso Nichols

August 2019

With the arrival of the Class of 2023, the School of Engineering reached a celebratory milestone: for the first time in its 130-year history, women accounted for 50 percent of the first-year class at the school. To mark the occasion, Tufts Now interviewed women at the school about the opportunities and attractions of the profession.

Similar milestones were reached—and records broken—around the university during this era. As another example, in December 2021, women in the School of Dental Medicine’s Class of 2024 elected four women to fill all the seats on its executive board for the first time in the school's history. 

October 2019

Launched by President Monaco in 2016, the Mental Health Task Force released its report, concluding that while significant efforts to meet student needs are in place, Tufts must implement a broader, more strategic suite of mental health and wellness services. Many of the report’s recommendations had already been implemented. In January 2019, Tufts had been named the first recipient of a new scholarship established by the HBC Foundation to join JED Campus, a program that brought a new framework to Tufts’ mental health programs and services, including strategic planning, implementation, and assessment.

A Tufts employee removing the lettering from the Sackler Building on the Boston Health Sciences campus

Photo: Jandro Cisneros

December 2019

The university announced its decision on December 5 to remove the Sackler name from all programs and facilities on the Boston health sciences campus. As part of the same response to the toll of the opioid epidemic with which Sackler family members and their company Purdue Pharma are associated, the university announced its increased support of programs aimed at the prevention and treatment of substance abuse and addiction. Among those steps was the creation of the Tufts Initiative on Substance Use and Addiction, an endowment that supports education, research, and civic engagement initiatives designed to support individuals and families who have been affected by the opioid crisis. 

2020

From the pandemic's first moments, community members went the extra mile to help those in need and each other (including in the ways outlined in this video). Tufts' response stayed strong throughout, continuing with the partnership with Medford and Somerville in 2021 to bring surveillance testing to public schools using a new pooled-testing method developed by Tufts and the Broad Institute, to make PK-12 education safer, curb disease spread, and sustain in-person education.  

February 2021

In sharing the results of the workstreams of the Tufts as an Anti-Racist Institution initiative, university leaders announced that Tufts would begin to reimagine campus safety, expand implicit-bias training, establish pipeline programs for students and faculty—and much more. The workstreams focused on five areas: compositional diversity, equity and inclusion, institutional audit, public art, and campus safety and policing. Also announced: An investment of at least $25 million over the next five years to support the implementation of more than 180 recommendations, which were the culmination of months of interviews, focus group meetings, surveys of community members, data analyses, and policy reviews conducted as part of this initiative since its launch by President Monaco in July 2020. Subsequently, the total university-wide resources allocated towards this effort resulted in a total commitment of over $50 million over five years.

a student views the Tisch Library installation for the Leading While Black exhibition

Photo: Alonso Nichols

This work builds on efforts from the beginning of Monaco’s tenure, including the Council on Diversity in 2013. Chaired by the president, that initiative outlined specific measures to achieve greater diversity at Tufts and ensure a culture welcoming to all. Among the report’s recommendations: hiring a chief diversity officer; increasing financial aid to attract and retain talented students who traditionally have not considered Tufts; examining curricula and other programs to ensure they support diversity and inclusion; and articulating more clearly how central these values are to Tufts’ mission and vision.

a doctoral student in Electrical Engineering, poses for a portrait in the Renewable Energy and Applied Photonics (R.E.A.P.) Lab

Photo: Alonso Nichols

May 2021

Tufts was selected to join the Association of American Universities (AAU), a consortium of America’s leading research universities noted for their accomplishments in education, research, and innovation. As an AAU member, Tufts joins a select group of 65 other highly regarded institutions, including Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Brown, Dartmouth, and MIT, in helping shape policy for higher education, science, and innovation and strengthening the contributions of leading research universities to American society.

June 2021

As part of the strong alignment of the research and education endeavors of the two institutions, Tufts announced that the School of Medicine's dean would also serve as the chief academic officer for Tufts Medicine (formerly Wellforce). The appointment marked a major milestone in the relationship between the School of Medicine (TUSM) and the parent health system of TUSM’s principal teaching-hospital affiliate, Tufts Medical Center. President Monaco characterized the dual role as “a catalyst for our institutions, strengthening our research alliances, enhancing the student experience, and bringing more research and teaching opportunities to [Tufts Medicine] communities.” Helen Boucher, MD, FACP, FIDSA, then-chief of the Division of Geographic Medicine and Infectious Diseases at Tufts Medical Center and professor of medicine at TUSM, was named to the position. 

A person dressed in personal protective gear walks next to a graveyard in Liberia. Tufts University will head a program that will work with 10 countries in Africa and Asia to halt the spread of emerging viruses that lead to diseases like Ebola

Photo: Neil Brandvold, Creative Commons license

October 2021

The United States Agency for International Development announced that Tufts will take the lead on the five-year Strategies to Prevent Spillover (STOP Spillover) program, set up to head off future pandemics like COVID-19. Experts from several Tufts schools and 12 partner institutions will work with high-risk countries to strengthen their capacity to develop and use essential knowledge about emerging viruses.

January 2022

Tufts announced the findings of an ad hoc committee to better understand how the rising tide of antisemitism in the United States and on college campuses was manifesting itself at Tufts. This effort included more than 40 focus groups. In a survey conducted with the entire undergraduate student body and the 2021 graduating class, while most members of the Tufts community (including a significant majority of Jewish respondents) reported that Tufts is a good place for Jewish students, more than half of Jewish student respondents reported to have observed some form of antisemitism at Tufts. As an outcome from this work, Tufts issued recommendations aimed at ensuring that all members of our community can express their religious and cultural identity free from fear, discrimination, or prejudice. Tufts also joined Hillel International's Campus Climate Initiative to assess the university’s campus climate as it relates to antisemitism and to learn best practices from 18 other peer institutions. 

June 2022

For the first time, Tufts’ athletics program won the prestigious Learfield Directors’ Cup for NCAA Division III, beating more than 400 colleges and universities in this national competition. The Directors’ Cup is awarded to the athletics program with the most broad-based participation and success in postseason competition, and the victory highlighted the wide array of high-performing teams and student-athletes at Tufts.

Members of the Tufts Class of 2026 at their Matriculation ceremony in August 2022

August 2022

Continuing many years of positive trends, the Class of 2026 earned a place in Tufts admissions history when applications grew nearly 12 percent over last year to more than 34,880—making it the largest and most compositionally diverse first-year applicant pool ever at Tufts.

That surge in interest translated into the most selective admissions cycle ever, in which just 9.7 percent of first-year applicants were admitted to the class. Shown above at their Matriculation ceremony, the class sustains Tufts’ focus on creating a student body that is diverse and inclusive: across all enrolling U.S. students, 48 percent identify as students of color, matching the percentage in the Class of 2025. 

November 2022

During President Monaco’s tenure, the annual Tufts Community Appeal grew from 347 donors to 891, and from $160,000 raised per year to $1.6M—increases of 157 percent and 900 percent, respectively. All funds raised through the Tufts Community Appeal support financial aid, Tufts programs, and Tufts Community Grants (TCG). In this same period, the Community Grants program has supported more than 145 nonprofits in Tufts’ host communities of Boston, Grafton, Medford, and Somerville. TCG program support reached a record high in 2022, with the largest number of donors (187) and the greatest total amount raised from staff and faculty giving ($35,200).

December 2022

As the first Green Line train opened its doors at the new Medford/Tufts station before dawn on December 12, hundreds of students were on hand to mark a historic moment for Tufts and Boston public transit. The Green Line Extension (GLX) project has expanded ridership service by extending the existing MBTA Green Line service northwest of Lechmere Station—helping to advance access, equity, and sustainability while also fully opening up the heart of Boston to the Medford/Somerville campus.

January 2023

During the period beginning in 2011, the Tufts endowment provided roughly $2 billion of financial support to the university’s mission. That support included more than $900 million paid out in service of annual operations and roughly $1 billion in increased endowment value that will support future generations of students, researchers and faculty at Tufts, in perpetuity.

April 2023

By the conclusion of President Monaco’s tenure, the university had assembled a leadership team across all the schools and units as well as central administration that reflected a wealth of experience and a diversity of backgrounds, in support of the leadership of a major research university.

Tufts University Administrations and deans

June 2023

Tufts will mark the end of its most successful fundraising campaign in history. Brighter World: The Campaign for Tufts has already surpassed its $1.5 billion goal, making a transformative impact on the university. Top priorities have included financial aid to ensure access for talented students with high need, enhanced student housing, expanded athletic facilities, and new laboratories, clinics, and classrooms, as well as new buildings that reflect the university’s vision for cross-disciplinary teaching and research. Gifts from across the Tufts community also are fueling discoveries that support the common good, from revolutionary medical breakthroughs to new approaches to strengthening democracy. With the achievement of Brighter World, Tufts’ distinctive strengths in civic involvement, innovation, collaboration, and entrepreneurship are well-positioned to benefit future generations of students and scholars, and, through their efforts, the wider world.

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