Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch strengthen Tufts’ leadership in advancing civic engagement and education
A $10 million gift from Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch, A76, will extend the reach of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, a national leader in studying and advancing the skills and values that support a robust and inclusive democracy.
The gift will be used in part to add to the endowment of Tisch College as a means of long-term support of its distinctive mission. Another portion of the gift will give the dean of Tisch College resources to help further the college’s current strategic priorities.
“Lizzie and I are proud to support the future of Tisch College, which prepares students to create a better world,” said Tisch, trustee emeritus of the university. “We know Tufts students are deeply committed to making a difference and, through our philanthropy, we want to invest in them and, through them, in the civic fabric that strengthens our society.” Tisch is also a co-chair of Brighter World: The Campaign for Tufts.
Tisch, co-chairman of the Board of Loews Corporation and executive chairman of Loews Hotels & Co., is a longtime champion of addressing society’s problems via the civic engagement of individuals and corporations. An advocate for corporate responsibility and active citizenship, Tisch has advanced the merits of public service as co-author of Citizen You: Doing Your Part to Change the World, which profiles individuals committed to solving social problems, and The Power of We: Succeeding Through Partnerships, which makes the case that, in business and in civic service, people achieve the best results when they work together.
This gift builds on Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch’s past investments in Tufts, including a transformational $40 million gift in 2006 to what was then called Tufts University College of Citizenship and Public Service, the first college of its kind.
President Anthony P. Monaco welcomed the new gift, which he said would help Tufts students on their civic paths to becoming informed, ethical, and engaged citizens, regardless of their academic pursuits or career aspirations.
“The Tisch College of Civic Life is fortunate to have such generous and loyal supporters as Lizzie and Jon Tisch,” he said. “Their continued generosity helps us to prepare students to lead and address big challenges, inspire their imaginations, and develop their skills to bring positive change, be it through their professions or civic work.”
Dayna Cunningham, the Pierre and Pamela Omidyar Dean of Tisch College, said the gift anchors the “values-driven, innovative, collaborative, and strategic vision that defines what we do. Healthy democratic systems rely on local, regional, and global engagement to endure and flourish. We are grateful for Jonathan and Lizzie Tisch’s ongoing and generous philanthropy; they help secure our vital role at Tufts and in the wider world.”
The gift was announced at a Brighter World campaign celebration at New York's Lincoln Center, where it was also recognized as the gift that propelled Tufts past its $1.5 billion 10-year campaign goal. Despite having reached its goal, the university is continuing to actively fundraise through the end of the campaign on June 30 in support of important priorities, including financial aid for undergraduate and graduate and professional school students and school annual funds.
At the event, Jonathan Tisch received a Presidential Medal, the university’s highest honor, in recognition of his long service to his alma mater. He has been a part of the past three comprehensive fundraising campaigns at Tufts.
He and Lizzie helped launch Brighter World with a 2016 gift of $15 million to the Tisch College of Civic Life, which infused the college with critical support for professorships in civic studies, research on youth voting and political engagement, and opportunities for students from all socioeconomic backgrounds to participate in service learning and leadership development programs as well as internships.
“From the beginning of Brighter World, as we set forth with high hopes, Jon was among the first leadership donors to step up and affirm that, indeed, we could reach our aspirations," said Peter Dolan, A78, A08P, chair of the board of trustees. “He has been a central and visionary Tufts advocate for more than 30 years, including through previous campaigns. The President's Medal was the best expression of our gratitude, on behalf of the Tufts community and all who have benefited from his loyalty and generosity.”
Tisch called his long connection to Tufts “incredible” and said that receiving the medal, an unexpected honor, “was very meaningful to me and my wife.”
“The whole message of the campaign has been that Tufts is leading the way to a brighter world, and we certainly need that in every aspect of our lives,” said Tisch. “Lizzie and I are thrilled that we can lend our support, and to see how so many other people, across all generations, have made Brighter World such a remarkable achievement.”
At the Tisch College of Civic Life, students are prepared for a lifetime of civic leadership through a unique array of programs. Opportunities include Tufts Civic Semester, an immersive, first-semester experience abroad; Tisch Summer Fellows, paid summer internships in the nonprofit and public sectors; and a co-major in Civic Studies, the first academic program of its kind in the nation.
Tisch College’s research centers explore the challenges and opportunities of our democracy. Research focused on bolstering civic engagement and K-12 civics education is carried out at the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), the national leader in nonpartisan, independent research on youth voting and engagement, and at the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education, which runs the only national study of college-student voting.
The college’s Solomont Speaker Series brings to Tufts an inspirational and diverse group of leaders in civic life, such as chef and humanitarian José Andrés, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. While located on the Medford/Somerville campus, Tisch College reaches across every school at the university, through community-focused, service-learning programs in the health sciences and other offerings.
Tufts leadership in the public service arena goes back several decades. In 1954, the university created the Center for Civic Education, later renamed the Lincoln Filene Center for Citizenship and Public Affairs. In 2000, to better align the center with the university’s academic mission, Tufts renamed it the University College of Citizenship and Public Service. In 2006, it was renamed the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, in honor of Tisch’s generous philanthropy. That designation was updated to the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life in 2016.
Jonathan Tisch is recognized nationally as a leader of the multi-billion-dollar travel and tourism industry. He is chair emeritus of the United States Travel Association, and previously founded and served as chairman of the Travel Business Roundtable, as well as the American Hotel and Lodging Association.
Committed to a vibrant tourism industry locally, he served for nearly six years as chair of NYC & Company, the city’s official tourism agency, and was chair of New York Rising, a task force established to bring back visitors and revive the economy after 9/11.
Crain’s New York Business named Tisch one of the Top Ten Most Influential Business Leaders and in 2014 inducted him to its Hall of Fame, which recognizes individuals who have transformed the city in both their professional work and their civic and philanthropic activities.