Strategic Plan intends to bring significant changes

Not all Tufts students may be familiar with the details of the T10 Strategic Plan, but in the next few years they will witness the changes that come as a result of it. The Strategic Plan, announced in November 2013, is an outline of steps to be taken by the university in the upcoming 10 years to enhance students’ experience.

According to an April 26, 2013 article in the Tufts Daily, the Prelude to the Strategic Plan was released to the Tufts community during the initial planning stages in order to promote discussion on campus. Both students and faculty were able to voice their opinions and ideas by attending open forums and getting involved in committees and working groups. The Student Experience Working Group, for example, focused heavily on the first-year experience, diversity, drinking culture and sexual assault procedures in its initial meetings.

Many parts of the plan are still in the works. However, one of the initiatives will begin taking place next year. The 1+4 Program will allow students to spend a year involved in national or international public service prior to matriculating as a freshman. The aim of the program is to provide students with transformational experiences that will enrich their time spent at Tufts and afterward.

“The first group of students who would be eligible … are the students who are applying this fall,” Provost and Senior Vice President David Harris said. “We’re looking for 50 students that first year, so the vast majority of students in that entering class will be the traditional four year plan, not the 1+4 plan.”

A unique aspect of the program is that there will be financial aid available to students who participate.

“The funding is from philanthropy,” Harris said. “Those students whose families have the means will be expected to pay for it; those students whose families do not will be provided with support.”

According to the program’s website, the donations will come from individuals, foundations and corporations.

Another initiative listed in the Strategic Plan is the introduction of Bridge Professorships, which are specifically dedicated to recruit interdisciplinary faculty. The university has elected to sponsor positions in both cognitive science and international environmental security.

“We expect to have somebody here for fall of 2015,” Harris said.

One of the primary aims of the Bridge Professorships is to create an atmosphere of collaboration among departments.

“A new faculty hire in an interdisciplinary area can provide an impetus for faculty and staff already on campus to work together on new research and teaching projects,” classics Professor Vickie Sullivan told the Daily in an email. “The Bridge Professorships are an exciting initiative precisely because there are many issues and problems that extend beyond any single discipline.”

In addition to new programs like the 1+4 Program and the Bridge Professorships, the Strategic Plan also emphasizes the creation and renovation of spaces on campus. Two major projects that are currently underway include the renovation of 574 Boston Avenue and the construction of a Science and Engineering Center.

“We’ve hired tremendous faculty who have research that is far beyond what has happened in the past … so we need more space to support this research,” Harris said.

This repurposing of spaces will further promote inter-departmental relationships as well.

“[The renovation] is providing opportunities to pull people together in innovative ways,” Harris said.

While the document sets forth more general goals for the university as a whole, Tufts’ individual schools have also established committees to foresee the advancement of the plan on a smaller scale. These committees have also discussed the implications of physical renovations on campus.

“The consideration of physical spaces has also been extremely important in the strategic planning process for Arts and Sciences,” Sullivan said. “[My] committee has been discussing how to enhance the intellectual community in Arts and Sciences, and it sees the creation of new spaces where students, faculty and staff can interact outside of their departments and programs as critical.”

Although it is not explicitly part of the Strategic Plan, an additional physical change that is coming to the Tufts community is the extension of the Green Line onto the Tufts Medford campus. According to the MBTA Green Line project website, two new stops are scheduled to be completed by 2017. One will be in Union Square, and the other, which will eventually be a part of the branch extending to campus, will be on Washington Street in Somerville.

The hiring of a chief diversity officer is another initiative to be taken by the university. This was recommended after the formation of the President’s Council on Diversity in 2012. After taking a brief pause in the search over the summer, the school will resume recruitment for the position in the fall, according to Harris.

“We could not in good faith fill this position over the summer because students … would want to be involved in this search,” Harris said. “Any chief diversity officer who is worthy of Tufts … would want to interact with the community before deciding that this is a place that he or she would want to be involved.”

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