News from the top
University Information Technology (UIT) announced in October that a new university-wide learning management system (LMS), based on the open source LMS platform Sakai, will replace Blackboard in the fall. UIT in January chose “trunk” as the name for the new system from close to 300 submissions to the naming contest.
Following the weeks of protests that brought an end to former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s rule earlier in the semester, students contemplating studying abroad in the Middle East next year were forced to reconsider their plans. No Tufts students were studying in Egypt at the time, and some Tufts students still plan on enrolling in the fall through Middlebury College’s program.
Following a TCU resolution last fall supporting the creation of an Africana studies department and major, Dean of Arts and Sciences Joanne Berger-Sweeney in February announced the creation of a task force to consider options for integrating Africana studies into the Tufts curricula. The findings of the task force are expected to be presented to Berger-Sweeney for consideration this month.
Citing safety concerns, University President Lawrence Bacow in March declared that the university would no longer sanction the annual Naked Quad Run. The announcement prompted “NQRevolution,” a peaceful and sober student protest during which students, some of whom were partially nude, ran on the Res Quad.
The Office of Residential Life and Learning for the first time conducted its housing process online, a departure from the previous process in which students signed up for housing by filling out paperwork in Cousens Gymnasium. The online sign-ups ran relatively smoothly, with only a few technical glitches.
The Office of Undergraduate Admissions saw the largest-ever applicant pool and lowest acceptance rate in Tufts’ history for the class of 2015. The university saw an 11-percent increase in applications, prompting the acceptance rate to drop from 24.5 percent last year to 22 percent this year.
Leaving the university
Following University President Lawrence Bacow’s announcement last year to leave the university with the class of 2011, a number of high-level university officials announced plans to step down at the end of this semester. Among them, Provost and Senior Vice President Jamshed Bharucha on Feb. 6 announced his decision to leave the university to become president of The Cooper Union in New York City. Vice Provost Peggy Newell will assume the position beginning July 1 until a permanent replacement is found.
Director of Tufts Medical Center Ellen Zane, credited with revitalizing Tufts Medical during her seven years in the post, announced on Feb. 17 her decision to retire from the position effective Sept. 30. Zane will continue to serve as a vice chairman of the Board of Trustees and a consultant to Tufts Medical for a year after her retirement.
Associate Provost and Professor of Mechanical Engineering Vincent Manno will in July leave Tufts to join Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering as its next provost and dean of faculty.
After serving less than a year at Tufts, Tanya McGinn Paolo vacated her post as Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life in February, leaving the Greek community once again without a permanent director. A search for a replacement began immediately following Paolo’s departure, but a new director is not expected to begin until the fall.
Construction crews rolled onto the Tufts campus this spring, as work began on a new athletic center and a building to serve as the temporary headquarters for the university’s two-year project to replace the Student Information System (SIS) technology.
Construction began on the 7,200-square foot building April 1. The building, to be located in front of South Hall, will house 50 Student Services and UIT staff members from across Tufts’ schools beginning this summer.
Construction began in April on the new Steve Tisch Sports and Fitness Center, a three-story, 42,000-square foot complex, which will be built between the Gantcher Center and Cousens Gym. The new center is planned for completion by fall 2012.
The REZQuad Café, owned and operated by Tufts Student Resources since it opened last year, was forced to close its doors last week. The university, which owns the space in Miller Hall, decided to offer the area for use as rehearsal space for student performance groups and to house a new Tufts Institute for the Environment doctoral program.
Visiting the Hill
Several big-name speakers visited Tufts this semester, sharing their thoughts with the community on everything from children’s entertainment to the future of investigative journalism.
Archbishop Demetrios, the head of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, spoke Feb. 16 in Goddard Chapel on the universality of the messages of the Book of Psalms across many faith traditions.
Entertainer Bill Cosby was honored Feb. 25 as part of the Eliot-Pearson Awards for Excellence in Children’s Media, and former CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric on April 11 discussed the rise of new media at the Edward R. Murrow Forum on Issues in Journalism.
Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) delivered the inaugural Alan D. Solomont Lecture in Cohen Auditorium April 8. At the lecture, the first of a series founded by Tufts alum and current ambassador to Spain and Andorra Alan Solomont (A ’70), Pelosi discussed issues ranging from the ongoing battle over federal budget to the involvement of women in politics.
Famed political journalist and author Bob Woodward, best known for his coverage of the Watergate break-in and cover-up scandal, delivered the semester’s Richard E. Snyder Presidential Lecture, titled “From Nixon to Obama,” on April 25. In an interview with the Daily, Woodward emphasized the importance of investigative journalism in an age of increasing government secrecy.
Rallying for a cause
Following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan and subsequent concern over radioactive leakage from nuclear plants, the university decided not to cancel the Tufts-in-Japan program in Kanazawa for its spring semester. The university did, however, authorize a voluntary departure and tuition refund for the five students who were studying in Japan for the semester.
Two separate groups of Tufts students went down to New Orleans over spring break to help revitalize the city nearly six years after Hurricane Katrina’s destruction. Students traveled with the Tufts Christian Fellowship to aid in city cleanup efforts, while others with the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service helped tutor local students.
At last month’s ninth annual Relay for Life, Jumbos shattered expectations when they raised $115,000 for the American Cancer Society, an unprecedented sum for a Tufts Relay event. The event also boasted record participation rates, hosting 76 teams of donors and additional individual participants.
The President’s Marathon Challenge fielded a team of 210 runners for the 115th Boston Marathon on April 15. Runners collectively raised $300,000 for the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. All but one of the registered runners finished the race.
Student movers and shakers
A new Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate-funded bike-share program, Tufts Bikes, hit the Hill early last month with the aim of encouraging bike usage on campus. Students, who can rent the wheels for free from Tisch Library, flocked to the racks.
On a more serious note, a group comprised of current and former students calling itself Jumboleaks released on a website a confidential document outlining what it alleged was a list of the university’s direct investments in the year 2010 after receiving the document from an undisclosed source. The group cited dissatisfaction with the university’s lack of fiscal transparency and investment in corporations the group considered socially irresponsible.
This semester, Greek houses began efforts to reach out to the LGBT community after incidents concerning verbal abuse against members of the community occurred inside fraternity houses. The two communities came together to host Shane Windmeyer, an activist for improving LGBT life on college campuses nationwide, and Theta Chi hosted an Ally Appreciation Soulfood Dinner. Last month, Greek-affiliated students donated blood on behalf of men who have sex with men, who are barred from donating by a federal statute.
A group of students assembled on the Academic Quad during the year’s final April Open House events to discuss with attendees, including prospective students, what they perceived as a misrepresented racial climate at Tufts.
Junior Tomas Garcia was elected TCU Senate President last week in a landslide victory against opponent Ben Richards, also a junior. Garcia, who has served on the Senate for two years, won with a platform of experience over Richards’ campaign for change after a relatively uneventful week of campaigning.