51 Winthrop Street dedicated to impactful alumna, trustee

51 Winthrop St. was dedicated as a function space to honor Alison "Sunny" M. Breed and her prolific achievements as a Tufts alumna. Courtesy Nicholas Pfosi Photography

At the 60th anniversary of the Tufts University Alumni Association’s (TUAA) Senior Awards Ceremony on March 28, 51 Winthrop Street was dedicated as a function space in honor of Alison “Sunny” M. Breed (J ’66, G ’72), according to Timothy Brooks, executive director of Alumni Relations.

“The Board of Trustees and the Tufts Administration unanimously agreed that naming the function space in honor of Sunny M. Breed  would be an appropriate and well-deserved tribute to her legacy of service and commitment to Tufts,” Brooks said.

Breed, a Board of Trustees member, passed away unexpectedly in December 2013 in Long Beach, Calif. 

According to Brooks, the new space has been named the Sunny M. Breed Memorial Hall after Breed’s nickname, “Sunny,” which represented both her personality and the impact she had on others.

During her senior year in 1996, Breed was selected by the TUAA Awards Committee as an honoree exemplifying service, loyalty, commitment and leadership to her community, according to Brooks.

The Tufts Alumni Senior Awards program was established in 1955, and it awards graduating seniors who have demonstrated outstanding student leadership, academic achievement and service to Tufts and the community with a framed certificate and a written citation at a semi-formal ceremony, Brooks said. As of 2009, honorees also receive a $1,000 check, he added.

“Since 1955, there have been over 550 senior awards presented by the TUAA, and most of them are active and engaged alumni today, all underscoring the primary aims of the program,” Brooks said.

The program connects an extensive group of Tufts community members, Brooks said, including alumni volunteers, members of the Alumni Relations staff, faculty, sports team coaches, academic advisors and high-ranking university administrators.

The program’s goals include building strong and positive relationships with top seniors, encouraging the involvement and volunteer service of these seniors as future alumni leaders, providing members of the Alumni Council the opportunity to meet Tufts’ top seniors and allowing honorees the opportunity to thank the members of the council for the recognition and award, Brooks said.

Kate Kaplan, president of the TUAA, said that one of her greatest pleasures as president is the opportunity to preside over awards ceremonies like the Senior Awards.

“The evening was especially poignant, as we were able to dedicate the space we were in to the memory of Sunny [M.] Breed, a mentor of mine,” she said. “She’s a phenomenal example of the ultimate alumni leader, and she herself received a Senior Award in the spring of 1966 — it was so appropriate to connect her memory with this next generation of Tufts alumni leaders.”

This year, the remarks of University President Anthony Monaco at the end of the ceremony were particularly powerful because he felt a connection with Breed herself, as well this year’s seniors, with whom he arrived on campus during their first years at Tufts, Brooks said.

At the time of Breed’s passing, Monaco told Tufts Now in 2013, “I will always be grateful that when I first arrived here, she generously shared her insights on the university and how to build strong connections with our alumni community. I looked forward to the warmth and good sense she brought to every Board of Trustees meeting and will truly miss her.”

According to Brooks, the factors behind dedicating the function space to Breed this year stemmed from the connections between this year’s honorees and Breed and the fact that the honorees exemplified the same dedication as Breed.

Since her undergraduate graduation in 1966, Breed impacted her alma mater and her fellow alumni for 47 years in a wide variety of roles. After graduating, she began her career as an admissions officer from 1966 to 1972 before taking on roles as the Los Angeles Tufts Alliance (LATA) chapter leader from 1980 to 2002 and as an Alumni Council member from 1983 to 2003. 

She received the TUAA Distinguished Service Award  in 1979, and was awarded the TUAA Lifetime Service Award shortly before her death. She also served as TUAA’s Regional Programs Committee chair, and as TUAA president from 2006 to 2008, among other TUAA leadership roles.  

Breed also developed an extensive nonprofit leadership record. She served on the United Way of Greater Los Angeles Board of Directors and was president of the Tongass-Alaska Girl Scouts Council when she lived in Alaska. Breed was also president of the Greater Long Beach Girl Scout Council in California, according to Brooks.

The hope behind the function space’s dedication is “to inspire current students and fellow alumni to step up to the task of serving and supporting Tufts in the exemplary way that Breed did throughout her lifetime,” Brooks said.