Tisch College dean adds office hours to increase student engagement

During his first office hour, Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life Dean Alan Solomont speaks with junior George Behrakis on Feb. 11. (Seohyun Shim / The Tufts Daily)

Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life Dean Alan Solomont began hosting monthly office hours yesterday. Upcoming office hours, which were announced in a Jumbo Digest email sent to students on Feb. 3, will take place in Solomont’s office on March 11 and April 22 from 12 to 1:15 p.m.

In an email to the Daily, Solomont explained that the office hours are intended to center the voices of students so that Tisch College may respond to them.

“At Tisch College we believe in the power of young people, at Tufts and beyond, to make real and lasting change in our communities, our nation and the world,” Solomont said. “We know that we can’t do any of this well without student voices. We want to hear from students and reflect their ideas. Setting aside this time for office hours is one way to make sure this happens.”

Introduction of the new office hours aims to increase student access to Solomont and to further Tisch College’s broader civic engagement agenda among students, according to Jennifer McAndrew, Tisch College’s director of communication, strategy and planning.

“It’s sort of a two-way street, and it’s both for students to have access to him and ask him about his career or get career advice themselves, but also for us to get feedback from students and to really make clear that we value feedback in the form of the dean’s own time,” she said.

Solomont hosted the first office hours yesterday, which were attended by George Behrakis. Behrakis, a junior, was the first person to take part in the office hours and reflected positively on the experience.

“He truly cares about students and civic engagement at Tufts,” Behrakis said of Solomont. “He’s always open to new ideas, ways of promoting dialogue and furthering Tisch College’s goal of encouraging student involvement in politics.”

Jessica Byrnes, special projects administrator for Tisch College, said that the office hours will help promote Tisch College’s efforts on campus.

“I think it’s been an ongoing effort to try to make […] the Tufts community more aware of Tisch College and the work we’re doing, and that includes access to our readership,” she said. 

McAndrew said that the decision to add office hours also reflects Tisch College’s goals of encouraging civic engagement both on and off campus.

“We want students to be empowered with the skills and knowledge to be active citizens in their broader communities and the nation and the world, but also right here on their Tufts community campus,” she said.

Diane Ryan, associate dean at Tisch College, added that the office hours will create a window of time for students who have previously not been able to meet with Solomont due to scheduling conflicts to reach him.

“It’s better to dedicate time, and that probably does two things,” Ryan said. “[Having the office hours] communicates that he wants to meet with students, and it also, I think, makes him more accessible to students who maybe hadn’t thought, ‘oh, it’s possible to go and meet [Solomont], who’s had these amazing life experiences that I want to know more about.’”

Solomont expressed optimism about the opportunity to interact with more students.

“I look forward to it — in fact, it’s one of the best parts of my job,” he said.

Students can sign up for a 20-minute time slot with Solomont via Judith Taliaferro, administrative assistant to the dean, at [email protected]