The Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life relocated to the newly renovated Barnum Hall , leaving its former home in Lincoln Filene Hall for the first time since its founding. This move also launched the celebration of the 20th anniversary of Tisch College.
The move will not be accompanied by the repurposing of Lincoln Filene Hall, according to Vice President for Operations Barbara Stein. Stein explained that this decision is part of a “long-range capital plan” to demolish the building during renovations to Braker Hall, rather than renovate it; these renovations are expected to start after the Economics Department relocates in the fall of 2021 to the new Joyce Cummings Center, according to Stein.
Stein added that there are currently no plans to build a new building in its place.
In the meantime, Lincoln Filene will continue to be used to fulfill the needs of the university to accommodate student’s academic needs, according to Stein.
“Lincoln Filene will be used to meet the need for a testing center to serve the large number of students with accommodations requiring longer test taking times. The classrooms in Lincoln Filene will also remain in use,” Stein said in an email.
Alan Solomont (A’70), dean of Tisch College, expressed his excitement about the move, noting the stark contrast between the newly renovated Barnum Hall and the dilapidated Lincoln Filene Hall.
“It’s coincidental … that we’re moving from the Lincoln-Filene building, which is a crappy building, and needs more renovation than it’s worth, to what is probably the most iconic building at the university, and at the absolute center of campus,” Solomont said.
Tisch College will now enjoy a much larger space on campus in Barnum Hall. In remarks given at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, University President Anthony Monaco recognized that the move to Barnum Hall is a symbolic one.
“The renovation of Barnum Hall is one of the signature projects in [the] university over the last few years. This space that it’s at is the center of our academic and student life right here on our Academic Quad and is one of the oldest, and most iconic buildings in our university,” Monaco said.
Jennifer McAndrew, director of communications, strategy and planning at Tisch College also emphasized the importance of Tisch College relocating to Barnum Hall.
“Putting Tisch College in such a historic building that’s right at the center of campus sends the message that civic engagement is not just something we do off to the side, some co-curricular nice little service thing to do,” McAndrew said. “It’s actually at the center of our mission as a university, and also at the center of academic learning. It’s therefore symbolic to also have it physically located here.”
Solomont added that Tisch College’s new location indicates its importance to the university, as its influence has grown with respect to Tufts’ academic values and civic responsibility “to prepare students for democracy.”
“It symbolizes how central Tisch College is to the mission of Tufts University. Tufts has a long tradition of being a leader in civic engagement,” Solomont said.”[Higher education] knows it’s important but it’s never been central to the academic mission … Tufts has been a real leader in terms of breaking through that, especially over the last few decades.”
After 20 years of establishing itself at the university and building new programs, the interdisciplinary college outgrew its original space in Lincoln Filene Hall. This also motivated the move to a new space, according to McAndrew.
“On the practical side, it was a space issue. Tisch College has been growing a lot over the last few years as we’re growing on the research side and on the student program side and we’re really outgrowing the space that we had in Lincoln Filene,” McAndrew said.
McAndrew emphasized that the focus of the move is to consolidate the programs already supported by Tisch College and grow into the new space, rather than starting more initiatives.
“We are taking this effort to co-locate some of the research enterprises that we support. For example, the Metric Geometry and Gerrymandering Group (MGGG), which is [co]-headed by Professor Moon Duchin from the math department and is supported by Tisch College. Now her whole group is here with us where as they used to be all over because we didn’t have space,” McAndrew said.
Furthermore, Tisch College will be able to provide new spaces to support student groups and student events.
“We’re taking our student groups that we support, like Jumpstart and the Leonard Carmichael Society, and giving them a space downstairs in the lower level of Barnum,” McAndrew said. “We also have what we consider to be a civic gathering space in the lobby with a screen where we can show election results, debates, the impeachment trial and anything that students might want to gather to talk about and watch.”
For the 2018 midterm election cycle, Tisch College co-hosted an election results watch party in Hotung Café in the Mayer Campus Center, rather than its own space in Lincoln Filene Hall.
Solomont expressed his hope that Tisch College’s move to Barnum Hall will help create space that students can use as a gathering place, which welcomes student input to foster a sense of community.
“I hope you will all consider Barnum a true civic gathering place. And I believe we need that right now. Perhaps more than ever together in 2020, we will not only celebrate the 20th anniversary of Tisch College, we will also experience a national election of vital importance,” Solomont said. “We hope Tisch College can play a central role in providing that civic space both physically and through our programs, courses and events.”
Solomont emphasized the need for student input to cultivate that sense of community.
“We don’t just value your participation. We need it,” Solomont said.