Bacow more than an administrator

Since his inauguration in 2001, University President Lawrence Bacow has proved himself to be far more than simply a figurehead of the Tufts community. It is easy to recount Bacow’s many measurable achievements and contributions to the university as a whole, but the impression that he has left on the Tufts undergraduate campus, though more difficult to quantify, is equally important.

Bacow has made it clear, time and time again, that his personal involvement in students’ lives takes a high priority. He will be remembered by future generations of Tufts students and faculty as the economist who strived to make the university more financially accessible and as the president who improved alumni and town-gown relations.

While these accomplishments will persist in our memories, they are not the only facets of his presidency that will stand out in our minds. We will remember Bacow as the runner who woke up at the crack of dawn to train with the Tufts marathon team as part of his President’s Marathon Challenge, bonding with his students through the pain of early-morning exercise in the bitter Boston winter air. We will take with us the memory of a welcoming host who, along with his wife Adele Fleet Bacow, took the initiative to open Gifford House to every member of the graduating class to dine with them during his or her last year on the Hill. And when other students boast that their university’s president attends their student performances, we’ll be able to proudly reminisce about the time that our president not only attended but made a cameo appearance in Tufts Opera Ensemble’s performance of “Dido and Aeneas” in February 2008.

Bacow has set a precedent for future Tufts leaders. He has established the standard that it is not enough to crunch numbers and push papers all day while ignoring the value of maintaining a relationship with the student body. He often remarks that while now he is president of the university, he has always been a teacher first and foremost. Carrying this philosophy into his presidency, Bacow has made it his priority to help foster educational experiences for his students that are as fulfilling as they can possibly be. His task force on improving the undergraduate experience successfully opened up opportunities for students to become more involved with research and work directly with faculty, encouraging student involvement in all aspects of the university.

When Bacow leaves the Hill in June 2011, he will certainly be missed for his accomplishments and leadership, but most of all for his dedication to improving all aspects of the community, both on and off campus. We hope that Tufts’ next president will carry on his tradition of being not only an administrator but also a friend, an ally and a teacher.