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Diversity at Tufts: From 2001 and Beyond
Jamshed Bharucha, Provost and Senior Vice President
Presentation to AS&E Faculty
March 29, 2006


  • Strategic vision
  • Recent success and achievements
  • Current initiatives
  • Other University-wide issues
  • Challenges ahead
  • Q&A

A Strategic Theme

Some of you recall from an article that Larry wrote for the online magazine, and I believe he gave a version of that speech here to the faculty, called “A University Poised.”; This is a quote from it. “We must have a diverse learning environment. We must embrace diversity with every possible dimension and learn from our differences.”

Now, in 2004, we submitted an administrative proposal to the Board of Trustees to endorse eight strategic themes for the university, and these will sound familiar to those of you who have been here for a few years. I’ll go through it very quickly: great faculty, great students — that’s what a university is all about — better diverse environment, a global perspective, life sciences and the environment, active citizenship and knitting together the schools, and integrating teaching and research. These are things we’ve talked at various times about.

This exercise was really one with the Trustees of trying to get a sense of who we are and where we go by distilling some of the strengths we have across the university and some of the strategies that we might want to proceed moving forward.

The core value of diversitywas described in this discussion with the Trustees. The following is the language that we proposed to them, which I have endorsed:

  • Tradition of educating students of promise regardless of need
  • Inherent educational value of a diverse learning community
  • Preparation of our students for leadership in an increasingly diverse society
  • Importance of:
    • understanding of the unique historical context of race relations in our country
    • fostering a community that leads the way in addressing this legacy

Top Diversity Priorities for Tufts
The top diversity priorities for Tufts are financial aid, as Larry mentioned, for undergraduate students, for graduate and professional students, and recruitment and retention of senior leadership, faculty, students, administration and staff.

  • Financial Aid

Our financial aid is essential for diversity. It’s arguably the most important thing we can do, and it’s a top priority for the capital campaign. Larry mentioned the Pritzker Challenge, which is focused on advancing diversity in our undergraduate students, and has now reached a total of $15 million, cash that’s actually working for us now on the financial aid front, and there’s another $5 million that would be matched to that, making it a total fund of $20 million devoted to the advancement of diversity at the undergraduate level.

We need to increase the financial aid budget by two to four percent faster than tuition just to maintain our diversity. At some other time, I could go through the arithmetic of this with you. The arithmetic of financial aid is such that it’s an elusive target. Every time you raise tuition to get more resources to pay faculty salaries and other things, like energy costs, it becomes even harder for us. We have to raise the financial aid proportionately more.

Budget challenges within AS&E – maintaining financial aid is top priority
Certainly, as we faced budget challenges this year, significant challenges that we mentioned earlier, because of energy costs and other things, we have held to our need to increase the financial aid budget significantly over and above the increase in tuition so that we can continue to bring in a diverse class.

Return on Omidyar Gift
The return on the Omidyar gift of $100 million that Larry has reported to you before, will go towards advancing our academic needs within Arts and Sciences, but two pieces have been carved out. One is the financial aid for economically disadvantaged students to take summer classes. After they get here, if they’re having some academic difficulties, instead of going back to get a summer job because they’re on financial aid, they can stay here and take some courses. Jim Glaser has been working on this program. A university-wide loan forgiveness program for students or alumni who are committed to public service. This will be implemented by Rob Hollister, Lonnie Norris, and Steve Bosworth, who are chairing the committee that’s going to develop this program.

Graduate and professional students
For graduate and professional students, last year you’ll recall we launched a graduate competitiveness initiative in which we put $1 million per year from central resources into our Ph.D. programs with three goals in mind. I wrote to the deans giving them three criteria for allocating the money that we’re giving to the schools. One is to recruit top Ph.D. students, one is to diversify the Ph.D. programs, and one is to cut across disciplines. This initiative has enabled us to move very significantly on all three of those fronts.

This infusion of money from the university has inspired one of our donors, Jane Friedman, to give us a gift of in excess of $3 million for Friedman Fellows. These are fellowships for Ph.D. students at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and I have met with those Friedman Fellows who have already helped diversify the class enormously.

  • Recruitment

Improved diversity of senior leadership and administration
Larry mentioned progress in diversifying the Board of Trustees and Academic Council, and I’ll just summarize some of the data. The Academic Council, which is essentially the Council of Deans and Vice Presidents, has gone from four to ten women, and people of color have gone from one to five. In the Administrative Council, which is the council that contains the Vice Presidents and the EADs, or the Executive Associate Deans, sometimes called Executive Administrative Deans, have gone from two to five women and zero to three people of color.

Among our deans of schools, we now have a majority of school deans who are either women or people of color, and we are hopefully coming close to the end of our search for the dean of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, and we’re very hopeful that there we will find a woman. That is a field that is now substantially a majority of women in terms of students, and we really would like to see a woman lead that school, in which case this majority would be even stronger. In fact, there will be a majority of women as deans of schools. Very few institutions I think have that kind of distribution.

In our senior to middle management, we’ve worked with a number of these areas on diversification. The Provost’s Office, the Office of University Relations, Advancement, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and Information Technology, where the top position is now held by a woman. It’s certainly our view that this represents nothing short of a transformation of the diversity of the senior leadership of this university. We are certainly very proud of that. There’s work still to be done.

On the faculty/staff side, we’re working with all the Deans and VPs to support efforts in faculty and staff. We’re working hard on more proactive hiring, not just waiting for people to knock on our door or to show up, but to actually search. We have some examples of that: successful examples and not so successful examples. But as Larry said, we need all faculty to have a personal stake in our ongoing success as well as I would say all administrators, and we have repeated discussions in various forums about that.

Recent Successes and Achievements

In the faculty of Arts, Sciences and Engineering, we have some notable successes in academic fields in which women and blacks are under-represented nationally. In Economics, we were just cited as number one by the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education for the percentage of black faculty in our Economics department. Congratulations to Economics. Lynne tells me that she’s fairly sure that our Economics department today also has a higher proportion of women on the faculty then most if not all comparable departments.

Computer Science now has the majority of women faculty, thanks to efforts of a lot of people. The current chair is Carla Brodley, who is here, and Diane Souvaine, former chair, is not here today, and Dean Linda Abriola. There’s an effort on the part of a number of people. These things don’t just happen by chance. As you know, if you’ve been reading the press reports recently, that kind of diversity has not been accomplished yet in the student body in Computer Science. And yet in the leadership positions, we have been able to exceed the diversity of the pipeline as a whole.

In Engineering, our Engineering School has more African-Americans in it than any comparable engineering school of our size.
Now, there are many other fields in which we have a lot of work to do, and we are certainly committed to working hard on them. In the tenure and promotion domain, the ACE, which is a national association, has launched an initiative of family and life issues. Larry was part of a panel at ACE that produced a report that was calling on universities to take seriously the family and life issues that impact primarily women. Men to some extent, too, but let’s face it, primarily women in the tenure process.

Following that white paper issued by a group of presidents, there was a conference that ACE organized sponsored by the Sloan Foundation, that I attended. I invited Susan Ostrander and Dawn Terkla to go with me. We went to Chicago, where we got a sense of what other institutions were thinking and what other people doing research in this area are thinking in terms of how we can better support our faculty in the face of life and family issues that might not enable them to reach their fullest potential. That’s principally children and elder care.

Some of the current strategies that we’re employing, including extension of the tenure clock. Former Dean Susan Ernst pushed that through a few years ago. It was long in coming, but it’s an excellent program. We have now looked at programs around the country, and feel that this is a really good program where you get an extension of one year on the tenure clock for every child for which you are the primary care giver.
Arts, Sciences and Engineering has in place a mentoring program on the leadership of the Dean and his associates. Mentoring is extremely important for our junior faculty, and it goes for majority faculty as well as minority faculty and women. Each junior faculty member is paired with a senior mentor from outside the department to enable the person to have somebody from whom to seek advice.

The Junior Research Leaves announced a while back give all junior faculty members on the tenure track the equivalent of a full year’s leave of teaching so that they can focus on their scholarly work and maintain the quality of their teaching when they are in the class, giving them the full opportunity to reach their potential as teachers and scholars.
Faculty development is something we’re working on, on a number of fronts. We can certainly talk more about that another time. There are ongoing challenges. Certainly the things we’re doing don’t cover everything we ought to be doing.

Current initiatives

Some other initiatives: You’ve heard about DILES: Diversity and Inclusive Leadership for Engineers and Scientists. Linda Abriola and some of her colleagues have been responsible for making that happen.

We’ve launched the Diversity and Cognition Lecture Series, which the Diversity Fund supports, and Sam Sommers really runs it. It brings in leaders to speak about the issues of diversity and cognition.

The Tufts Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning, which is the current name, which will change. This is the teaching center we talked about earlier that we will be announcing soon, and launching immediately. This is something that has been a priority for Bob. It enables us to provide faculty across the university with resources that really match our aspirations for the kind of teaching we expect at our institution, even as we expect strong levels of scholarship. As our student body becomes increasingly diverse, it’s more and more important that we as teachers going into the classroom or outside the classroom, advising and mentoring students, understand something about the experiences that people might have coming from a very diverse set of backgrounds.

The University Committee on Teaching and Faculty Development is run by Associate Provost Mary Lee. She founded that a couple of years ago, and that brings together people from around the university. This group has conducted workshops all across the university in teaching and mentoring, and recently they had a workshop on Diversity in the Classroom and Outside the Classroom. This committee will become the principal advisory committee to the teaching center.

The PACE Center is a research center that Bob is loading from Yale to Tufts, and as some of you know, it’s been devoted to research on assessing adaptive forms of intelligence that aren’t necessarily easily assessed on the standardized tests, SATs that we typically use. The more diverse set of backgrounds students come from, the more diverse should be our assessment methods so that we can tap into the abilities students might have that might enable them to be successful. In the admissions process, Bob and Lee Coffin had already pilot-tested some questions on the undergraduate application to try to draw out some of that evidence of abilities that students might have that are not found necessarily in the current application process, certainly not in the standardized tests, and starting next year, that will become part of the formal application.

There’s the Leadership Minor, which again is an initiative of the Dean of Arts and Sciences, and this has every promise to attract a disproportionate number of minority students.

Assistant Provost Elise Ayhi has started, has launched, and convenes the Tufts Diversity Network which brings together individuals from around the university to discuss issues of diversity and to help advise on the subject.

We are a founding member of the New England Consortium on Higher Education Recruitment, and Margery Davies has been representing us in this, which is a consortium of folks in Boston area universities that are thinking about how we can help with espousal hiring and other kinds of challenges that occur in the recruitment process at universities in the Boston area.

The First Year Scholars Program, which Marilyn Glater has been involved in, is another important initiative.

A diversity recruiter position was created a few years ago in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and Assistant Provost Elise Ahyi has started GAPSARC, which is the Graduate and Professional Student Admissions Recruitment Committee. It’s a committee of admissions officers from around the university who get together and talk about challenges in diversity in all the admissions fronts.

The department of Urban Environmental Planning and Policy now has a Neighborhood Fellows program, the brainchild of James Jennings. The Provost’s Office is funding that program. The idea behind that program is to bring community leaders from urban communities in the Boston area into our master’s program here at Tufts, which tends to be very white. The students are training to work in urban neighborhoods that are very diverse. The purpose of this program is to encourage people who are already working as community leaders in urban settings, who tend to be people of color, to come into the graduate program. Also for diversifying the class and enriching the other students by their experience and their presence. It’s a tremendously successful program, and we expect to continue it.

The Provost’s Office is also funding an initiative in the education department called UTTC, Urban Teacher Training Collaborative, which gives our master’s students internships in public schools that will give them the kind of preparation that they need if they are to teach in those urban public schools. Without these internships, we would not be able to recruit the kinds of students who are committed to working in urban public schools. We have increased our internship to, I believe, 10,000 or something right now. It’s now the best internship stipend of any master’s program in teaching in the Boston area. I meet with those students every year. They are almost all students of color who say they come to Tufts to get a master’s degree only because of this internship program because it enables them to spend a significant amount of time training in the schools, the choice schools in which they wish to teach later on.

Other University-wide issues

The Medical School just received a grant from Genzyme for the High School Student Summer Program, which is a program that brings in selected, principally minority, high school students for the summer to work in laboratories with the Medical School. They are engaged in the health professions and encouraged to go in to the health professions.

We changed the non-discrimination policy, and the Trustees voted on that in November to include gender identity and expression. The restroom conversion project has been implemented across the Medford campus. In case you’re wondering what’s happening, we will find ways to better communicate and educate the community. It’s an important initiative for us to launch it.

The Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action office was moved to Ballou in 2001. That’s important symbolically. That was something that Larry did after he arrived. Since the departure of the Director, we have done a lot of thinking. Some of the planned changes include a joint report of the successor to the President and the Vice President for Human Resources, junior staff positions, and a charge expanded to include under-represented groups across the university.

Challenges ahead

There are many challenges ahead. Ongoing recruitment of students, faculty and staff is something we always have to work on, and we have to work together on that. Retention is something that we need to pay a lot of attention to. Campus climate as well. Communication we need to do better, and integration across the university.