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January 16, 2007

From: Jamshed Bharucha, Provost & Senior Vice-President
Lisa Coleman, Executive Director, Office of Institutional Diversity

To: Members of the Tufts Community

To those of you just returning for the spring semester, welcome back!

The final two weeks of last semester were difficult for our community, following the publication of a Christmas carol parody directed toward our African American students. This week, as we reflect on Martin Luther King Day, we recognize how much has been accomplished on race relations and yet, how much work remains.

Let all of us at Tufts take this opportunity to commit anew to a sustained process of reflection, listening, dialogue and action to derive fully the many educational benefits of diversity and to make our community more embracing of those who so enrich it but may not experience it as their own. We hope that the extraordinary way in which our community came together following the publication of the carol represents a new beginning. This email message is just one of many ways in which we seek to raise awareness and facilitate discussion about how climate can affect individuals on campus.

In order to better integrate, focus and infuse our diversity efforts throughout the university, we have completed the planning process begun last spring for the establishment of a central Office of Institutional Diversity (OID). The appointment of Dr. Lisa Coleman as the first Executive Director was announced last Friday. Additional staff will be hired to work on compliance and grievance issues that will continue to be the focus of the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO), thereby enabling the Executive Director of OID, working with all senior leaders of the university to be more pro-active in ensuring that decision-making include an examination of the implications for diversity. Improving our campus climate is a process that will not happen overnight, but this is an important step forward.

We also must communicate better about where we are and where we want to be, and listen to the voices that are most often muted. A small step in this direction is to provide more integrated and focused access to the resources, events and programs around the university related to diversity so that we can maximize participation. We will soon be launching two comprehensive websites on diversity: one will be part of the Provost’s website, dealing primarily with academic programs; the other will be the site of the newly established OID, focusing on diversity resources. Until the websites are up and running, we will begin posting information to:

Please refer to this website for a more comprehensive listing, and for more details of some of the items mentioned in this email message.

Meanwhile, we would like to draw your attention to some events that have been scheduled over the next month. Some have been on the books for awhile and others have been planned in response to recent events. Details will be updated on the web site listed above.

  • January 18 – Welcome Back Reception for first-year students of African descent hosted by Trustees
  • January 22 – Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration in Goddard Chapel, 4:00 PM, featuring Beverly Morgan-Welch, Executive Director of the Boston Afro-American History Museum.
  • February 1 – Tisch College Social Policy Forum: Jonathan Kozol, “Still Separate, Still Unequal: The Continuing Decapitation of Potential in America’s Apartheid Schools,” 3:30 PM in ASEAN Auditorium
  • February 1 – Annual Black History Month Kickoff Event, 5:30 PM in Remis Sculpture Court
  • February 7 – Arts, Sciences & Engineering Symposium on Campus Climate and Stereotyping, sponsored by Deans Robert Sternberg and Linda Abriola. Details TBA
  • Other events will be posted to the diversity resources website as they are confirmed

President Bacow has launched the Student Journalism Conference, at which professionalism, ethics, and responsible journalism will be discussed. The leaders of major campus publications (from Tufts and other schools), alumni, and professional media groups will be involved, as will members of our faculty and the Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service.

Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to keep you abreast of some of our efforts in undergraduate admissions. As a result of new resources committed last spring to minority recruitment, our African-American applicant pool has increased more than 20 percent over last year and the Hispanic pool has climbed nearly 15 percent. Of course, larger applicant pools do not necessarily translate into larger enrollments. Steadily expanding our ability to offer need-based financial aid is the key to ensuring progress on this front. That’s why financial aid is our top priority for the “Beyond Boundaries” Capital Campaign.

We hope that all members of the community – not just those who are the most directly affected – will engage with some of the programs listed above and in the linked site. Creating an environment in which all individuals feel empowered to achieve their fullest potential – and in which we learn about the rich texture of peoples and cultures that makes up our world, our nation and, to some extent, our campus – is everyone’s responsibility.