The following announcement was sent to the entire Tufts community on April 27, 2022 from the Office of the Provost.
April 27, 2022
Dear members of the Tufts community,
I hope you are enjoying the start of spring. As I reach the first 100 days in my role as provost and senior vice president ad interim, I wanted to provide you with an overview of some of the work underway in the Provost’s Office.
Strategic Vision At Tufts, the education of our students, the research of our faculty, and our commitment to civic and global engagement is paramount. To respond to the changing landscape of higher education, address current and future global pressures, and build for Tufts’ future, I developed and am implementing an overarching university strategy for education and research. This strategy will propel our mission as a student-centered R1 institution and achieve our strategic ambition of becoming a preeminent mid-sized research institution by establishing: 1) a unified academic enterprise; 2) an innovative ecosystem that increases connectivity between schools while also preserving school autonomy; 3) an inclusive and supportive environment for students, faculty, and staff; and 4) a nimble organizational structure to easily respond and adapt to the changing environment.
This vision was informed by my experience as a faculty member, department chair, and vice provost for research, as well as a listening tour that I conducted with multiple stakeholders in the fall, and it has been refined based on discussions with the deans, the president’s senior leadership team, and the Board of Trustees.
Executive Vice President Mike Howard and I co-chaired an external review of the Provost’s Office to enhance its effectiveness in furthering the university’s mission in academic, research, and administrative excellence and supporting the units under its purview. Nadeem Karimbux, dean of the School of Dental Medicine, and Jim Hurley, vice president for finance and treasurer, served as vice chairs and the review was facilitated by Huron Consulting Group.
The review included broad engagement with the Tufts community and had three primary inputs: 1) a working group to define Tufts’ strategic vision and advise on the role of the provost; 2) stakeholder interviews to identify the strengths of the Provost’s Office and areas of opportunity; and 3) a comparative analysis with our aspirational peers to inform choices about the future organizational structure. From these inputs, there were three main recommendations: 1) reframe the role and responsibilities of the provost around cultivating innovation and incentivizing collaboration across the academic enterprise; 2) reimagine the organizational structure of the Provost’s Office; and 3) strengthen partnerships with key university offices to align academic and administrative efforts.
Organizational Structure & Senior Leadership Team
To support our mission and achieve our strategic ambition, I am enhancing the organizational structure of the office. Building on existing strengths and areas of opportunity, I am bringing together our various support functions around the following six themes: strategy and operations, faculty affairs, research, innovation, education, and DEIJ. I have also added to our established team of associate and vice provosts, creating four new positions to have a senior leader that oversees each of these six areas. These positions and individuals are:
• Strategy & Operations: Kara Charmanski joined the Provost’s Office in January from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research as executive associate provost for strategy and operations. In this new chief of staff-like role, she serves as my strategic partner and directs the executive workflow of the office.
• Faculty Affairs: Kevin Dunn’s role has been expanded and he now serves as vice provost for faculty affairs. In this role, he will bolster support for faculty recruitment, retention and development, including strategies to diversify our faculty, and oversee the tenure and promotion process.
• Research: Following a national search conducted by Isaacson, Miller, I am pleased to share that Bernard Arulanandam will be joining Tufts as our next vice provost for research on July 1. Bernard is currently the Jane and Roland Blumberg Professor in Biology and the vice president for research, economic development, and knowledge enterprise at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Please see the OVPR website for his bio. You can also read more about Bernard in this Tufts Now story.
• Innovation: William (Bill) Shaw, who has served as vice provost for research ad interim since January, will be appointed vice provost for innovation on July 1. In this new role, Bill will focus on developing Tufts’ innovation ecosystem, including convening the innovation community, cultivating intellectual assets, creating meaningful partnerships with external companies and institutions, and capitalizing on entrepreneurial opportunities for cutting-edge activity.
• Education: The new vice provost for education will oversee academic program development and governance, including assessment, work closely with the school deans on academic planning and strategy, establish best practices, and enhance support for students.
• DEIJ: The new vice provost for DEIJ will cultivate and execute key strategic priorities, support, guide, and coordinate efforts, activities, and policies across Tufts, and expand existing efforts to include other areas of diversity, such as antisemitism.
To fill the vice provost for education and the vice provost for DEIJ positions, we have engaged Russell Reynolds Associates to conduct a national search. The search committee for the vice provost for DEIJ will be chaired by Dayna Cunningham, dean of Tisch College, and Ellise LaMotte, associate dean of student diversity, inclusion and success for the Schools of Arts & Sciences and Engineering. The search committee for the vice provost for education will be chaired by Karen Panetta, dean of graduate education and professor of electrical and computer engineering at the School of Engineering, and Peter Brodeur, professor and department chair of medical education at the School of Medicine. Both search committees include representation from across Tufts. The searches have formally launched and are expected to have a duration of five months. The job profiles for both positions will be informed by the Tufts community through open forums and discussions with additional key stakeholders. Internal candidates are encouraged to apply. Additional information about the application process and the open forums will be shared via a separate announcement.
With support from Provost’s Office staff and others, there are several important activities underway. To enhance our graduate education programs, we are assessing where we are, where we want to be, and how we get there. We are also starting to look at ways to enhance support for students by coordinating and expanding resources for key areas. We are facilitating the development of academic partnerships that bring both education and research opportunities. We are exploring new faculty recruitment and retention strategies, including cluster hires and dual career support, and we are reviewing faculty compensation and incentive practices and performance management processes to ensure equity. We are reviewing our existing policies, guidelines, and structures and are developing a comprehensive governance strategy to support the effective and sustainable management of our centers and institutes and enhance their ability to advance our strategic priorities. We are continuing our commitment to civic and global engagement, drawing on our excellence in the area of public impact. We are bringing together our existing efforts and integrating DEIJ into our overarching academic strategy. Lastly, we are making progress towards our antiracist institution initiative and are sharing our work with the Tufts community through town halls and other forums, and we are in the process of reviewing and analyzing the results from our recent climate surveys.
I am looking forward to participating in our treasured spring traditions and commencement activities and wish you all the best for the end of the academic year. Thank you to all of those that I have engaged with over the past several months and have contributed to our work thus far. I look forward to interacting with you more over the summer and plan to host office hours in the fall.
Caroline Attardo Genco
Provost and Senior Vice President ad interim