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Bacow to serve on Obama’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Bacow hopes to use experiences from Tufts tenure to strengthen HBCUs

Published: Monday, March 8, 2010

Updated: Tuesday, March 9, 2010 06:03

University President Lawrence Bacow


University President Lawrence Bacow will serve on Obama’s advisory board on HCBUs.

University President Lawrence Bacow on Feb. 26 was appointed a member of President Barack Obama's reestablished President's Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), formed to provide advice on strengthening the educational capacity of such institutions.

According to the executive order reestablishing the White House Initiative on HBCUs, the board is tasked with exploring how to improve "the identity, visibility, and distinctive capabilities and overall competitiveness of HBCUs," as well as engaging in a national dialogue on HBCU initiatives and securing funding for their aims.

Bacow went to Washington, D.C. to attend the signing of the executive order for the initiative, created in 1981 by Ronald Reagan.

Obama at the event expressed his confidence in the ability of the board, which is made up of 11 college and university presidents, deans, financial experts and prominent members of the African American community.

"I am pleased to announce the appointments of these talented, diverse and accomplished individuals to the Board of Advisors on [HBCUs], all of whom have shown a deep commitment to the mission of these institutions, which are as relevant and necessary to our society today as they were when first established," Obama said at the event.

John Silvanus Wilson, Jr., executive director of the White House Initiative on HBCUs, explained that Bacow was appointed because of his legacy at Tufts.

"President Bacow is there because he has had a great tenure at Tufts, and has had a great impact on Tufts," he told the Daily. "We want on this advisory board [people] who understand transitional leadership, and Larry Bacow is one of those presidents."

Wilson highlighted in particular Bacow's fiscal stewardship at Tufts.

"We hope that Bacow and his team will be able to transfer [to the advisory board] the administrative practices ... and the financial management that Tufts has in place ... [which] are the principle reason why Tufts is so well off."

Bacow echoed these sentiments, expressing his hope that his tenure at Tufts would help him with his work on the board.

"I am honored to serve," Bacow said in an e-mail to the Daily. "I hope to be able to draw from my Tufts experience to try to help strengthen our nation's [HBCUs]."

Obama at the event said that it was import to reestablish this initiative "to ensure that these schools remain the beacons that they've been for more than a century and a half." The initiative is part of an Obama Administration goal to raise the proportion of college graduates by 2020.

Bacow hopes that serving on this board will allow him to devote more attention to issues of diversity by strengthening HBCUs.

"These institutions play a critical role in providing access and opportunity to so many young people" he said in an e-mail. "As someone who cares deeply about these issues, I am excited by the opportunity to help them fulfill their historic mission in this challenging environment."

Africana Center Director Katrina Moore expressed her enthusiasm for Bacow's appointment.

"I understand the importance of having HBCUs, and I'm very excited the president has [been chosen] to address their needs," she said. "[It's] a testament to what he has accomplished while here and his feeling toward diversity-related issues."

Moore cited the creation of the Office of Institutional Diversity as one of Bacow's key accomplishments as president in the area of promoting diversity.

"We have a ways to go, but we have a president who is very supportive and open to helping us resolve issues of diversity," Moore said. "I really feel he will provide lots of experience [to the board]."

Professor of History Peniel Joseph agreed and expressed his belief that Bacow's focus on increasing diversity in higher education will bring a unique perspective to the board.

"Bacow has really at Tufts and elsewhere shown a real commitment to access and opportunity in higher education," Joseph said. "One of the things you always want [on these types of boards] is people from a wide spectrum of backgrounds. [The appointment] is a comment on his own diverse background."

According to Wilson, six of the 11 board members are presidents of HBCUs as part of an attempt to broaden the perspectives represented.

"The board is traditionally heavily populated with HBCU presidents," he said. "[This is the] first year where, with approval from the HBCU presidents, we are really diversifying the membership."

Wilson added that the number of members would in the future be increased to 25.

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10 comments Log in to Comment

Thu Mar 11 2010 22:22
In response to the last post, I agree with your sentiments.

Tufts is a lousy neighbor. Frankly I'm surprised any non-students dare live within a block or two of the University. It might make sense for all of them to let the University buy them out and move somewhere more hospitable. Then Tufts can expand its campus, build more dorms, and "keep the lunatics in the asylum".

I understand that people feel that they should be safe in their homes. It would be wonderful if we could give them that. But dealing with Tufts is like talking to a brick wall. Much better to move deeper into Medford and get away from us.

Thu Mar 11 2010 18:50
umm... to the posted comment about living in the neighborhoods around Tufts. as you stated:

"--and to the townie comment, until the end of time drunk college students are going to make noise at night. FACT. Deal with it or choose another street. Just being a realist. That doesn't make Bacow any less of a 'program manager".

I'm not just talking about simple "noise", I'm talking crimes. Just because students will be drinking "till the end of time" is no excuse for Tufts to not to take action to improve things? Your "love it or leave it" perspective is narrow minded. Is that what Tufts is teaching you? Good people and good families share these neighborhoods with the students. These neighbors should not just have to sit back and live with this crap from Thursday to Saturday night or have to move elsewhere to gain some peace. It's unwarranted stress. Imagine the neighborhood you grew up in with unruly students doing whatever they want without consequences and a university admin who turns their backs on your parents complaints. It's disrespectful! Students pissing in your parent's front yard, vandalizing your mom or dad's car in the driveway. Good times!!! Thumbs up dude! Love it or leave it, right! I lived right next to Tufts for four years and nothing changed despite neighbor complaints. Again, I'm talking crimes here. I have witnessed students coming out of the doors of Wilson House (an off campus dorm) vandalizing cars, jumping and running across the tops of cars, bashing them with tree branches (sounds ridiculous but this happened). ...vandalizing other people's personal property ...public urination, trespassing, being a public nuisance... etc. I wrote Bacow about this, was directed to talk to the staff who manage neighborhood relations. These staffers where incompetent, they were not problem solvers and did nothing. What will it take? Again lived their for four years. Nothing changed. The Somerville Police instructed neighbors to call them and not the Tufts Police because the Tufts Police do nothing. Tufts Police or security should get off their asses out of their cruisers and get on bikes or on foot. Ride and walk up and down the neighborhood streets and improve the security and public relations. Make a presence and set some examples. Try something new.... I think they like to skirt some of the responsibility by the fact that it's not Tufts campus, it's off campus. Tufts also probably hesitates to discipline students who are paying them $50,000 a year to attend. Kicking some Double Jumbo alum's kid out for breaking the rules is not good press and not good for the Tufts wallet. Ironically Bacow has credentials as an Urban Planner - use your skills man! The basic fact that he receives complaints, lives a few blocks from these streets in his cush' palace and nothing has improved, is proof to me he lacks some toughness and leadership. Bacow, take the slippers and silk robe off, put down the cake, put some jeans and a good pair of walkin' shoes on and stroll around the streets, listen to the Police scanner see what's happening in the neighborhood. How bout parking your Porsche on the street next to Wilson House for a month. Do something man!!! Yes... I question his abilities as a "program manager" :)

Thu Mar 11 2010 13:28
For the record, I've never meet anyone on campus who did not love President Bacow. Maybe things have changed from '10 on. Yes, Bacow and his administration could have done a lot more in certain areas and there is still a lot to be done, but the man has listened, made a lot of progress and is loved dearly by his students. I grew up middle class, minority and the financial aid package I received as well as the vast majority of students I spoke to while at Tufts (of similar background and different) without a doubt substantially trumped those from any other school to which they applied. Maybe the problem is college tuition in general because Tufts did a much better job than its competitors.
--and to the townie comment, until the end of time drunk college students are going to make noise at night. FACT. Deal with it or choose another street. Just being a realist. That doesn't make Bacow any less of a 'program manager.' Congratulations to Mr. Bacow! I commend him and the appointment.
Wed Mar 10 2010 15:58
@Anonymous on Mar 9 @ 13:28....AMEN to all you said!!!!!! Not many in the 2 communities that Tufts sits on can even afford the tuition. PLEASE!
Tue Mar 9 2010 15:32
I'm not a rich bleeding heart or a townie. Ask the Provost about how much aid Tufts gives out as compared to it's competition. Four or five years ago he was addressing the staff at a meeting and stated the fact that they give out the least amount of aid. are you doing your homework - I'm giving you an incomplete dude. ..."while tufts isn't need blind yet..." now that's not discriminatory !?! How many of your "poor" fellow applicants were skipped over for less qualified more "well to do" applicants? Do you really think schools who state they are need blind are truly anyways, please. ...what fraction of income did our parents pay for their college education or the generation before? answer: not what we are expected to pay out now. ask our middle class champion Elizabeth Warren about that. $50,000+ yr is a lot of dough bro. A lot of middle class American's simply struggle to support their families (or themselves) on this kinda income or less. Are poor students encourage to apply and try to pay their way through such high tuition's? - no, it's discouraging. Tufts is primarily a school for the wealthy. College costs are out of control. The UC Berkeley students get it, why not you?
Tue Mar 9 2010 13:28
i hate bacow and i hate tufts but it undeservedly gets a lot of crap for it's high tuition. it seems the only people i hear complaining about it are rich bleeding hearts. however, i think if you were to talk to people who are actually poor at tufts you'd hear a different story. while tufts isn't need blind yet, that doesn't stop them from providing extremely generous assistance to those who truly need it. i can personally say tufts exceeded the US gov't and FAFSA recommendation by $5,000 each year while giving me minimal no-interest loans. they offered me the best financial package by far with the least amount of debt. a lot better than places like nyu where they straight up tell you you'll be lucky to get financial aid. i know this is only one person but speaking with other tufts students who are on financial aid, i've heard similar stories. so maybe you should talk to someone who's actually poor at tufts before commenting on what you "think you've heard."

that being said, bacow being appointed to this committee is a joke. bacow may have been a transitional president but he did nothing other than slightly elevate our reputation. i'm still waiting for everything else at tufts (faculty, administration, buildings, etc) to catch up and "transition." terrible narcissistic president, terrible appointment.

Tue Mar 9 2010 00:55
Mon Mar 8 2010 14:55
townies are funny
Mon Mar 8 2010 14:24
“...shown a real commitment to access and opportunity in higher education". joke!

Doesn't it cost like $50,000 plus a year to go to Tufts? Now that's diversity. Education only for the rich! I think I've heard Tufts gives the least tuition assistance within it's group of competitors too. So maybe a student can go in debt for the rest of their life.. Another thing, Bacow couldn't even maintain peace in his own back yard, the neighborhood around campus, with the students drinking, causing major disturbances, committing crimes the Tufts Police and staff would cover up. I wish the US the best with him trying to manage a national program when he cannot even manage the peace at Tufts and lower tuition costs. joke!

Mon Mar 8 2010 12:05
In the 9th paragraph, it should be "principal" and not "principle" reason.

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