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Fall 2012: A semester in review

Published: Monday, December 10, 2012

Updated: Monday, December 10, 2012 15:12


Virginia Bledsoe / The Tufts Daily

Administrative changes


The beginning of the semester saw new Provost and Senior Vice President David Harris’ arrival on the Hill, coming off his work as the interim head of Cornell University’s Africana Studies and Research Center and as an advisor for the Obama administration. As provost—the chief academic officer at Tufts—Harris replaced interim Provost Peggy Newell and former Provost Jamshed Barucha, who left Tufts in March 2011.

Newell accepted the position of Harvard University’s first deputy provost, leaving the Hill last month. Having worked at Tufts since 1982, Newell spent the last nine years of her time here as vice provost and interim provost. 

Linda Snyder assumed the position of vice president for operations on Oct. 9, held since Jan. 2010 by Dick Reynolds (A ‘67). Snyder previously served as vice president for campus planning and facilities at Dartmouth College.

LouAnn Westall was named associate provost of academic planning, a new position created to facilitate the university-wide strategic plan. Westall has extensive experience in academic planning, including at Harvard Medical School.

The university spent much of the semester searching for replacements for several key positions, including dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, a search that was meant to start last year but was delayed in the absence of a permanent provost and senior vice president. Interim Dean of the Friedman School Robin Kanarek will continue to hold her position until the search is completed by the end of the academic year.

The search for a new dean of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, which was originally suspended in March 2011,  was also delayed until this year. The post is currently held by Nancy Wilson ad interim, and the search is set to continue through the academic year.

A new search also began for chair of the Department of Drama and Dance, after Downing Cless announced his retirement from the post at the end of this academic year. Cless has served 33 years in the department, including  as chair from 1995 to 2001, and since 2009.

Election buzz


Election frenzy took over campus this fall as student groups’ semester-long efforts to register voters and garner support culminated with Election Day on Nov. 6. 

Members of Tufts Democrats canvassed, made phone calls and held volunteer recruitment drives in support of President Barack Obama and Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren, both of whom were elected. The group teamed up with a number of student-run organizations, most notably Tufts Votes, to increase voter registration numbers. 

Tufts Republicans focused mainly on re-electing senator Scott Brown (R-Mass, LA ‘81) and teamed up with statewide organization Students for Scott Brown to support the campaign in different areas of Massachusetts by canvassing and phone banking. They also worked with Tufts Votes, which served as an umbrella group for campus get-out-the-vote efforts.

The Office of the Provost held “Engage the Debate”, a faculty panel and community forum prior to a live viewing of the second presidential debate to educate attendees about the election’s key issues. 

Election Day did not come without problems, as many students who attempted to cast ballots at the Gantcher Center polling location were told their names were not on registration records for that polling area. Those who were turned away were, reportedly, eventually allowed to cast provisional ballots instead. 

That night, students filled Hotung Café in the Mayer Campus Center for the Experimental College’s Election Night Extravaganza. Multiple television screens and emcees entertained and informed the audience with live election results. 

New university programs


The university launched a minor in Asian American studies this fall in response to growing interest and concern among students that a program for Asian American students did not exist. The six-credit, interdisciplinary minor is housed under the American Studies program. 

22 freshmen participated in the pilot of Bridge to Liberal Arts Success (BLAST) at Tufts over the summer to ease their transition into university-level coursework. BLAST mirrors Bridge to Engineering Success at Tufts (BEST) and allows incoming freshmen to take two university classes in a six-week summer session before matriculation.

The Africana Studies major and minor arrived on the Hill after years of negotiations between students and the administration. Faculty in the School of Arts and Sciences last May voted to move forward with the proposal to create an Africana Studies major and minor. 

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