New provost holds town hall meeting with students
Published: Friday, September 28, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 28, 2012 08:09
Provost and Senior Vice President David Harris met with students yesterday to discuss his career path and goals for Tufts.
The meeting was a part of the “A Look Within” discussion series hosted by the Office of Intercultural and Social Identities Programs. The series is meant to allow students to speak with professionals and learn from their experiences, according to Africana Center Director Katrina Moore, who introduced Harris.
As provost, Harris is the chief academic officer of the university and will work on a number of financial, academic and diversity-related initiatives, he said.
Harris assumed his position as Tufts’ provost on July 1 as the result of a search process that began when former Provost Jamshed Bharucha left Tufts at the end of the 2010-2011 academic year.
Harris listed several goals for the year, including meeting people at Tufts and getting to know Tufts’ programs.
He said that it is extremely important for the administration to communicate with students while planning for the university.
“Part of the challenge for us as administrators is always to make sure that we are creating and supporting institutions and environments that resonate with today’s challenges,” he said.
After speaking about his background and career path, Harris answered questions from members of the audience about the promotion of diversity at Tufts and the university’s future.
Harris said he believes that there should be a holistic effort in place to understand the challenges of minority groups at Tufts and that faculty, students and the Group of Six — a group of six cultural centers at Tufts that promote diversity — could all contribute to this effort.
He noted that Tufts is in the process of figuring out what role research plays at the university.
“It’s a university that is different from what it was 30 years ago, in the sense that it’s increasingly focused on research,” he said.
Sophomore Genesis Garcia asked Harris his opinion on whether students should be required to take a class in social justice at Tufts.
Harris responded that rather than a single required class, all classes should be conscious of diversity issues.
Tufts Community Union Senate President Wyatt Cadley, a senior, asked Harris, “Why Tufts?”
Harris said he had heard Tufts described as “a university poised.”
“It has aspirations and is in the process,” Harris said. “That was exciting to me.”
Harris said he was also struck by meeting University President Anthony Monaco and thought that they together would make a good team for the university.
Harris advised students to stay flexible and follow their hearts in choosing what to do with their careers, as he did not foresee his career bringing him to a position of provost.
“It’s nothing I had any idea I’d be doing before ten, or certainly fifteen years ago,” he said.