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Next Tufts president is Oxford’s Anthony Monaco

Published: Monday, November 29, 2010

Updated: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 12:11

Anthony Monaco

Courtesy Alonso Nichols / Tufts University Photography

Anthony Monaco

The University of Oxford's Professor Anthony Monaco has been selected as the next president of Tufts University.

Monaco, a geneticist and the pro-vice-chancellor for planning and resources at Oxford, will succeed University President Lawrence Bacow in the university's highest position when Bacow steps down at the end of June.

He will become the 13th university president in Tufts' history.

The decision concludes a months-long presidential search that began in February of this year. The Board of Trustees formally elected Monaco on a conference call yesterday evening.

The president-elect will meet students, faculty and staff on all three of Tufts' campuses today, beginning with a formal introduction at 10 a.m. in Ballou Hall's Coolidge Room.

Monaco will then travel to Tufts' Health Sciences campus in Boston at noon and the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine's Grafton campus at 3 p.m.

In an interview with the Daily yesterday, Monaco spoke about his background and his priorities as the incoming president.

"I'm quite excited," Monaco said, adding that his wife, Zoia Monaco, and his sons are eagerly anticipating joining the Tufts community. "I'm really looking forward to advancing Tufts' mission."

Monaco added that both he and his wife have done research in the Boston area in the past, calling their impending return "a bit of a homecoming for us."

The incoming president will spend the next few months acclimating himself to the Tufts community, he said.

"I'm going to get in touch with my colleagues at Tufts and start learning," he said. "Just listening, trying to understand the culture."


Presidential priorities

Monaco said that he is interested in prioritizing the undergraduate experience, diversity, need-blind admissions, Tufts' international perspective and active citizenship.

"I'm very much in favor of the final goal of need-blind admissions," he said. "We're almost there. … That's a goal that I'd like to take forward, given the work that Larry [Bacow] has done in that area so far."

Monaco said he was the first in his family to attend a private university, and he credited Princeton University with giving him a financial aid package that allowed him to attend.

"It taught me very early on about access to quality higher education," he said. "I'm very passionate about this, and I'll take the baton from Larry."

Monaco grew up in Wilmington, Del., and received a bachelor's degree from Princeton University in 1981. He received an M.D. and Ph.D in neuroscience from Harvard Medical School in 1987 in the Medical Scientist Training Program.

He served as the director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, located at Oxford, before being appointed in 2007 to his current position as pro-vice-chancellor. The center is the world's largest medical research charity, according to its website.

Monaco's accomplishments in genetics and neuroscience include the identification of FOXP2, the first gene that has been demonstrated to be linked to the development of speech and language. His research has focused on the genetic roots of human disorders, including autism and dyslexia.

As a pro-vice-chancellor at Oxford, Monaco brings administrative experience in planning and budgeting in the world of higher education institutions to Tufts. One of the tasks he will perform in his final months at Oxford is setting the budget for the coming year, he said.

The search concludes

The Presidential Search Committee convened in February after Bacow announced he would resign at the end of this academic year.

Comprised of 13 members, including alumni, faculty, administrators and one student, the search committee considered an international pool of applicants, with the intention of naming Bacow's successor before the end of 2010.

The committee worked to narrow a broad field of candidates down to a short list of no more than four finalists, according to search committee member Julian Agyeman, the chair of the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning. Those names were then sent to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees for final consideration.

Presidential Search Committee Chair Peter Dolan (A '78) said Tufts' strong reputation allowed the university to look at high-caliber candidates.

"Given how much positive momentum the school has, we were able to attract what we judged to be an outstanding and talented group of people," Dolan said.

"I speak for the search committee when I say Tony Monaco is a spectacular choice," he said. "I think we're all incredibly excited about him being appointed."

Committee members react

"I think we have made an inspired choice bringing in a world-renowned academic from one of the top 10 universities in the world, who is going to lead us onward and upward into the next phase of Tufts' development," Agyeman, who is also a professor of urban and environmental policy and planning, said.

Professor of Computer Science Carla Brodley, a search committee member, said all the semifinalists were strong candidates and that search committee members were particularly enthralled with Monaco.

"The entire committee was unanimously happy he was on the short list," Brodley, who is also the chair of the Department of Computer Science, said.

Senior Sarah Habib, the lone student on the committee, said the body made student input a priority.

"Students should feel like their voice was heard," Habib said. "Their concerns and hopes for the future were constantly thought about in every interview and discussion we had about any candidate. Every single candidate was asked about student life in detail."

"Tony Monaco will keep the students in mind in everything he does," Habib said.

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