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University President Anthony Monaco talks TCF, Twitter, fitness

Diversity, Dewick-Carmichael debate among topics discussed in exclusive interview

Published: Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 14:12


Virginia Bledsoe / The Tufts Daily

University President Anthony Monaco sat down with the Daily in October to discuss his third semester at Tufts.

In his second academic year at Tufts, University President Anthony Monaco has set his sights on the university-wide strategic plan, some details of which are outlined in a story on the front page of today’s Daily. When the Daily had the opportunity to sit down with President Monaco in his office in Ballou Hall, he also commented on topics including his workout schedule at the new Steve Tisch Sports and Fitness Center, the tenuous status of Tufts Christian Fellowship and his passion for social media.

The Tufts Daily: At a Senate meeting [on October 22] you talked about diversity initiatives, about being data-driven and that we have a needle that needs to rise. Can you explain our goals for diversity?

Anthony Monaco: I know that despite all the hard work of the previous administration and the huge amount of money raised for financial aid, if you look at the data over the last 10 years for most metrics of diversity, whether it’s students, faculty or staff, the needle has been flat and in some cases has even decreased slightly. That tells me that we need to do more. We need to set policies and then go back to this data and see how we’re doing, and see if we can push the needle in the direction we want to go.

TD: Something else that’s been a hot topic on campus right now is TCF being defunded and derecognized by the TCU Judiciary. This is not the first time that there have been issues with this group. What are your thoughts on the situation?

AM: I think it’s a complex issue because it’s a balance between the regulations about student clubs having a non-discriminatory policy and then having the diversity in religious freedom for a club to determine their own regulations about who is a member and what they believe.  

So it’s a complex issue and it’s a balance between those two rights or freedoms.  And I think at the moment, all I would say is that, you know, the Judiciary has made a ruling, that TCF can now — they had an option of changing, they decided not to — but now they’re going to appeal.  

And the next level is to go to the student life faculty board, which will decide which way this goes. I’m going to, at the moment, stay a little bit outside the process because I believe we have a proper process at the moment, and I’d like to see it run its course... hopefully we’ll get to a place which allows the TCF to retain their rights as a club, as well as somehow make our discrimination policy not be acted against.

TD: How do you see the role of athletics on campus evolving with the construction of the new [Steve Tisch Sports and Fitness] facility?

AM: Well, the obvious thing is that a brand-new facility like that really draws students, faculty and staff in. You go down there, and you just see the larger number of people going down there to work out in this nice new facility. 

I think what I got from the student athletes, and those who use it for club sports, is the sense of pride that we finally have a facility that is deserving of a university like Tufts. At the same time, I think it offers all the Tufts community a way of keeping fit with good facilities, modern equipment, we’re even thinking of creating a Wellness Center down there, which can have health benefits. I think it is a great focus now.

TD:  To what extent have you used the fitness center yourself?

AM: I have been in the facility but haven’t used the fitness center itself. I do go down and try to run with the marathon team twice a week ... I’m not running the marathon, though. I enjoy going out for a run, but I probably won’t go beyond seven to nine miles, that’s my limit.

TD: You talked a lot last year about being really open, being on social media, talking to students at sporting events. Has your listening tour at Tufts been completed? Can you afford to spend as much time doing that in the future?

AM:  I guess I use social media for different purposes. One is to continue to listen, so being on Facebook or Twitter, I can see what’s happening and what people are saying ... [The second is] to let the Tufts community know what I’m up to and what I think is exciting or important that’s happening.

TD: Do you expect to be on campus as much as you were last year in the coming years?

AM: So now that [Provost David Harris] is here and pushing forward things like the strategic plan, I think it will allow me to spend more time on the external side of the job in the sense of fundraising, spending time in Washington, and these are things that will be building up. 

We have a financial aid initiative going on at the moment ... so I need to get in front of alumni and donors and really tell them what’s important and what we need to raise money for. Also, in the strategic plan process, we want to engage with alumni, friends, and donors to Tufts. The more I’m out there explaining what’s going on here at the university, the more engaged they’ll be as a group and hopefully give us their perspective as we move forward.

TD: What’s your favorite dining facility?

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