"Speaking about both Sophia and Sophia Gordon Hall, this is a wonderful day for us," Tufts University President Larry Bacow told an overflowing audience last night in Sophia Gordon Hall.
Last night marked the dedication of the new dorm for Tufts seniors, named after the wife of Tufts trustee Bernard Gordon (H '92).
During the event, both Bernard and Sophia were honored for their generosity in providing funds for construction, which was threatened by delays despite student support as a result of post-Sept. 11 cutbacks.
Because the project was completed in spite of this factor, Gordon is the perfect example of an effective trustee according to James Stern (E '72), the Chairman of the Tufts Board of Trustees,
"We all like to say we're champions of the students," he said. "Here you have a tangible example of someone who makes sure we follow through."
Gordon said he decided to follow through with the project because of his commitment to both Tufts and his wife Sophia.
"Aside from my parents, there have been two major influences in my life," he said. "One has been Tufts. The other has been Sophia."
According to President of the Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate Mitch Robinson, the completion of Sophia Gordon Hall demonstrates the administration's dedication to initiatives that benefit students, and bodes well for future projects.
"It may not come when you want it to, but it will come," he said.
Another focus of the event was the variety of uses for the new dorm. Robinson focused on its ability to keep seniors on campus.
"Seniors often times tend to gravitate to off-campus housing. This changed this year," he said.
In addition, the highly modern and very beautiful building boosts the students' morale, he said. "Now, when you go to this campus, students have a sense of pride they didn't have before," he said.
According to Stern, however, the building will also be a classroom.
"It's not only going to ease the shortage of on-campus housing," he said. "The building's been designed to promote social [and] intellectual interaction."
For that purpose, classes in a variety of disciplines will be taught there. "This is going to be a real teaching lab," he said.
Sophia Gordon, in a brief speech to the audience, said she well appreciates the value of a good education.
"I was fortunate to come to America," she said, who grew up in Greece and was not able to obtain a formal education after the age of eleven.
"I hope that the students who live here [and] study here will understand their own good fortune."
To highlight this commitment, a plaque honoring the new dorm contains a Woodrow Wilson quote: "Learning knows no differences of social caste or privilege." Many at the event also highlighted the structural and environmental advantages of the dormitory, which contains a solar thermal and photovoltaic rooftop array, uses energy from other renewable sources, and is expected to use 30 percent less water and energy than comparable buildings.
According to 2005-2006 TCU President Jeff Katzin, these benefits tie into larger plans.
"With the University making a new push towards active citizenship through the Tisch College, this was an opportunity to implement that socially responsible, environmentally friendly message in a tangible building on campus," he said. According to James Kostaras, the Executive Director of the Somerville Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development, the dorm also underscores cooperation between Tufts and the city of Somerville.
"Under the leadership of President Bacow...Tufts has always been there for the city of Somerville and I want to tell you I'm extremely grateful," said Kostaras, who stood in for Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone at the event.
"[It] is a welcome and significant addition not only to Tufts, but to the city of Somerville," he said.
Student reactions to both the dedication and the dorm itself were very positive.
"I thought it was very appropriate, based on the contribution that this dorm has made to campus, to have such a wonderful celebration honoring it and the people who made it happen," TCU Senate Parliamentarian Andrew Caplan said.
Since its construction was announced, Sophia Gordon has been a highly sought-after location and according to current residents, it has been far from a disappointment.
"The whole layout is really good," said Erin Yeh, a resident of the dorm. "The size of the entire apartment is pretty ideal. It's like a hotel."