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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, April 14, 2024

Steve Tisch donates $10 million to Schuler Access Initiative

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The Steve Tisch Sports and Fitness Center is pictured on Aug. 28, 2020.

Steve Tisch (A’71) made a $10 million donation toward the Schuler Access Initiative as part of the Brighter World campaign. The Schuler Access Initiative is a $25 million “challenge gift” from Jack Schuler (A’62) and Tanya Schuler Sharman (E’91), co-founders of the Schuler Education Foundation. 

“This gift is a challenge to the Tufts community to raise $25 million in financial aid and will match those gifts up to $25 million,” Eric Johnson, the senior vice president for university advancement, wrote in an email to the Daily.

Tufts was selected to participate in this initiative alongside about 19 other prestigious liberal arts colleges. The university was determined to be a good fit based on its commitments to meeting 100% of students’ demonstrated financial need and increasing enrollment of Pell Grant-eligible and undocumented students. 

“Funds raised by the multi-year challenge will allow Tufts to significantly increase the number of students who are Pell Grant-eligible or students with undocumented or DACA status,” Johnson wrote. “The effort will support the university’s commitment to broadening access for many years to come.”

Dean of Admissions JT Duck agreed that this gift allows Tufts to admit more students from low-income backgrounds.

“The Schuler Access Initiative, and the generosity of Steve Tisch and other donors to this effort, allow Admissions to recruit, admit and enroll more low-income students in each class than we would otherwise be able to,” Duck wrote in an email to the Daily.

Steve Tisch has made several multimillion dollar donations to Tufts over the last few years. He previously made a $13 million gift toward the Steve Tisch Family Sports and Fitness Center, which was dedicated in 2012.

Jeffrey Stewart (LA’90), a senior adviser to Tisch, explained why Tisch continues to support the university.

“He’s always felt a strong connection to the school and is grateful for the education he received, people he met and the opportunities that [Tufts] provided,” Stewart said in an interview with the Daily. “Steve believes there’s a responsibility to help others along the way.” 

Stewart added that Tisch is “impressed with the leadership of the school over the years,” further contributing to his desire to continue to support Tufts in substantial ways.

Stewart sits on the board of advisers for the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, a role he said has helped him bring Tufts’ accomplishments to mind for Tisch.

“[Tisch] knew he wanted to make some gift to further support Tufts, and when he learned about the Schuler Initiative and the impact that it was having and the ability with his gift to amplify that impact in large ways, it seemed to him to be the right kind of gift to make,” Stewart said.

Stewart added that Tisch’s more recent philanthropy has been motivated by the rising cost of higher education.

“[Tisch is] recognizing the value of higher education, but also understanding how it’s growing more and more difficult to afford that education and recognizing the benefits of having a more diverse campus,” Stewart said.

According to Johnson, Tisch’s donation brings the amount raised in support of the Schuler Access Initiative to $18.4 million, 73% of its $25 million goal. 

“[Tisch’s] gift and gifts from 76 other Tufts alumni, parents, and friends demonstrate our community’s collective belief in ensuring these students have access to a Tufts education,” Johnson wrote. 

The donation also contributes to the Brighter World fundraising campaign, which University President Anthony Monaco launched in 2017 to raise $1.5 billion to improve the Tufts experience and strengthen the university’s leadership in higher education. According to Johnson, the campaign has now raised a total of $1.45 billion, 96% of its end goal.

“The generosity of Mr. Tisch and the tens of thousands of other donors [to the Brighter World campaign] has been an inspiration as we fundraise to create transformative experiences, support research and innovation, and demonstrate our global impact,” Johnson wrote. 

Caroline Genco, provost and senior vice president, added that funding for financial aid has been a priority for the Brighter World campaign.

“Under President Monaco’s leadership, increasing financial aid has been a top priority for the university’s Brighter World capital campaign,” Genco wrote in an email to the Daily. “The Schuler Access Initiative and Steve Tisch’s generous support of it will be life-changing for many future students by making a Tufts education financially possible.”