Dear President Monaco,
As we approach the end of the spring semester, and with it the end of your 12-year tenure as president, we, the Daily’s Editorial Board, wanted to take the time to thank you for your commitment to bettering the university and acknowledge your many accomplishments throughout your tenure at Tufts.
You led Tufts through several important initiatives and some tumultuous times during your time as our president. While many of your accomplishments predate even our most senior board members’ matriculation in September 2019, we nevertheless wanted to express our appreciation for your hard work.
Some of your accomplishments, such as the acquisition of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, seem so fundamental to Tufts as an institution that it is hard to envision a university without them.
Similarly, other work done behind the scenes to ensure the university’s institutional well-being is not without notice. Under your leadership, the Tufts endowment has nearly doubled, thanks in part to initiatives such as the Brighter World fundraising campaign, which expands financial assistance for students in need. Thanks to your financial aid initiative, Tufts brought in hundreds of millions to be used for financial aid, striving to make Tufts accessible regardless of wealth.
Also during your tenure, Tufts removed the Sackler name from all facilities and programs, acknowledging the Sackler family’s role in advancing the opioid crisis by deliberately targeting high-volume prescribers to boost Purdue Pharma’s sales of OxyContin. By standing up to a powerful family like the Sacklers, and by establishing an endowment focused on substance abuse and addiction treatment and prevention, under your leadership, Tufts has rectified a problem of its past while addressing the omnipresent issue of opioid addiction.
When the COVID-19 pandemic reached Tufts in spring 2020, you led the university with poise. Your pandemic response team, which included Tufts’ best and brightest, ensured that we could return to campus safely and re-engage in collaborative learning by the fall of 2020.
Not only did you usher in a safe return to campus, but you — along with several others — then designed and tested a pooled COVID-19 testing strategy for Tufts’ neighbors and community schools. This shows your compassion and dedication not just to the Tufts community, but also to the people of Medford and Somerville. It’s inherently important to give back to these cities which offer us so much as a university; when you can leverage your academic and clinical skills as you did, it makes your contribution all that more meaningful and effective at bettering the lives and health of Tufts’ host communities.
Before you came to Tufts, you focused your research on mental health. You continued this research during your tenure as president and have indicated an intention to continue further once you step down. While mental health disorders are not unique to our generation, they are notably common among our peers in a way that is distinct from older generations. Your interest in and focus on learning more about the afflictions our generation struggles with speaks wonders to your compassion and care for Tufts students’ well-being.
In July 2020, you announced the beginning of the Tufts as an Anti-Racist Institution initiative to “eradicate any structural racism at Tufts.” While the goal of becoming a fully anti-racist institution is far from complete, the initiative itself delivered over 180 recommendations across five workstreams that can help to make Tufts more diverse, equitable and inclusive. A lot of work remains, but by beginning these workstreams, Tufts has taken the first step in addressing these problems: identifying them. Initiating and undertaking such an important and wide-ranging project in the final years of your presidency is admirable and will no doubt engrave your legacy at Tufts.
Throughout all of this, you led with humility, always quick to credit your team. Easily approachable, you knew how to solicit feedback from the student body and the greater Tufts community. An excellent collaborator, you taught us — by example — how to be better students and better people.
Your leadership through these monumental efforts, changes and initiatives did not go unnoticed, and we express our deepest admiration and appreciation for all the hard work you have done to improve our school’s financial stability, student life, reputation, diversity and inclusiveness.
The Tufts Daily Editorial Board
Brendan, Julia, Alex, Hannah, Makenna, Elena and Faye