A Common Thread of Joy

A tribute to the revered tradition of painting the Tufts cannon was made Saturday night as revelers colorfully decorated a mock cannon.

Former Tufts Presidents Burton C. Hallowell (left) and Dr. John DiBiaggo with Bacow, prior to inauguration ceremonies.

Chairman Nathan Gantcher, A62, installs President Bacow.

If an air of goodwill pervaded the 150th Anniversary & Inauguration Celebration, it was an atmosphere cultivated by all who came together for the extraordinary experience of creating three memorable events for President Bacow and for Tufts University: A concert of resounding beauty, an inauguration ceremony marked by dignity, humility and insight, and a Sesquicentennial birthday party of magnanimous high spirits.

It all began, appropriately, with the universal language of music. The Tufts Presidential Inauguration Concert: A Musical Showcase, in Cohen Auditorium on Thursday, April 18, proved the versatile talents of Tufts students and faculty. The concert was led off by a piano solo composed by John McDonald, master of ceremonies and associate professor of music, that paid special tribute to Larry Bacow and Adele Fleet Bacow (story). The Tufts Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Chris Younghoo Kim, filled the concert hall with "Music for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet," by David Diamond. A jazz trio of piano, drums and bass-Joel LaRue Smith, lecturer in music and director of jazz activities, Alvin Terry, guest artist, and Brian McCree, lecturer in music-then brought their extraordinary gifts together for an unforgettable interpretation of Arthur Altman's "All or Nothing at All."

The Tufts Chamber Singers

The Tufts Chamber Singers, conducted by James John, soared through three pieces, including the hauntingly beautiful "Absalom, Fili Mi," composed by LaRue Smith. The concert program came to a exuberant close thanks to the joyful sounds of the Third Day Gospel Choir. One of Tufts largest singing groups, with 130 members, the choir, conducted by Idella Johnson, gave their all to "Rock of Ages," "My Shepherd" and the aptly chosen "Celebrate."

On Friday morning, members of the Tufts community and epresentatives from 150 institutions gathered for the Inauguration beneath an enormous white tent set up on Ellis Oval. Bacow, who began his tenure as president on September 1, 2001, received the official symbols of the office from Nathan Gantcher, A62, chairman of the Tufts Board of Trustees, at a two-hour ceremony that drew close to 2,000 guests under a tent in the Ellis Oval on the Medford/Somerville campus. The procession, which included 150 delegates from other universities and colleges, was led by Eberhard Schaich, rector of Eberhard-Karls Universitüat in Tübingen, Germany, established in 1477.

President Bacow and Adele Fleet Bacow

Bacow was welcomed by representatives from the Tufts community. The undergraduate representative, Eric Greenberg, A02, was unable to appear because of illness; his remarks were read by Peter L.D. Reid, professor of classics. Other greeters included Colleen O'Connor, M02; Barbara Grossman, J84, chair of the department of drama and dance (story); Dr. Lonnie H. Norris, D80, dean of the School of Dental Medicine; and William O'Reilly Jr., A77, president of the Tufts University Alumni Association. Charles M. Vest, President, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and James O. Freedman, President Emeritus, Dartmouth College, also extended their best wishes to their colleague and friend. Describing Bacow as a man of "outstanding diplomatic and organizational skills," Vest said

President Bacow with Charles M. Vest, President, MIT (left) and James O. Freedman, President Emeritus, Dartmouth College

Tufts' new leader is "masterful" at encouraging people to work toward a common vision. "He has a fine sense of time and place, and this will serve him well, and it will serve you well." Vest mentioned two prominent Tufts alumni who enjoyed distinguished careers at MIT, Vannevar Bush, E13, G13, a pioneer in the development of computer technology, and Norbert Weiner, A09, H46, the founder of the science of cybernetics and a brilliant mathematician. "Your inauguration gives us the opportunity to return those favors," Vest said. Said Freedman, Bacow's inauguration is "an act for which American higher education can be thankful," adding that Bacow will bring "bright wit and intellectual vivacity . . . to the University and the entire academic enterprise."

President Bacow with Shirley Chandler Bitterman, his former fourth-grade teacher.

Bacow was invested as president by Nathan Gantcher, A62, who presented him with the charter of Tufts College, granted by the Great and General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1852. Gantcher also presented the keys to Ballou Hall and a medallion inscribed with the names of each of the past presidents on the links of the chain. Said Gantcher: "We, the Tufts trustees, are convinced you will lead this institution to greater and greater heights."

On Saturday night, the celebration kicked into a higher gear at the Gantcher Family Sports and Convocation Center for a birthday party bash. The band Jumpstreet had everyone on their feet with a diverse repertoire that included jazz, rock and Motown hits. Competing for more contemplative attention was the Tufts Sesquicentennial Time Capsule, a handsome oak sculpture that made its debut at the party. Tufts well-wishers signed a birthday book that will be included in the capsule.

Pattie Darcy-Jones stepped into the spotlight to belt out the world debut of a new Tufts song, "The Light on the Hill."

Another debut was a new Tufts song, the gift of Tufts overseer Rysia De Ravel, J71 (story). And when hundreds of white balloons cascaded down onto the dance floor from the ceiling, the crowd enjoyed the spontaneous delight of volleying enormous balloons while tripping the light fantastic. As revelers proved on Saturday night, it's not difficult to have a good time at Tufts. (As one onlooker noted: "Gee, people at Tufts like to party!") But it was with unusual panache that Tufts celebrated the 150th Anniversary and Inauguration in April. Connected by a common thread of joy, it stands as a reminder that once in a while, maybe every 150 years, extraordinary events can converge with extraordinary results.

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