|| || || |
Pomp and Humility
A dose of humility—or at least the appearance of
such—is a worthy trait for both college graduates
and national leaders, speaker Walter Isaacson told the
audience at Tufts’ 148th commencement on May 23.
Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, drew
on his latest best-selling biography, Benjamin Franklin:
An American Life. “Remember that virtue of humility,”
Isaacson recounted Franklin’s interaction with members
of the Leather Apron Club, a “workingman’s
club.” Franklin prepared a chart listing all the
virtues he wished to acquire and checked off each one
as he mastered it. Once he had completed the task, he
displayed the chart to his companions.
One fellow member pointed out that Franklin had forgotten
one important virtue: humility. And, Isaacson said, Franklin
replied in his wry fashion, “I was never very good
about that.” And yet Franklin “became very
good at the appearance of [humility],” Isaacson
said, leading to the lesson that “appearances, if
handled right, become part of your reality.”
This is a lesson that is all too valuable today, Isaacson
said. He recalled how during the 2000 presidential campaign,
George W. Bush “[spoke] about the need for more
humility in America’s foreign policy.” Now
that Bush is president, “I understand the need for
a more assertive foreign policy after 9/11,” Isaacson
continued, “but I wish George W. Bush had learned
from old Dr. Franklin at least to fake a little humility
and listen to our allies.”
Isaacson was one of six accomplished people to receive
honorary degrees this year. He was joined by Apollo astronaut
Neil Armstrong; musician Tracy Chapman, J86; former chair
of the university’s Board of Trustees Nathan Gantcher,
A62; U.S. Sen. Richard G. Lugar, chairman of the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee; and former National Science
Foundation director, Walter Massey, now president of Morehouse
Isaacson said another important lesson can be drawn from
Franklin’s mission to France to enlist support for
the Colonial cause during the Revolution. “He appealed
to France’s values and ideals,” Isaacson said.
“[Franklin] realized that ideas had power. Now we
are losing the war of ideas around the world, losing the
war of values. This would dismay our founders.”
During the Constitutional Convention, Franklin again provided
a valuable blueprint for civil conduct when he proposed
the idea for a bicameral federal legislature, the House
and the Senate. “Seek to find common ground,”
Isaacson advised. “Compromisers don’t make
great heroes, but they make great democracies.”
Following the Phase I commencement exercises, the School
of Engineering and academic departments from Arts &
Sciences hosted, for the first time, smaller events at
which degrees were conferred within academic clusters.
The customized ceremonies allowed the departments to bring
their own flavor to a timeless ritual. Geology handed
out sheepskins and rock hammers. The ceremony for music,
drama, and dance in Goddard Chapel featured an original
composition by John McDonald, associate professor of music.
Armstrong spoke at the ceremony for the School of Engineering.
Altogether, Tufts schools awarded degrees to 2,077 graduates.
The commencement ceremony for the School of Medicine and
the Sackler School was marked by both levity and candor.
“Don’t worry,” said Dean of the School
of Medicine Michael Rosenblatt to newly minted Tufts doctors.
“We have taught you well.” He then recounted
his own early experience of residency, where, he admitted,
“I was greener than Kermit the Frog.” After
failing to diagnose his first three patients properly,
Rosenblatt went to his supervisor and tendered his resignation.
The offer was refused, and the fledgling physician learned
that he was doing just fine by enlisting the aid of others.
Seek help, he advised the graduates. Try to stay involved
with the public issues involving the practice of medicine,
he continued. Finally, think deeply about ethics in everything
that you do. “Medicine is ethical; the rest follows,”
School Appoints New Dean
Eileen Kennedy, former federal official and nutrition
policy expert, has been appointed dean of the Friedman
School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts.
Kennedy has long championed nutrition research and its
application to policy, from her seven years as a leading
voice for nutrition at the U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA) to her studies of maternal and child health and
nutrition in areas around the globe.
“Dr. Kennedy will bring bold leadership to the
Friedman School of Nutrition, maintaining the steep
trajectory of distinction that has characterized the
school since its founding,” said President Lawrence
“I am thrilled to be joining the Friedman School
because its greatest strength is in the diversity of
its curriculum and research,” said Kennedy. “No
other school has the wealth of expertise in such a wide
range of intersecting disciplines—from basic science
to applied nutrition and policy research and development.”
While serving as deputy under secretary and then acting
under secretary at the USDA, Kennedy created the “Healthy
Eating Index,” a validated measure for monitoring
nutrition, which earned her a worldwide reputation for
expertise in this field. She also directed agencies
that provided policy advice, analysis, and research
on agriculture, biotechnology, nutrition, environment,
food safety, economics, and agricultural extension.
Kennedy also was president of the Global Nutrition Institute,
which links science-based nutrition research to action
through public/private partnerships. She holds an undergraduate
degree from Hunter College, master’s from Pennsylvania
State University and Harvard University, and a Doctor
of Science in Nutrition from Harvard’s School
of Public Health.
| In Pursuit
of Provocative Ideas
Dr. Leon Kass, chair of the President’s Council
on Bioethics and an advisor to President Bush on such
topics as stem-cell research and cloning, will inaugurate
the Richard E. Snyder President’s Lecture Series
Kass, the Addie Clark Harding Professor in the Committee
on Social Thought and the College at the University of
Chicago, is scheduled to speak in early October.
The lecture series aims to bring prominent public figures
to campus to present provocative and perhaps controversial
points of view on current events and issues of national
and international importance, with the intention of stimulating
thought and discussion that lead to deeper understanding.
The new series is named for Richard E. Snyder, A55, former
chairman and CEO of Simon & Schuster. Snyder sought
to establish a lecture series that responded to an aspect
of Tufts life articulated by the Task Force on the Undergraduate
Experience. According to the task force, students and
others in the college community identified a need to enhance
and invigorate the intellectual climate on campus outside
of the classroom.
Kass, who was named to head President Bush’s new
Council on Bioethics, served as a main consultant to Bush
as the president was considering his decision on federal
funding for embryonic stem-cell research.
Kass has been engaged for more than 30 years with ethical
and philosophical issues raised by biomedical advances,
and, more recently, with broader moral and cultural issues.
He recently testified before Congress in favor of a ban
on human cloning.profession.
Check the university calendar at events.tufts.edu
for the exact date of the lecture.
in the Community
Tufts University has entered into a partnership with
the cities of Medford and Somerville that is expected
to mutually benefit the economic future of all three
At a news conference May 24 in Ballou Hall, President
Lawrence S. Bacow announced an agreement that calls
for the university to contribute $1.25 million to each
city over 10 years. At the request of the communities,
the funding will be accelerated in the first two years
to assist with current budget shortfalls. In addition,
Tufts is investing at least $300,000 per community in
need-based financial aid to assist undergraduates attending
Tufts from each city.
“This is a historic day for Tufts, Somerville,
and Medford,” Bacow said. “For the first
time, we have committed ourselves to a plan that includes
a financial benefit.”
Bacow praised Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone and
Medford Mayor Michael McGlynn as well as other officials.
“Partnerships like this don’t just happen,”
he said of the work that went into developing the agreement.
Bacow said that Tufts is proud of its presence in Somerville
and Medford and noted that the university is the largest
private employer in each city, with a payroll of $26
million. The partnership includes key benefits, such
- Tufts providing $300,000 in need-based financial
aid for students from Medford and Somerville;
- Tufts’ early-childhood programs will continue
to provide financial support for local children enrolled
in the Eliot-Pearson Children’s School and the
Tufts Educational Day Care Center;
- Tufts will continue its educational and environmental
programs in both cities. Students are involved in
projects aimed at cleaning up the Mystic River as
well as a variety of programs that involve children,
including the Tufts Literacy Corps and the Center
for Reading and Language Research. In addition, the
Center for Engineering Outreach offers a range of
programs that focus on science education for children
- Tufts will provide the communities a free environmental
health and safety program to inventory and make recommendations
on the handling of hazardous substances;
- Tufts will reduce costs for Somerville and Medford
residents who audit courses from the standard fee
of $600 to $100 per course.
Helping New England Farms
A lmost half of the dairy farmers in New England have
gone out of business over the last decade due to dropping
milk prices and rising operating costs. A federal grant
awarded to the School of Veterinary Medicine may help
turn the tide.
With funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA), Tufts will undertake two initiatives to help
preserve New England’s family farms, improve
farm-animal welfare, and enhance environmental stewardship
of farmland in the region.
The programs are being spearheaded by Dr. George Saperstein,
professor of environmental and population health, Dr.
Karl Andrutis, assistant professor of environmental
and population health, and Associate Dean Joe McManus.
“By raising higher-value niche products for local
consumers who care how their food is produced, regional
farmers should be able to earn a sufficient living
to keep their farms,” said Saperstein.
Faculty and staff at Tufts’ 250-acre farm on
the Grafton campus and at Tufts’ Ambulatory Clinic
in Woodstock, Connecticut, will collaborate on the
In one initiative, Tufts will model alternative agricultural
practices to demonstrate how farmers can raise and
market eggs from free-range Araucana chickens and meat
from free-range male dairy calves. Tufts also will
develop a pilot practice to help farmers better manage
their crop and pasture land through environmentally
friendly composting and manure-handling techniques.
The other new initiative will enable Tufts to protect
its Grafton farmland through a new land-use management
plan. The university will conduct this environmental
stewardship program with assistance from the USDA’s
Natural Resources Conservation Service and the University
of Massachusetts’ Cooperative Extension Service.
Mission to El Salvador
Faculty members and a student from the School of Dental
Medicine and the Massachusetts Hispanic Dental Association
(MHDA) recently traveled on their first humanitarian
mission to El Salvador. The group reached out to current
and future dentists through lectures and provided clinical
care to patients during the trip.
The Tufts delegation included Dr. Stanton Wolfe, director
of the Department of Public Health, Dr. Aidee Herman,
clinical assistant professor in periodontology and
former Hispanic Dental Association president, Dr. Zuzana
Mendez, staff dentist in preventive care, and recent
graduate Dr. Danny Pena, D04.
On the first day of their stay, 216 participants from
Evangelica University benefited from lectures given
by Wolfe and Herman, as well as one presented by Dr.
Eugene Sekigushi, president of the American Dental
At the university’s facilities, the team provided
374 dental treatments to 247 patients from local and
rural communities, including children who had traveled
as long as two hours to receive dental care.
Herman, who is also executive director of the MHDA,
said “It was an inspiration to feel the passion
and determination that Salvadorian people embrace,
even though the country is still recovering from the
war it suffered in the 1980s. I was personally amazed
at the joy and comfort the Salvadorian people find
in the simplest of activities, and for me this trip
was a lesson of priorities, a lesson of meaning, and
a lesson of determination that I will not forget any
time soon. The team plans to come back in June 2005,
and looks forward to meeting again with the friends
that we now have in that part of the world.”