A Momentous Occasion
A new athletic and convocation center, a historical $20 million
gift, and a new Tufts Tomorrow goal come together in a symbolic event.
On November 5, Tufts rolled out the red carpet for the official
opening of the new $9 million Gantcher Family Sports and Convocation
Center, a state-of-the-art athletic facility featuring a 200-meter
track, four indoor tennis courts, and seating for 6,000 as a convocation
center-one of the largest projects in the Tufts Tomorrow capital
campaign. The gala event would have been sufficient just for the
facility's transformation for a black-tie dinner dance, including
a four-ton ice sculpture of Jumbo, two indoor firework displays,
and the sounds of the Big Band era playing into the night for nearly
850 guests. Yet before the evening was out, the official opening
of the center had also become a memorable setting for two other
historic events in Tufts history: the announcement of the university's
largest single gift, and a new capital campaign goal increased to
$600 million by 2002.
The $20 million donation to Tufts University's engineering program
comes from Bernard Gordon, H92, Trustee and member of the Board
of Overseers for Engineering. Considered a father of the digital
Information Age, Gordon is founder, chairman and CEO of Analogic
Corporation. He holds more than 200 patents worldwide, including
ones for the fetal monitor, the digital CAT scan, digital Doppler
radar, the high-speed analog-to-digital converter, and the most
advanced bomb detection device. Gordon was also awarded a Tufts
Presidential Medal, one of only three bestowed on outstanding achievers
in this decade and the first given by President John DiBiaggio.
The campaign's new goal, targeted primarily at bolstering the endowment,
raises the original Tufts Tomorrow goal of $400 million by $200
million, to raise a total of $600 million by 2002, Tufts' 150th
"This event was a wonderful opportunity to express our gratitude
to our benefactors and to build pride in the achievements of Tufts,"
said DiBiaggio. "We salute our supporters' outstanding commitment
over many years to create the world-class institution that Tufts
has become. It's thanks to their care and generosity that we can
build for the future and build a sense of enthusiasm for Tufts'
The festivities grew out of months of planning, as Tufts officials
organized what promised to be a momentus occasion, the grand opening
of the new center and the first Convocation of Tufts Board of Trustees
and its Overseers on November 4-5.
That first-ever gathering drew 29 of 35 trustees and 140 of 200
overseers from as far away as Switzerland and Thailand to the Medford/Somerville
campus. University leaders first gathered together the evening of
November 4 at a reception and dinner at Gifford House, where Nathan
Gantcher, A62, chairman of the Board of Trustees, was the keynote
On Friday, trustees and overseers met to focus on President DiBiaggio's
draft of Tufts' first strategic plan in many years, which was discussed
at length over a series of subsequent meetings of overseers and
"Tufts' trustees and the 200 members of our 10 Boards of Overseers
have been key to the success of Tufts," said DiBiaggio, "Together
they will continue to play vital roles in the governance of Tufts
as it defines its priorities."
A Welcome Facility
The new Gantcher Family Sports and Convocation Center was a natural
place to host Tufts' most ambitious evening affair. Board of Trustees
Chair Nathan Gantcher and his family provided the leading gift for
the 70,000-square-foot building, adjoining the Tufts athletic complex
on the Medford/Somerville campus. Within the Gantcher Center is
the Hirsh Tennis Center, named for Dr. Mark Hirsh, K68, member of
the Board of Overseers for the Veterinary School, and also a parent
of a 1997 Jackson graduate. In addition, the convocation center
houses a 200-meter NCAA competition-level track that will allow
Tufts to host indoor meets.
As DiBiaggio remarked at the reception prior to the banquet, the
center is a giant stride forward for Tufts. "We celebrate the
fact that tonight, for the first time in this university's history,
there is a place for the entire Tufts community, from all campuses,
to come together under one roof to celebrate special occasions,"
said DiBiaggio. "I am sure you agree that this Gantcher Family
Sports and Convocation Center is a powerful symbol of Tufts in the
After thanking all those whose hard work made the new facility
a reality, DiBiaggio announced a "sparkling surprise."
On cue, a 50-foot-high curtain was drawn back to reveal the massive
center, accompanied by a display of fireworks shooting up like fountains
of water. The banquet hall decorations, massive vertical banners
representing doorways from each of Tufts' campuses, acknowledged
the university-wide generosity that made the new center possible.
Tufts' tireless mascot, Jumbo the elephant, was also a featured
guest, this time invited in the form of a giant ice sculpture and
popular "Kodak moment" backdrop.
The "fire and ice" of the evening were apt complements
to the strong Tufts loyalties expressed throughout the evening.
Gantcher, taking the microphone just before dinner, shared his deep
appreciation to Tufts and its remarkable growth as a world-class
university in just a few decades.
"I want you all to know how proud I am to have my family's
name identified with this important addition to Tufts' beautiful
landscape," he said. "From all of the Gantchers, to all
of you who have made this great place possible, our warmest thanks."
Gantcher also extended a special thanks to his two predecessors
as chair of the board of trustees, Allan Callow and Nelson Gifford.
"Under their leadership, many of you in this room contributed
to an historic expansion of this University's place on the world
stage. That is to say, this already remarkable New England university
in the past 20 years has nearly doubled in size-to nearly 4 million
square feet of space, roughly the size of 100 football fields. That
means Tufts has grown as much in this time frame as it did in its
first 125 years. We've added two new campuses and three new schools.
You all should be extremely proud of this huge achievement."
Campaign Goal Goes Extra Mile
The evening's high spirits also provided an appopriate backdrop
for another key announcement: a new for the Tufts Tomorrow campaign
goal. Launched in 1995, Tufts Tomorrow has been tremendously successful,
raising by November $390 million of its original $400 million goal.
That goal has now been extended by $200 million to be reached by
2002, the 150th anniversary of Tufts. Specifically, the campaign
over the next two years will focus on bolstering the endowment,
money that guarantees Tufts will remain on a solid financial footing
for many years to come.
That Tufts endowment is currently valued at $484 million. Endowment
funds are essential to make strategic investments in faculty, student
financial aid, scholarships and programs. They also allow Tufts
to lessen its dependence on annual tutition revenues.
Jim Stern, E72, vice chair of the Board of Trustees and co-chair
of the Tufts Tomorrow campaign, said the new goal came about when
Tufts volunteer fundraisers, supporters and friends recognized that
Tufts was "well on its way" toward achieving the Tufts
Tomorrow campaign objective more than a half year earlier than anticipated.
Based on that achievement, they felt they would be able to put Tufts
in the strongest position possible to face the challenges of a competitive
higher education marketplace as it reaches its 150th anniversary.
"We are committing ourselves to go the extra mile on Tufts'
behalf," he said.
"We are committing ourselves to doing everything we can to
ensure that Tufts enters the 21st century in the strongest possible
Brian Lee, vice president for development, added that it was "thanks
to the generosity of alumni, parents, friends, volunteers, and staff,
we have attained our goal six months ahead of schedule. Capitilizing
on this success and the strong momentum of support for Tufts, makes
us confident that we can meet this new challenge."
Family Sports and Convocation Center has been called a milestone
in the history of Tufts athletics for good reason. It is the largest
open indoor facility on campus, housing a 200-meter track and four
tennis courts. With the convocation center's seating capacity of
6,000, the university can now host high-profile events. And, for
the first time, Tufts has an indoor practice space for all the outdoor
sports teams during inclement weather.
Designed by the architectural firm of Sasaki and Associates, the
60,000-square-foot building is located on College Avenue on the
Medford/Somerville campus and adjoins Tufts' other athletic buildings.
It bears the name of the Gantcher family-Trustee Chair Nathan Gantcher,
A62, his wife, Alice, and their three children, Joel, Michael and
Kimberly-who made a lead gift.
The three-year campaign to complete the project was spearheaded
by the Board of Overseers for Athletics, chaired by Trustee Emeritus
John O'Neill, E50, and board members Varney Hintlian, A72, and Dan
Kraft, A87. Tufts Tomorrow campaign co-chairs Nathan Gantcher, A62,
and Jim Stern, E72, played critical roles as well in raising support.
"We're grateful for this wonderful new addition to Tufts athletics,"
said Athletic Director Bill Gehling, A74, G79. "The entire
Board of Overseers for Athletics played a critical role in helping
this dream become a reality. This facility will benefit nearly all
of our 900 intercollegiate athletes as well as allow us to greatly
enhance our intramural and recreational offerings."
Capping the evening's program was the announcement
of the largest single gift in the history of Tufts, $20 million
from Bernard Gordon. Gordon, considered the engineering genius behind
some of the world's most important lifesaving devices, among them
the fetal monitor and the instant imaging CT scanner, holds bachelor's
and master's degree in electrical engineering from MIT and has received
many honorary degrees, including one from Tufts, as well as the
National Medal of Technology.
Gordon became acquainted with Tufts in 1944 during Naval officer
training. A trustee and member of the Board of Overseers for Engineering,
Gordon allied his Gordon Institute with the College of Engineering
in 1992, where it is now based. Since its creation in 1984, the
graduate-level program for career engineers has graduated more than
120 engineering "enterprise leaders."
Through this generous philanthropy, Gordon "raises the bar
for all of us," said DiBiaggio. He "believes Tufts is
a great investment, so much so, that he's investing a record $20
million in our engineering program. This investment speaks volumes
about how special Tufts has become."
Dean of the Engineering College Ioannis Miaoulis, E83, M86, PhD
87, responded to the gift later, saying, "We are thrilled that
Bernard Gordon continues to invest in Tufts. He has devoted a great
deal of time and attention to strengthening engineering at Tufts
throughout the past decade. We are grateful that, through this extraordinary
gift, the College of Engineering and its diverse collaborative programs
will continue to attract top students, faculty and graduate engineers
who can assume leadership roles in a variety of professional endeavors."
Mel Bernstein, vice president of arts, sciences and engineering,
reinforced the dean's comments, adding, "Engineering education
will flourish by stressing the value of teamwork and crossdisciplinary
skills for problemsolving. This approach has been one of the hallmarks
of Dr. Gordon's remarkable success and we look forward to incorporating
more of this into our curriculum and programs."
For the final highlight of the evening, DiBiaggio presented Gordon,
72, with the Presidential Medal in recognition of his achievements
in critical areas of science, technology, medicine and education,
all developed "for the good of all humanity." Gordon,
remarking briefly on his award, quipped that guests were probably
wondering "why a poor nerd from MIT" would give to Tufts.
He then went on to recall a day in 1944, when he was walking across
campus in his Navy uniform and a "lanky gentleman," then-President
Leonard Carmichael, greeted him by name.
"How he knew my name has been a question for 55 years,"
said Gordon. "But I think there is something unusual about
Tufts-the friendliness, the atmosphere of the institution . . .
In my associations with Tufts I have found out [that this] has substantially
affected my life, that it has made a gentleman of me. So I always
consider that there would be nothing else to do but to pay my tuition