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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.

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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 anniversary.

"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' future aspirations."

Historic Gathering
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 speaker.

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 trustees.

"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 21st century."

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 position."

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."

Gantcher Family Sports and Convocation Center

The Gantcher Center, Tufts' new athletic facility The Gantcher 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."

Digital Age Pioneer Chooses Tufts for Record $20 Million Gift

Bernard Gordon, H97 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 to Tufts."

   

 

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