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New endowed professorship furthers engineering faculty development

When John A. Adams, E39, passed away in 1993, his widow, Dorothy, sought a way to honor his connection to Tufts while also ensuring she would comfortably live out the rest of her life.

In 2005 Dorothy Adams established a charitable gift annuity that paid her a fixed income for life. When she died earlier this year, the gift annuity terminated and the remaining principal from the gift was available to help the school her husband held so dear.

The John A. and Dorothy M. Adams Faculty Development Professorship will enable the School of Engineering to bring in a junior faculty member who will serve in the endowed position for a term of three years. The donation also established an endowed fellowship fund that will provide financial aid for a graduate student at the School of Engineering.

Jeffrey Hopwood, chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said it is challenging to recruit young professors, especially in the area of alternative energy research, where such researchers are highly sought after. Thanks to the new professorship, he says, his department was able to bring in Thomas Vandervelde, who will become an assistant professor. Vandervelde comes to Tufts from the University of New Mexico, where he was a research assistant professor. His current work focuses on the development of high-efficiency solar cells and infrared detectors. He is the recipient of numerous fellowships, including the Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in 2004.

"Tom will not only be a major contributor to the School of Engineering's thrust area of sustainable engineering, but he is highly dedicated to teaching and education," Hopwood says. "Finding and recruiting the top young Ph.D. recipients is highly competitive. It is particularly difficult to recruit new faculty who are dedicated to both highly effective teaching and world-class research. In addition, with a renewed interest in alternative energy, many universities are searching for new faculty with expertise in this area."

Hopwood says the new faculty-development professorship was "an integral part of our recruiting effort. It allows us to compete head to head with schools that are much larger than Tufts for the best new faculty recruits."