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The New Hub of Campus Life

The sounds of music—and an occasional dog howl—filled the Agnes Varis Campus Center Auditorium as talented veterinary students presented a tuneful thank you to the volunteers of Tufts Paws for People, a program that sends pets on visits to elder-care facilities, the Grafton and Shrewsbury public library reading programs, and a residential program for at-risk adolescents.

“The Concert for the Animals” in 2010 debuted the veterinary school’s new C3 Yamaha Concert Grand Piano, with pianist Melissa Doolin, V13, playing Debussy’s Children’s Corner suite, and Emily Roye, V13, performing a medley of songs about animals by the American composer Samuel Barber.

Agnes Varis, H03, a member of the Cummings School’s Board of Overseers and a Tufts trustee emerita, and a lover of animals and of music, provided major gifts for the campus center and auditorium and the piano.

The concert was just one of a full schedule of events and activities that have helped make the Varis Campus Center and Auditorium the heart of the campus community in Grafton.

For example, in recent months, the Varis Center has played host to a weekend-long symposium on animal behavior; jazz concerts as part of a campus performing arts series; and once-a-month “Tuesdays at Tufts” lectures as part of a continuing-education program for area veterinarians.

Students pack the center’s Elms Café, bookstore, and fitness center and attend lectures in the 173-seat auditorium. Student meeting and study spaces—as well as a lounge with pool and foosball tables—add to the student experience.

“To have one area for our campus community to gather, study, eat, exercise, work, and play has been a dream for the Cummings School throughout our 30-year history,” says Dean Deborah T. Kochevar, D.V.M., Ph.D.

“The Agnes Varis Campus Center is the new hub of campus life here, and we are deeply appreciative of the support from Dr. Varis and the school’s friends that allowed this renovation to take place.”