Educating Global Leaders
The Following is an excerpt of President Bacow's Inaugural address
on April 19. 2002.
On the surface, an inauguration is about installing-and maybe even
flattering-a new president. But in reality, it's also a moment for
celebrating the institution. And we at Tufts have much to celebrate.
Today, we reflect on the past, savor the present and look to the
I would like to begin, however, by thanking a few of the people
responsible for the fact that I am standing before you today in
these robes: My father, Mitchell Bacow, who taught me the importance
of honesty, integrity and always speaking one's mind. Dad, I hope
the latter will not get me into too much trouble in my new job.
My late mother, Ruth, who recognized that I was born to be a teacher
long before I ever did. My wife, best friend, now Tufts' first lady,
and I also hope, Tufts' first friend, Adele, who has helped to make
my life so rich, so full, and so much fun. And our two sons, Jay
and Kenny, the light of my life, who help me immeasurably by telling
me things about college life that most university presidents never
get to hear firsthand.
I also want to thank the other great teachers in my life. Some
of them are here today: Bob Solow, my undergraduate mentor; Mark
Moore and Richard Zeckhauser, two of my doctoral dissertation advisors.
Together, they shaped the intellectual lenses through which I view
the world. Chuck Vest and Jim Freedman have taught me much about
what it takes to lead a great university.
But one of my most important teachers appeared long, long before
college and career. I knew her back then as "Mrs. Chandler." And
in a sunny, fourth-grade classroom of Webster Elementary School
in Pontiac, Michigan, she taught me, very gently, how important
it was to listen . . . because other people had really interesting
things to say. For a university president, that is a very important
lesson. I am delighted, truly delighted to say that Mrs. Chandler
is with us here today. Shirley Chandler Bitterman, thank you for
having taught me so well.
A former president of Brown, Henry Wriston, once described the
challenges faced by every college or university president: "The
president," Wriston said, "is expected to be an educator, to have
been at some time a scholar, to have judgment about finance, to
know something about construction, maintenance and labor policy,
to speak virtually continuously in words that charm and never offend,
to take bold positions with which no one will disagree, to consult
everyone and follow all proffered advice, and do everything through
committees but with great speed and without error."
To this I might add, "to raise money unceasingly without ever seeming
to ask," and "to eat splendid meals non-stop in service to one's
institution without ever gaining a pound." Evidently, these challenges
haven't changed much through the years. In fact, upon being elected
the first president of Tufts, a century and a half ago, Hosea Ballou
had a lively sense of the pressures of the job. He also maintained
an admirable equanimity about their consequences: "If I am ground
into powder," he wrote, "I hope it will bring the price of flour
From Hosea Ballou to John DiBiaggio, my predecessors have all
cast themselves enthusiastically between the millstones-and in the
process, this great institution has been both leavened and enriched.
The last half-century especially has been a time of great progress
and evolution here at Tufts. Together with many devoted colleagues,
Presidents Nils Wessel, Burt Hallowell, the late Jean Mayer and
my predecessor, John DiBiaggio, built Tufts from an excellent regional
university to an institution of truly international prominence.
I know I speak for the entire Tufts family when I say how grateful
we are for their vision, persistence and leadership. Burt and John,
we thank you for all you and your fellow presidents have done on
behalf of Tufts.
And our presidents have been far from the only leaders Tufts can
claim. Our faculty have relieved human suffering and advanced human
knowledge in every field you can name, from developing the basic
mathematics and physics that produced the CAT scan, to editing the
most widely circulated edition of Shakespeare's works in the world.
Our faculty have also produced something unexpected from most great
research universities, but the very signature of this one: generation
after generation of superb and beloved teachers. Great teachers
like Gerald Gill, who was named Massachusetts Professor of the Year-twice.
Great teachers like Dr. Jane Deforges, who taught generations of
aspiring doctors at our Medical School. Great teachers like Sol
Gittleman. At what other research university would the most popular
undergraduate course on campus be taught by the provost? As we extend
our reach as a university, we must also extend this marvelous legacy
of inspired teaching for every generation of students to come.
Of course, we are also shaping the world through our former students.
Our alumni are helping to mold the future of electronic commerce.
Redefining the way news is delivered digitally and in print. Pushing
the frontiers of nutrition, medical and dental practice. Contributing
to the search for peace in countless capitols and embassies throughout
the world. And as we all know, this search for peace has never been
more important than it is today.
We come together today at a grandly symbolic moment for this institution:
Sunday is Tuftonia's Day, the 150th anniversary of the founding
of Tufts College. We should take tremendous pride in the accomplishments
of those 150 years-our first 150. But to do justice to all those
who have brought us this far, today we must ask: what of the future?
How will we prepare the next generation of Tufts students to address
the challenges we face-as a species, as a society, as a planet?
To a world beset with so many urgent needs and opportunities, what
will be the unique contribution of Tufts?
The answer is both simple-and complex:
Educating the first generation of leaders for a truly global world.
But what does that mean, exactly? And how do we do it at Tufts?
We do it not only by attracting students to the study of international
relations-by far our most popular major-but by encouraging them
to live the subject. By sending 40 percent of our undergraduates
to study abroad. By leading the nation in the number of Peace Corps
volunteers for schools of comparable size. By bringing to our campus
an incredibly diverse and international student body, and practicing,
together, the difficult and sometimes even painful task of learning
to live with our differences.
How do we educate leaders for a truly global world? By teaching
collaboration as a way of life-and a source of answers. By bringing
together research and education in ways that could not be accomplished
Imagine a collaboration among faculty from the Fletcher School
of Law and Diplomacy, the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and
Policy, and our School of Veterinary Medicine. What problem might
draw faculty from these three schools together? The answer: famine
relief. Our Vet School developed a powerful vaccine to treat a devastating
disease of cattle in equatorial Africa. These faculty came together
with faculty from the Friedman School of Nutrition and the Fletcher
School to teach young Africans to administer it, on site-themselves.
These barefoot vets, as they are called, are helping to alleviate
hunger in war-torn Sudan by improving the productivity of the livestock
that people's lives depend on .
How do we educate leaders for a truly global world? Not only by
cultivating in our students profound professional expertise-but
also by educating politicians and diplomats who are qualified to
discuss the ethics of cloning, or the science of climate change.
By educating chemists who love poetry, music and the arts . . .
doctors who love politics . . . business leaders who speak three
languages, besides finance. By educating engineers who believe that
the quest for peace on Earth is their problem, too. In short, by
helping our students become active, engaged, effective citizens
-in the best tradition of Tufts, and in the great tradition of a
People comfortable dealing with ambiguity. People willing to take
a risk to make a difference. People more interested in solving problems
than in taking credit. People who -Mrs. Chandler will be glad to
hear-can appreciate what others have to say. Who are both effective
advocates -and aggressive listeners. People who are eager to imagine
and implement large, daring, multifaceted solutions-together. That
is what we do at Tufts-and we do it exceptionally well. In cultivating
students with the breadth, perspective, awareness and sense of responsibility
that grow from a liberal education, we stand among the very first
But there are new challenges ahead. To maintain and enhance our
intellectual vibrancy and our international stature, and to educate
tomorrow's leaders, we need to focus on four critical areas of growth
First, we need to ensure that Tufts remains accessible to all and
not just the wealthy few. Attending an elite university in this
country has become a tremendous financial burden for families. Across
the country, tuition seems to rise inexorably. As a student of economics,
I am always interested in efficiency. But I'm afraid that many of
the things that would curb costs and make Tufts "more efficient"-larger
classes, fewer faculty, less mentoring, fewer independent studies-would
make us much, much less productive by every measure that really
matters to us here. The economies of mass production just do not
apply. If we want to keep a Tufts education accessible to more than
the affluent few . . . If we want to preserve the intimacy that
we value so much at Tufts . . . If we want to admit students on
a truly need-blind basis . . . If we want our graduate students
to be able to choose their careers based on something other than
the need to pay off huge student loans . . .If we want to attract
and retain the very best faculty and staff-we must develop an endowment
in keeping with our stature as a university, and we will.
Second, we need to be attentive to the entire realm of the undergraduate
experience. Today, colleges and universities everywhere are rushing
to define themselves as "student-centered." At Tufts, we can say
with confidence and pride that we already are. And yet we know there
is more we can do to understand and enhance the many ways our students
learn, both inside and outside the classroom. We need continually
to raise the bar of intellectual excitement and challenge-while
finding new ways to educate the whole person as well.
Third, we need to strengthen support for our graduate programs,
and to invest in the intellectual infrastructure that supports great
scholarship. If we do it right, we will not only magnify our scholarly
reputation and enhance the quality of graduate education, but we
will strengthen the learning experience for our undergraduates as
And finally, we must draw together, ever more closely, our eight
distinguished schools. This may sound like merely a matter of bureaucratic
convenience. But I'm convinced there is no better way to enhance
our rare position as the home of an elite liberal arts college in
the heart of a great university. And in a time marked by massively
complex problems that know no boundaries of geography or discipline
. . . income inequality, climate change, the ethics of new reproductive
technologies, the perils of international terrorism . . . our ability
to contribute will depend on our capacity to pool our knowledgeĐand
pull together as one with ever more permeable boundaries between
schools, departments and disciplines.
One hundred and fifty years ago, Charles Tufts yearned to put a
light of inquiry and inspiration here on Walnut Hill. With an act
of great personal vision and generosity, he did so. Today, that
light is made of many flames, which blaze on this hill and well
beyond. It is our challenge now to bring them together to shine
as one, and raise them still higher, to shed their light across
the world. To be joined with you in this mission, I am more honored
and grateful than I can say. It is a challenge that I accept humbly
and with great determination
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