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Summer 2003
  “Give Back, Push Forward and Lead”
Highlights of Tufts' 147th Commencement
  Meeting Climate Change Goals
Tufts announces adoption of climate change goals of NEG/ECP
  Element at Risk
A visit from Dr. Vahid Alavian, senior water resources specialist at the World Bank
  A Summit for “Strong Women”
Miriam Nelson, N85, N87 and Erin Brockovitch to speak at benefit this fall
  This Semester:
Latin American Literature and Film

An interview with Spanish Department Lecturer Claudia Mejia

“Give Back, Push Forward
and Lead”

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret Marshall challenged graduates at Tufts’ 147th Commencement to remain open-minded and curious as they leave Tufts in pursuit of their dreams.

“You graduate today from one of the world’s most distinguished and most demanding universities,” said Marshall. “Your diploma is a testament to your hard work. It is also a pact between you and the community that has given you so much. It is a promise to give back, to push forward, to lead.”

This year’s ceremony unfolded under sunny skies on May 18, as 2,203 graduates processed into the Academic Quad, packed with family and friends.Tufts awarded 1,009 graduate degrees and 1,194 undergraduate degrees.

Keynote speaker Marshall, a former anti-apartheid activist in South Africa, stressed that diversity of thought is a hallmark of higher education and a critical element of leadership. “As I look out on this extraordinary assembly, I see women and men of all races and all ages. You come from widely different backgrounds. You come from the United States and from other countries across our world. No two of you think alike,” she said. “But you each have been nurtured and motivated by teachers who are dedicated, passionately dedicated, to preparing you to assume leadership roles in our global community.”

She spoke of growing up during the era of apartheid in South Africa and asked students to “remember always your experiences at Tufts. For there has seldom been a more urgent need in this nation and in this community of nations for leaders who can disagree without name calling, who can criticize without destroying, who can be firm without rigidity. Your teachers have taught you to be open-minded and curious; they have taught you to be impatient with things as they are and not to mistake excuses for answers. They have taught you to work together. They have, in short, given you the tools to make a difference. How you use those tools will shape the arc of your own lives and be the legacy of your generation.”

Tufts also celebrated lives of extraordinary achievement as it awarded honorary degrees to Marshall; Arthur Mitchell, founder of the Dance Theatre of Harlem; Mario Molina, a Nobel Prize–winning environmental scientist; and Agnes Varis, founder and CEO of the New Jersey–based pharmaceuticals company Agvar Chemicals, Inc.

Nerd Girls team

Students brought joy and whimsy to graduating ceremonies on the Academic Quad. (Photo by Mark Morelli)


In addition, Commencement included individual school ceremonies. At the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, where 162 degrees were awarded, Dr. Mohammed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which carried out weapons inspections in Iraq, called for greater interdependence on such global issues as nuclear weapons. “We think globally in terms of trade,” he said, “but we continue to think locally in terms of violent conflicts.”

The Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy celebrated the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Institute of Nutrition, the precursor to the school. Dean Irwin H. Rosenberg toasted the silver anniversary as he acknowledged the 69 students who received degrees.

In the ceremony for the Schools of Arts & Sciences and Engineering, Elaine Wang, winner of the Wendell Phillips Award, gave the student oration. Faculty-awarded emeritus certificates were given to Alan J. Clayton, professor of French; William J. Crochetiere, professor of mechanical engineering; Pierre H. Laurent, professor of history; Sarah M. Terry, associate professor of political science; and George Leger, Robinson Professor of Mathematics.

At the School of Dental Medicine, Dean Lonnie H. Norris commended the 219 graduates for “maturity and compassion, for unity, morale and dedication to excellence.”

The School of Medicine granted 210 degrees and the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences 27 diplomas at their joint Commencement ceremony. Dr. Nicolaos E. Madias, dean ad interim of the medical school, urged the newly minted doctors to remain faithful to what he called the “eternally sacred” doctor-patient relationship. “Physicians can have only one master, their patients,” he said.
The School of Veterinary Medicine honored 81 doctors of veterinary medicine and eight recipients of master’s degrees. Former veterinary school dean Franklin M. Loew, who died in April, had been invited to be a speaker at the Commencement. His speech was read by his wife, Deborah Digges, professor of English at Tufts.


Meeting Climate Change Goals

Tufts is the first university in New England to adopt the climate change goals of the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers (NEG/ECP), an international partnership of states and provinces focused on the environment, economic development, energy and other issues.

The announcement was made by President Lawrence S. Bacow on May 12 at the Climate Solutions for the Northeast Conference. The climate change goals, set by the NEG/ECP Conference in August 2001, require a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2010, and ultimately an emissions reduction of 75 to 80 percent.

“Tufts has long understood the negative environmental impacts of climate change, and we believe it’s important to take our environmental responsibilities seriously while also looking for solutions,” said Bacow. “At Tufts we strive to couple our scholarship with active citizenship—this commitment is one way we are doing this.”

In 1999, Tufts became the first university that pledged to meet or beat the goals of the Kyoto Protocol—an international agreement ratified by more than 180 countries to reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions—by pledging to reduce the University’s own greenhouse gas emissions. The NEG/ECP regional goals are consistent with the Tufts’ Kyoto pledge in the short term, but more aggressive in the long term. Tufts already has taken a number of significant steps to operate more efficiently on its campuses by reducing the emission of greenhouse gases.

Measures have included the installation of energy-efficient lighting, room occupancy sensors, vending machine “energy misers,” solar hot-water systems and front-loading washing machines in existing buildings. Tufts also plans to build a new dormitory that will feature photovoltaic panels to power the building, solar-heated water and other environmentally friendly design features.

At the conference in Hartford, Connecticut, Tufts was given a 2003 Northeast Climate Champion Award from Clean Air-Cool Planet. The award recognizes institutions of higher education, businesses and municipalities that have adopted the kinds of policies and actions that need to be universally accepted if the U.S. is to effectively address the urgent problem of climate change. “Tufts is an environmental role model to universities throughout New England and around the country,” said Clean Air-Cool Planet executive director Adam Markham.

“Tufts’ groundbreaking leadership through the Tufts Climate Initiative, its outstanding environmental research, and its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions make it a very worthy recipient of one of our inaugural Climate Champion Awards.”

Element at Risk

Water is a finite resource without which life could not survive. But for much of the world’s developing population, water does not come from a faucet, quench thirst, cook food or contribute to health and cleanliness. Some 1.1 billion people lack access to improved water services, 2.4 billion are without improved sanitation, and 3 billion children die from waterborne diseases each year.

The severity of that global water challenge, and the complexity of new solutions, was underscored at Tufts recently with a visit from Dr. Vahid Alavian, senior water resources specialist at the World Bank.

Invited to speak on May 1 at the first Water Resources Leadership Lecture, Alavian described the urgent need for interdisciplinary approaches to water issues—approaches that include the input of socioeconomic experts as well as engineers, scientists and health experts.

Polluted water sources for drinking and bathing, water scarcity, rapid industrialization and ecological disasters have all contributed to a mounting international alarm about water resources and public health, said Alavian.
The event, sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Steering Committee of Water: Systems, Science and Society, brought together more than 150 people from across the University as well as water management officials from Massachusetts and the federal government to learn about pressing water resources problems and the role of integrated assessment in managing them.
Water problems have been a consistent theme at international human development and environmental conferences in the last 30 years, said Paul Kirshen, research professor in civil and environmental engineering.

“We are pleased that Dr. Alavian agreed to visit us and help draw attention to a concern that many of us at Tufts share,” said Kirshen. “Stresses on our water resources are either a major cause or a result of other problems the U.S. and the world now face—population growth, public health, biodiversity, terrorism, national conflicts, food security, energy and climate change. Those of us working in water resources must understand and work with other disciplines to better respond to these and water resource problems.”

The event comes at a time when Tufts is rapidly shaping broad solutions to the water crisis. A cross-school graduate program on integrated water resources management, Water: Systems, Science and Society (WSSS), is expected to start this fall, pending funding.

The WSSS program bears testimony to Tufts’ growing interdisciplinary focus on water. In the past five years, Tufts researchers have received more than $15 million in funding because of their leadership in tackling a wide range of water issues. Researchers at the School of Medicine, the School of Veterinary Medicine and the School of Engineering, for instance, have been researching the pathogen cryptosporidium, a contributor to more than 2.2 million deaths per year.

Tufts researchers most recently received two three-year grants from the EPA totaling more than $1.2 million to study how to control the destructive effects of excessive nutrients in waterways. Steven Chapra, the Louis Berger Chair of Computing and Engineering, said the computer modeling project will leverage Tufts’ expertise in developing computer models “that will reflect the ways in which nutrients—such as lawn fertilizer, animal waste and other substances—enter America’s waterways.”

Some of the digital modeling tools are being developed with colleagues from MIT and North Carolina State University to help local communities in the Mystic River watershed map out their watersheds, identify trouble spots and take cost-effective steps to manage the nutrients entering the water. The Tufts team also will develop similar computer models that will be used by the Environmental Protection Agency and state governments. Such modeling efforts with a combined focus on engineering and socioeconomic issues are also the types of tools that will be necessary to address water management issues in the developing world. Members of the Tufts WaterSHED Center, a focal point for interdisciplinary water resources activities, also will be exploring potential applications of such tools this summer in West Africa.

According to Alavian, development goals are implicitly linked with water scarcity and safety. Consequently, solutions call for a concerted effort on all fronts of the human condition: eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, and ensuring environmental stability, among others.

The outlook, he said, remains daunting. But international players are coming together around a sharper recognition of water as a “top item on the global agenda.” Tufts, he added, is already taking the lead through its growing commitment to developing water-related educational and outreach activities. “Tufts programs and those like them are evidence that we need alternatives to the traditional responses to water issues,” he said. “In the past, the answers were largely driven by engineering projects, technology, economic gain. But we know that this approach has often impeded problem solving. I am hopeful that such programs will set a new standard for finding inspiring answers to global water issues.”
A Summit for “Strong Women”

Miriam Nelson, N85, N87, who has reached over a million women through her Strong Women book series, and Erin Brockovich, an environmental activist whose story was the subject of an Oscar-winning film, will be among those who speak at a benefit this fall for the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

The Stonyfield Farm Strong Women Summit will be held at the Mohonk Mountain House, near New Paltz, New York, from November 14 to 16.

Nelson, associate professor of nutrition at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and director of the Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition at Tufts, is the author of international best-sellers, including Strong Women Stay Young and Strong Women Stay Slim. For the past 15 years she has been principal investigator of studies on exercise and nutrition for older adults.

For years, said Nelson, women have asked her to organize a Strong Women event “where women from around the country could come together to learn and get inspired to make changes in their lives, in their family’s lives and in the communities in which they live.”

Recently, Nelson found a supporter and sponsor in Stonyfield Farm, the leading manufacturer of all-natural and organic yogurt in the U.S. Nelson said that she can now help plan an event “to celebrate, educate and motivate women to believe that positive thinking and activism begins with health, good nutrition, exercise and attitude.” Other speakers include Emmy Award–winning comedienne Loretta LaRoche and Linda Mason, chair and founder of Bright Horizons Family Solutions, the world’s largest provider of employer-sponsored child care and early education. All four speakers will address how they overcame obstacles to become successful leaders in their fields. Attendees will also work out with a group of exceptional athletes and hear their inspirational stories.

Net proceeds from the event will benefit the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. For more information or to register, go to www.stonyfield.com/strongwomen or call 1-800-PRO-COWS.

This Semester:
Latin American Literature and Film

Instructor: Claudia Mejía, Spanish Department Lecturer
Topic: Latin American Literature and Film

First of all—why film and literature?
I am passionate not just about stories but about the way they are told. Gabriel García Márquez once said, which I quote in the course syllabus, “The only thing I care about in this world is the act of creation. How is it that a simple desire to tell stories can inspire such passion? How mysterious that one would die for this passion that, if we think about it, no one can see or touch and at the end has no use at all.” This course highlights Latin American literary works which have been adapted to the screen and allows us the opportunity to analyze how the same story can be told in two different languages: cinema and literature. Also, art is the perfect medium for spreading and understanding culture. Film speaks to everybody. When you watch a film, you listen to the language, hear the nuance of inflection, and see the gestures, the clothes, the houses, aspects of everyday life which immerse the viewer not only in the culture of the story, but of the storyteller as well. The use of the two mediums helps the student understand more clearly the passion for creativity of the author, the screenwriter and the film director.

How do you structure the course?

We begin with an introduction to the history of Latin American cinema, paying special attention to the evolution of the new Latin American cinema. We also briefly cover the language of cinema, the camera, the lighting, the sound, etc. After this introduction, the course is divided into two parts. The first part is focused on the directors. I show two movies per director from different countries: Cuba, Argentina, Colombia. The last part of the class has a focus on Gabriel García Márquez. My students usually have read him but aren’t familiar with his long relationship with cinema. He studied cinema in Italy, and then worked for a time as a screenwriter in México. He has stayed closely involved with film: teaching a screenwriting workshop in the School for Cinema and TV of San Antonio de los Baños in Cuba, and as founder and president of the Fundación del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano.
The students prepare for class by reading a short story or novel, reviews about the movie adapted from the literary work, and interviews with the directors/writers. We then show the movie and discuss the approach to literary adaptation.

What are some of the films you study?

I show around ten movies, such as Rodrigo D, No Future by the Colombian director Víctor Gaviria, Strawberry and Chocolate by Cuban director Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, and the Argentinean movie I Don’t Want to Talk About It by Maria Luisa Bemberg. We also watch some adaptations of García Márquez works such as Miracle in Rome and No One Writes to the Colonel.

You have also hosted a Colombian Film Festival at Tufts since 2000. What led you to start the festival?
Colombia has been living in an unprecedented period of violence since the early ’90s. This violence has forced thousands to seek refuge abroad, and the U.S. is a prime destination for many. Right now, in New England, the Colombian population is growing rapidly, so I created the festival, with the collaboration of the Colombian Consulate in Boston, as a way to bring together this diaspora. In this way, our University serves as a needed forum for dialogue among Tufts students, the immigrant Colombian population and the community at large. This is the only festival of this type in New England and has been extremely well attended. I am thrilled to see the level of support for Colombian cinema and to see the students’ growing interest in becoming familiar with Colombian culture and themes.

Do you have a sense of obligation to your country?

I do, I do. That’s why I also developed a course called Colombian Art and Culture. I’m trying to open the minds of my students to my country. Sometimes they just know what they see on TV—drugs and violence; but Colombia is a much more complex society. I want my students to also experience the richness of Colombian culture—its renowned writers, singers, painters, filmmakers. I’ve also invited Colombian people to come to Tufts. This spring, as part of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies Film Series, we hosted a filmmaker, Marta Rodríguez, who has documented the lives of internal refugees following massacres that took place in 1997 near Panamá. Also last year, I invited Lisandro Duque, a filmmaker who worked closely with García Márquez in the movie Miracle in Rome. So it’s not just a matter of giving a course, but also opening the eyes of the whole community to a wider vision of Colombia. I am currently working on a dream that I have had to strengthen educational connections with Colombia by hosting a virtual exchange between my students here at Tufts and a university in Colombia via teleconferences or email. For me, it’s extremely important to nurture dialogue between cultures, and now it is possible by taking advantage of the new technology.