Tufts University

Tufts University

Tufts University, main campus at Medford, Mass.; coeducational; chartered 1852 by Universalists as a college for men. It became a university in 1955. Jackson College, formerly a coordinate undergraduate college for women, merged with the College of Liberal Arts in 1980. The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy is part of the Medford campus. The university's medical and dental schools are in Boston, and the veterinary school is in North Grafton. Tufts opened the first school of nutrition in the United States in 1981; it also operates the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture's Human Nutrition Research Center in Boston. Also of note is the Tufts European Study Center at Tailloires, France.

Tufts University is a private research university in Medford/Somerville, near Boston, Massachusetts, USA. The university is home to the nation's oldest graduate school of international relations, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.


In 1852, Tufts College was founded by Universalists who had for years worked to open a non-sectarian institution of higher learning. Charles Tufts donated the land for the campus on Walnut Hill, the highest point in Medford, saying that he wanted to set a "light on the hill." The name was changed to "Tufts University" in 1954, although the corporate name remains "the Trustees of Tufts College." After over a century as a small New England liberal arts college, the French-American nutritionist Jean Mayer became president of Tufts in the late 1970s and, through a series of rapid acquisitions, transformed the school into an international research university.

Tufts is organized into 10 schools, including two undergraduate programs and eight graduate divisions, on four campuses in Massachusetts and on the eastern border of France. The university emphasizes public service in all of its disciplines and is well-known for internationalism and its study abroad programs.



In 1852, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts chartered Tufts College. The original act of incorporation noted the college should promote "virtue and piety and learning in such of the languages and liberal and useful arts as shall be recommended."

Charles Tufts was the donor of the land the university now occupies on the Medford-Somerville line. The twenty-acre plot, given to the Universalist church on the condition that it be used for a college, was valued at $20,000 and located on one of the highest hills in the Boston area, Walnut Hill. Having been one of the biggest influences in the establishment of the College, Hosea Ballou II became the first president in 1853.

Seal and School Colors

The official seal of Tufts College was created on July 17, 1857, by vote of the Board of Trustees. The design they adopted showed a dove with olive branch and an open Bible as symbols. "Pax et Lux," or Peace and Light, was chosen as the aphorism, with the words "Sigillum Collegii Tuftensis" meaning seal of Tufts College. The original design showed the dove of peace with the olive branch in its beak flying downward toward an open Bible resting on a rocky eminence, like a hill. The sun's rays stream through clouds in the background. A modified version of this original seal still serves as the seal of the university today.

The school colors of Tufts University are brown and blue. The shade of brown is generally called chocolate brown, and the blue is variously described as between light and middle blue, or dusty sky blue. Though this color combination was chosen by the student body in 1876, the colors were not made officially the colors of Tufts University until 1960, when the Trustees voted on the matter.

In Tufts' early years, a cherry-red color was informally used as the school color, but this was felt to be too similar to Harvard's crimson. In 1876, the undergraduates decided to settle the issue by establishing the colors once and for all. In the ensuing discussions, two factions emerged, one favoring seal brown and pearl white, the other, seal brown and gold. Blue was settled on as a compromise, though no specific shade of blue was singled out.

P.T. Barnum

P.T. Barnum was one of the earliest benefactors of Tufts College, and the Barnum Museum of Natural History (known today as Barnum Hall) was constructed in 1884 with funds donated by him. Barnum donated the building to house his collection of animal specimens and featured the stuffed hide of Jumbo the elephant. On April 14, 1975, fire gutted Barnum Hall; the collection housed in the building was completely lost, including numerous animal specimens, Barnum's desk and bust, and the stuffed hide of Jumbo the elephant.


In 1859, the Tufts School of Theology (later renamed the Crane Theological School) was founded.

On July 15, 1892, the Tufts Board of Trustees voted "that the College be opened to women in the undergraduate departments on the same terms and conditions as men." At that same meeting, the trustees also voted to create a graduate school faculty and to offer the Ph.D. degree in biology and chemistry. That vote also included the line "that graduate courses at the College be opened to candidates of either sex."

Tufts University School of Medicine was voted into existence by the Trustees on April 22, 1893. It was formed by the secession of seven faculty from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Boston, a school which was formed in 1880. These "original seven" faculty members successfully lobbied to establish a medical school under the auspices of Tufts College. By 1905, the medical school was the largest such school in New England, with a faculty of 105 and 403 students.

The College of Engineering was formally established in 1898, though engineering courses and degrees had been offered as part of the Tufts College curriculum since 1865.

Tufts School of Dental Medicine came into existence in 1899 with the acquisition of the Boston Dental College by Tufts.

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences was officially founded in 1909, more than thirty years after the first graduate degree was awarded at Tufts College.

The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy was established in 1933 by a bequest from Austin Barclay Fletcher, late president of the Board of Trustees and lifetime benefactor of Tufts. Fletcher's gift of $1,000,000 was intended to finance a school of law and diplomacy, but it was nearly ten years after his death before the Fletcher School opened its doors. When it did so, in the midst of the Great Depression and with the collaboration of Harvard University, the Fletcher School became the first graduate-only school of international affairs in the United States.

The Boston School of Occupational Therapy (BSOT) is part of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences on the Medford campus. The school was founded in 1918 and was first affiliated with Tufts in 1945. It offers master's degrees and several certificate programs in aspects of occupational therapy, and is accredited by the American Council for Occupational Therapy Education. The school merged with Tufts in 1960 to form the Tufts University-Boston School of Occupational Therapy within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. When the undergraduate component of the curriculum was phased out in 1986, it became part of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

In the fall of 1954, the possibility that the term "Tufts University" was "more truly descriptive of the institution, including its many graduate schools," was considered by the trustees. This came at the prompting of current and former Tufts Presidents Wessell and Carmichael. A petition for the change was filed January 20, 1955 and was approved January 28 by the Massachusetts Board of Collegiate Authority and by 1955, "Tufts University" was made the official name.

In 1968, the Crane School of Theology closed.

The Mayer Era

The university experienced tremendous growth during the presidency of Jean Mayer (1976–1992). Mayer was, by all accounts, some combination of "charming, witty, duplicitous, ambitious, brilliant, intellectual, opportunistic, generous, vain, slippery, loyal, possessed of an inner standard of excellence, and charismatic". Mayer established Tufts' veterinary, nutrition, and biomedical schools and acquired the Grafton and Talloires campuses, at the same time lifting the university out of its dire financial situation by increasing the size of the endowment by a factor of 15.

Recent Developments

In February, 2000, a $10 million gift from Pierre Omidyar, A88, and Pam Wesley Omidyar, J89, made possible the founding of the Tufts University College of Citizenship and Public Service (UCCPS). The mission of UCCPS is to educate for active citizenship -- to produce committed public citizens and leaders who will take an active role in addressing community challenges throughout their lifetimes, what ever professions they may choose. The UCCPS is a vehicle for supporting and reinforcing the efforts of all Tufts schools and departments to promote active citizenship and public service. The UCCPS differs from other university public service efforts in its commitment to involving all disciplines and influencing the education of all graduates, in its focus on education in values and skills of active citizenship, and in its university-wide scope. Part of its mission is to be a national model other institutions of higher learning.

Tufts is in the midst of a capital campaign, entitled Beyond Boundaries, with the intent of raising $1.2 billion and fully implementing need-blind admission. Previously, the university had received the three largest donations in its history during 2005 and 2006. On 4 November 2005, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam donated $100 million to Tufts to establish the Omidyar-Tufts Microfinance Fund. On 12 May 2006, Jonathan Tisch gave $40 million to endow the University College of Citizenship and Public Service, which now bears his name. The veterinary school was named in honor of William S. Cummings after a $50 million donation to the school in 2005. On September 4, 2007, it was announced that Steve Tisch had donated $10 million to support a $35 million athletics and fitness facilities expansion planned to begin in late 2008. In addition, the Jaharis Family Foundation donated $15 million to renovate the Sackler Center for Health Communications and build a new campus center for the Boston campus and medical school. Tufts received a gift of $136 million, the largest in the university's history, on April 9, 2008 upon the dissolution of a charitable trust set up by 1911 alumnus Frank C. Doble. As an unrestricted gift, the donation was invested entirely in the university's endowment. The investment will help finance the construction of a lab complex integrating biology and engineering, already in the planning stages, which will bear Doble's name. As of July 31, 2008, the campaign has raised $907.1 million.


Greater Boston

Tufts' main campus is located on Walnut Hill in Medford, about 5 miles (8 km) from Boston. While the majority of the campus is in Medford, the Somerville line runs through the campus, leaving some parts of the lower campus in Somerville. The main campus houses the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, parts of the Friedman School of Nutrition, and the University administration. The offices of the president, the provost, many of the vice presidents, and the dean of the School of Arts and Sciences are located in Ballou Hall, the oldest building on the hill. There are also administrative officers elsewhere on campus, as well as in the surrounding neighborhoods and Davis Square. Many points on the hill (especially the roof of the Tisch Library) have excellent views of the Boston skyline and the surrounding cities.

The Schools of Medicine, Biomedical Sciences, Dental Medicine, and Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy are located on a campus in the Chinatown neighborhood of Boston, adjacent to Tufts Medical Center (formerly the Tufts-New England Medical Center), a 451-bed academic medical institution. All full-time Tufts Medical Center physicians hold clinical faculty appointments at Tufts School of Medicine.

The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine is located in Grafton, Massachusetts, west of Boston, on a campus. The school also maintains the Ambulatory Farm Clinic in Woodstock, Connecticut and the Tufts Laboratory at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole on Cape Cod.


Tufts has a satellite campus in Talloires, France at the Tufts European Center, a former Benedictine priory built in the 11th century. The priory was purchased in 1958 by Donald MacJannet and his wife Charlotte and used as a summer camp site for several years before the MacJannets gave the campus to Tufts in 1978. Each year the center hosts a number of summer study programs, and enrolled students live with local families. The site is frequently the host of international conferences and summits.



Tufts' undergraduate program is ranked #28 overall on U.S. News & World Report's 2009 rankings of national universities tied with the Wake Forest University,, tied for #102 in Shanghai Jiao Tong University's 2007 Academic Ranking of World Universities,, and tied for #159 in the Times Higher Education 2007 World University Rankings.

In the Princeton Review's 2006 Best 361 Colleges, Tufts was named #7 in a list of the 20 schools in the country where students are happiest, and #17 in a list of the 20 schools in the country with the best food.


In the 2008 US News & World Report college rankings, Tufts tied Cornell as the 15th most selective university in the nation.

Tufts accepted 25% of applicants to its undergraduate Class of 2012, a 3% decrease from the previous year's admissions rate. Eighty-five percent of incoming freshmen ranked in the top 10% of their high school class. The average SAT score was 2122.

In selecting the Class of 2010, Dean of Arts and Sciences Robert Sternberg added experimental criteria to the application process for undergraduates to test "creativity and other non-academic factors." Calling it the "first major university to try such a departure from the norm," Inside Higher Ed also notes that Tufts continues to consider the SAT and other traditional criteria.


The Tufts University Library System contains over 3 million volumes. The main library, Tisch Library, holds about 2.5 million volumes, with other holdings dispersed at subject libraries which include the Hirsh Health Sciences Library on the Medical campus in Boston, the Edwin Ginn Library at the Fletcher School, the Lilly Music Library in the Granoff Music Center, and Webster Library at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine on the Grafton campus.


Tufts University comprises eight schools including:

Each school has its own faculty and is lead by a dean appointed by the president and the provost with the consent of the Board of Trustees. In addition, the university is affiliated with the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the New England Conservatory of Music.

The School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering are the only schools that award both undergraduate and graduate degrees. The Jackson College for Women, established in 1910 as a coordinate college adjacent to the Tufts campus, was integrated with the College of Liberal Arts in 1980, but is recognized in the formal name of the undergraduate arts and sciences division, the "College of Liberal Arts and Jackson College". Undergraduate women in arts and sciences continued to receive their diplomas from Jackson College until 2002.

The Fletcher School, the School of Medicine, the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, the School of Dental Medicine, the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine are exclusively graduate and professional schools. All of these schools, with the exception of dental medicine, award the Ph.D.

The Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service was founded in 2000 "to educate for active citizenship" with the help of a $10 million gift from eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam. In 2006 the school was renamed after a $40 million dollar gift from Jonathan Tisch. It has been called the "most ambitious attempt by any research university to make public service part of its core academic mission. Tisch College does not grant degrees; the college facilitates and supports a wide range of community service and civil engagement programs, research and teaching initiatives across the university.

Under the purview of the School of Arts and Sciences is the Experimental College, a non-degree granting entity created in 1964 as a proving ground for innovative, experimental, and interdisciplinary curricula and courses. By far, the most successful component of the Ex College is EPIIC, a year-long program begun in 1985 to immerse students in a global issue which culminates in an annual symposium of scholars and experts from the field.

Culture and student life


The Tufts school mascot is Jumbo the elephant, in honor of a major donation from circus owner P.T. Barnum in 1882. While Barnum gave the skeleton of the animal to the American Museum of Natural History, the stuffed remains of Jumbo were put on display in the basement of Barnum Hall until the building burned down in 1974. The alleged ashes of Jumbo currently reside in a peanut butter jar in the athletic director's office. A large plaster-statue elephant, Jumbo II, now sits on the academic quad. The Tufts mascot is the only school mascot listed in Webster's dictionary.

Student Organizations

The Tufts Community Union funds a number of student groups, and some 150 are recognized by the university. The Leonard Carmichael Society, an umbrella organization for community and public service projects, is the largest student group at Tufts, comprising a volunteer corps of over 1,000 and a staff of eighty-five.


  • A fixture on the Medford campus is a replica of a cannon taken from the deck of the USS Constitution, donated to the university by the city of Medford in 1956. Since 1977, it has been used by student groups and individual students who paint advertisements, political statements, birthday greetings, and other messages on the cannon under the cover of night. Painting the cannon is a competitive activity; students must guard their handiwork or risk of having their message painted over by a rival group before dawn.
  • The Naked Quad Run takes place just before fall finals, where several hundred students unwind by stripping and running circuit around the Rez Quad. Most students run naked, but some wear costumes such as capes or shrink wrap.
  • A concert known as Spring Fling takes place in the spring semester immediately before final exams on the President's Lawn; acts over the past several years have included the Dropkick Murphys, The Roots, T.I., and Tufts alumni Guster.
  • The night before Spring Fling, the Tuftonia's Day fireworks take place on the Rez Quad.
  • The Tufts Mountain Club famously "pumpkins" the campus on the night before Halloween, placing pumpkins in prominent and increasingly absurd locations such as atop buildings and statues. Although the ritual is over 75 years old, the TMC has never officially taken credit for it.
  • It is said that two people who kiss under Bowen Gate will one day marry.


Tufts is a member of the Division III National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), which includes Amherst, Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, Connecticut College, Hamilton, Middlebury, Trinity, Williams, and Wesleyan. Tufts does not offer athletic scholarships. Men's and women's squash and coed and women's sailing are the only Division I sports at the school. The sailing team won the 2001 Intercollegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) Dinghy National Championship and won more championships in the 1990s than any other team. Men's Squash maintains a top 20 Division I national ranking.

The Tufts football program is one of the oldest in the country. The 1,000th game in team history was played during the 2006 season. Historians point to a Tufts versus Harvard game in 1875 as the first game of College Football between two American colleges using American football rules.

In 1943, the Boston Red Sox used the Tufts athletic facilities during spring training due to gasoline rationing limiting the team's travel.

Art Galleries

The Tufts University Art Gallery, consisting of five exhibition spaces (The Tisch Family Gallery, Koppelman Gallery, Harry Remis Sculpture Court, Slater Concourse Gallery, and the New Media Wall), holds exhibitions of global perspectives on art and art discourse.


Tufts University is a signatory to, and originator of the Talloires Declaration, an international campus sustainability agreement. In 1999, the university pledged to meet or beat Kyoto Protocol targets and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 7% below 1990 levels by 2012. Tufts was also the first university to join the Chicago Climate Exchange.Because of its efforts in areas like climate change, energy efficiency, local food, and recycling, Tufts received a “B+” grade from the Sustainable Endowments Institute on its 2008 college sustainability report card.

Campus media and publications

  • Tufts Daily, the daily student newspaper and the most prominent source of news for the last two decades; the Daily is notable for its financial independence, receiving no funding from the student activities fee.
  • Tufts Observer, a weekly newsmagazine and the oldest student organization on campus, having been founded in 1895 as the university's first student newspaper.
  • The Primary Source, a journal of conservative thought.
  • Zamboni, a humor and satire magazine.
  • Tufts Traveler, a travel journal founded in 2005.
  • WMFO (91.5 FM Medford) is freeform radio operated by students and community volunteers since 1970; the station broadcasts 365 days a year and operates out of Curtis Hall.
  • TUTV, the campus television station, operated by Tufts students in partnership with the Ex College.
  • JumboCast, a student-run broadcast group that specializes in streaming Tufts events live over the internet via webcast.
  • Hemispheres, since 1976 one of the few undergraduate journals dedicated to international relations in the United States.
  • Public Journal, an alternative literary magazine, founded in 2005, which focuses on publishing found literature.
  • Outbreath, a literary magazine which publishes short stories, poems, one-act plays, and photography.
  • Melisma, a journal of independent music and culture founded in 2004.
  • Tuftscope, an interdisciplinary journal of health, ethics, and policy founded in 2001.

Notable alumni and faculty

Tufts alumni hold prominent positions in government, media, business and academic disciplines. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Today Show host Meredith Vieira, Oscar-winner William Hurt, Pfizer CEO Jeff Kindler, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, New York Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon count Tufts as their alma mater.

Notable Tufts faculty include philosopher Daniel C. Dennett, noted psychologist and former American Psychological Association president Robert Sternberg, noted linguist Ray Jackendoff, biologist Barry Trimmer, Nobel Prize recipient Allan M. Cormack (1924 – 1998) and retired Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Martin J. Sherwin.

Tufts references in popular culture

Tufts alumni in the media have been known to write characters as students of Tufts or a thinly-veiled substitute, such as the title characters of Two Guys and a Girl and the lead character of Christopher Golden's Body of Evidence mystery novels. Fictional doctors who cite Tufts School of Medicine as their alma mater include the title character on Crossing Jordan and Dr. Jennifer Melfi on The Sopranos. Elaine Benes from Seinfeld claims that she attended Tufts, calling it her "safety school," a common Tufts stereotype in the 1980s.

In addition, because of both the school's suburban ambience and proximity to Boston, it has been used as a filming location to represent a New England liberal arts college. Footage of the campus has appeared in Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, The Next Karate Kid, and the 1968 film Charly.


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