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V.    Proposals For Community Discussion

   

    B.        Evaluating Proposals

 

This report sets out a number of initiatives for the Tufts community's consideration.  As we begin the discussion, we would like to emphasize four points.  First, the three proposals above are our initial efforts to respond to problems or opportunities that we have identified.  They are not cast in stone and we ask you to approach them with an open mind.  If a particular initiative does not appear workable or sensible, please so indicate.  At the same time, however, indicate how the idea can be improved or how the underlying problem or opportunity can better be addressed.  Put differently, we view this is as an "interim" report designed to help move us towards consensus on a set of proposals emerging from a community discussion.

 

Second, we have tried to be mindful of the resources required as we bring about change.  We have identified three key resource constraints that have influenced our thinking as we developed proposals: financial, spatial, and temporal constraints.  Our financial constraints are obvious.  Our endowment lags considerably behind our peer institutions.  It is 80 percent of Georgetown's endowment, roughly 40 percent of Brown's endowment, and less than one-quarter Dartmouth's endowment.  We are unable to provide adequate financial resources to our current faculty in the form of salaries, opportunities for funded research leaves, and sufficient research support to match our expectations for faculty scholarship.    Our spatial constraints also affect our possibilities for change.  The Medford/Somerville campus is tightly hemmed in by residential neighborhoods.  The opportunities for expansion - either internally or beyond our current boundaries   are quite limited.  Constraints on time were repeatedly raised by faculty who expressed a concern about additional responsibilities given current teaching, advising, and scholarship expectations.  It is clearly unreasonable to place additional responsibilities on our current faculty unless we can construct creative ways to offload some of their current burdens.  Our approach has been to offload low value-added responsibilities to provide time for high value-added responsibilities.  An example of a low value-added responsibility is faculty time spent helping a student find a curriculum regulation or requirement in the Tufts Bulletin while a high value-added responsibility is time spent with a student who is struggling to see connections between two seemingly unrelated intellectual concepts.

 

Third, we ask readers to bear in mind that some proposals represent a substantive change to the culture of Tufts one that may or may not be attractive to current students.  We have tried to address the concerns that we have heard from faculty, staff and students over the last year of outreach.  As the details and mechanisms of these proposals are defined, it is inevitable that some outcomes will be seen as a narrowing of choices.  Wherever possible, we have tried to avoid restricting choices except in cases where we felt that the benefits of a proposal clearly exceeded the costs.  We encourage readers to evaluate the proposals not in terms of how the proposals affect current students, but rather of how they will affect future Tufts students attracted to the university after the changes are implemented.

 

Fourth, as we evaluated ideas we have asked ourselves how they contribute to the educational goals embodied in our definition of a Tufts education.  Given our inability to do everything, we have tried to prioritize in terms of cost and effectiveness.  We have also tried to identify a mix of ideas from low-cost initiatives that Tufts can immediately implement to initiatives that are aspirational and will require time and money to bring about.  If at the end of the process we only put forward proposals that will require many years and many millions of dollars, then we would risk losing momentum and enthusiasm as we slogged towards a distant goal.  If, on the other hand, we only put forward quick and easy proposals that require a minimum of time, effort, or resources, then we would have set our sights too low.  As elsewhere in life, balance is everything.

 

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