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April Update from Tisch College

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Read the April issue of our monthly bulletin, featuring updates about our response to COVID-19 and how we're adapting programs and events.

Dear friends,

We hope you all are safe and well. We are thinking of you and your families, especially those who continue to serve our communities as healthcare workers, first responders, essential employees, and public officials. 

I am reaching out today, in place of our usual April Tisch Bulletin, to share some important developments with you. Below you will find updates on the University’s continued response to the COVID-19 crisis and Tisch College’s role, opportunities for you to help us celebrate the Class of 2020, and several important program updates. 

Response to the COVID-19 Crisis

Tufts University continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are considering all aspects of academic continuity and the health and safety of our students, staff and faculty, while also working to support our local communities’ response efforts. To stay up-to-date on the University’s multifaceted effort, I refer you to this site, as well as this recent Tufts Now piece on a Virtual Town Hall meeting that President Monaco convened with faculty and staff.

As I mentioned in my previous update, Tisch College is supporting our community response by convening and managing virtual groups to train and deploy volunteers via our Tufts Civic Impact platform. I am pleased to tell you that Tufts alumni, Tufts parents, and other Tufts affiliates may now join these virtual volunteer groups, and we hope you will. You can learn more about how to join here and via this video tutorial. There are a dozen different virtual volunteer opportunities posted already and many active volunteers from the Tufts community. 
We continue to transition our work to a virtual environment. On Thursday, April 30, we premiered our first virtual Civic Life Lunch with U.S. Congresswoman Katherine Clark and Massachusetts State Representative Jon Santiago, MD, MPH. The discussion focused on the state and federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can watch it in full here.

Our research continues apace, as well. Earlier this month, CIRCLE Director Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg and Director of Impact Abby Kiesa published a piece in The Conversation on “How to reach young voters when they’re stuck at home.” Here in the Commonwealth, our newly formed Center for State Policy Analysis (cSPA) published a new report on what will be required to expand adequate testing and tracing in Massachusetts to combat COVID-19.

Celebrating Our Students

It’s an especially bittersweet time to bid farewell and congratulations to the Class of 2020, and we want to make sure that they enjoy the Jumbo send-off they deserve. This month, President Monaco announced that, in addition to virtual degree conferral ceremonies that will be held next month, in-person Commencement activities will take place at a later date when it is safe to do so. We’ll keep you updated on these developments.

Until we can all come together to celebrate the Class of 2020, please join me in a Tufts initiative to collect short congratulatory videos from students, parents, alumni, faculty, staff, community partners, and friends of the Tufts community in order to create a video wall of well wishes for our graduates. I invite you to record a short, 10-15 second video congratulating a graduating student—or the entire graduating class—and submit it following the instructions here: When you submit your video, you can “tag” one or more schools; make sure you tag Tisch College!
Tisch College is also excited to honor students who have excelled in their civic lives. We inducted more than 150 graduating students from all across the University into Honos Civicus, our unique honors society for civic engagement. We also joined President Monaco to recognize 21 Tufts students with the Tufts Presidential Award for Civic Life, the university’s highest honor for leadership and social impact. We are preparing video tributes to all of these students, and we will share more in the coming weeks.

Lastly, I want to congratulate another exceptional Tufts and Tisch College student, Lidya Woldeyesus, who was recently named a Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellow. This fellowship recognizes and supports students who are changemakers and problem-solvers at Campus Compact member institutions, and Lidya certainly fits the bill. A Tisch Scholar and Tisch Summer Fellow, Lidya is also one of the leaders of JumboVote, which helps ensure that Tufts students will be informed, registered, and ready to vote in every election.

Program Updates

In light of the pandemic, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our First-Year Global Programs, Tufts 1+4 and the Tufts Civic Semester, for 2020-2021. The health and safety of our students, partner agency staff, host families, and communities is our first priority and guided our decision-making. We look forward to offering these programs again for the 2021-2022 academic year.

At the same time, we are currently exploring potential opportunities for civic learning experiences for Tufts students for this summer and fall, and we will be in touch with all students and their families as these opportunities are developed. Where possible, we continue to move our programs online. We will be offering our pre-college program for high school students, Leadership for Social Change, in a virtual environment this summer; you can learn more about that here. And we will continue to offer Virtual Civic Life Lunches, including next week with the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Run for Something, Amanda Litman.

We're also adapting our popular Tisch Summer Fellows program, which over the past 15 years has provided substantive internships in the government, nonprofit, and social entrepreneurship sectors to nearly a thousand Jumbos, along with programming to deepen the experience. This summer, Fellows will be remotely engaged in many of our previously planned internships, and we will be offering fellowships for students to virtually support COVID-19 response efforts.

Alumni participation is an integral component of this program. We invite all interested alumni to virtually support Fellows this summer by serving as alumni mentors. Mentors provide support and advice in one-on-one virtual meetings a few times over the summer program term and help students explore career options and build their networks. To the best of our ability, matches are made between alumni mentors and students with similar interests.

If you're interested in being a virtual mentor, fill out this short form and let us know by May 15.

As always, we appreciate your civic engagement and your support. Please keep in touch with us via email and social media, and please keep each other well.

Alan Solomont
Dean of Tisch College