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The Art Lover An artist celebrates her bonds with birds, beasts and Tufts in a sculpture for the new Foster Hospital

From the President

Our Community of Creators When the first students arrived at Tufts, not “a map or drawing, or even a blackboard, adorned the bare walls” of the new college. But early photos show that painted, printed and sculpted portraits soon graced the college chapel, and the arts have been woven into the life of the university ever since. Their flourishing represents one measure of the promise and the progress of this institution. ALONSO NICHOLS

The most recent piece in the Tufts collection, The Animal Lover—depicted on the cover of this issue of Blueprint—was a gift from Massachusetts artist Merrilyn Delano Marsh to mark the dedication this spring of the renovated and expanded Henry and Lois Foster Hospital for Small Animals on the campus of Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. This bronze sculpture draws on one of the artist’s favorite themes—our special relationship with the animals in our lives. It is especially fitting that it is placed near the new entrance to the Foster Hospital, where stories about the human-animal bond play out every day. The Animal Lover also reflects our community’s celebration of art and artistic expression. We seek to make art accessible and approachable so that all of us can share and revel in the experience. Many of the 2,000 pieces in the Tufts Permanent Art Collection—portraits, landscapes, photographs, paintings, prints and sculpture—are not confined to a gallery. Their presence on campus invites us to pause and reflect as we walk to the next class or meeting, or enjoy a moment of repose in the midst of the day. As we end the first academic year since the School of the Museum of Fine Arts became part of Tufts, we see boundless opportunities for the ON THE COVER: THE ANIMAL LOVER, BY MERRILYN DELANO MARSH; PHOTO BY ANNA MILLER

arts to further enhance the life of our university community. Our faculty, students and alumni create art, knowledge and discoveries that enrich our world. The generous donors profiled in these pages are creators, too. By funding scholarships, faculty development funds, fellowships, seminars and symposia, they create opportunities for our students and our faculty to continue to do things that inspire us every day and brighten the world in which we live.

ANTHONY P. MONACO President, Tufts University

Chairman, Board of Trustees Peter Dolan, A78, A08P President Anthony P. Monaco

Provost & Senior Vice President David R. Harris Senior Vice President for University Advancement Eric Johnson

University Relations Tufts University, 80 George St. Medford, MA 02155 USA 617.627.3200 n

Published by Tufts Editorial Group. Monica Jimenez, editor; Margot Grisar, design director; Betsy Hayes, designer.

Blueprint is published three times a year for alumni, parents and friends who generously support Tufts University as donors and volunteers.


“Professor Tsutsumi and other members of the faculty made the university come alive,” said Jim Flaws, E71, here with his wife, Marcia Weber, J71.


A Legacy of Rigor Engineering alum establishes faculty development fund to honor an influential professor. BY JOANNE BARKER


IKE MUCH OF the rest of the country in the early 1970s, Tufts was in flux when Jim Flaws, E71, came to campus to study engineering. Professors still wore ties to class, while outside, students protested the Vietnam War. A new era of student empowerment was dawning, though few people recognized it at the time. “History rarely looks like history when you’re living through it,” Flaws said. With the benefit of hindsight, Flaws said he came to appreciate what he learned from one professor in particular, Kentaro Tsutsumi, a structural engineer who taught at Tufts from 1963 through 1986. Tsutsumi, who died in 2003, had a reputation as a taskmaster. “He is a legend,” said Jianmin Qu, dean of the School of Engineering, who has heard his share of colorful stories about Tsutsumi. “They’ve painted a picture of a hard-nosed professor who made his students’ lives miserable.” Flaws was one of them. “Professor Tsutsumi would not tolerate shoddy work, but you could learn a great deal from him,” he said. “He required you to have rigor in your thinking and data to back up your work. Those are two things I have carried with me in business.” This tough-minded professor was such an influence that Flaws has made a significant contribution to the Professor Kentaro Tsutsumi Faculty Development Fund to support the development of other faculty who can shape the lives of their students. Outside of academia, Tsutsumi is known as the inventor of the Type T (for Tsutsumi) isolation pier, a platform designed for space launches that isolates movement to a millionth of an inch. “The earth’s a shaky place,” Tsutsumi said in a 1988 interview. “If you launch a space capsule that’s one part per million off course, you’ll end up a quarter mile off target on the moon.” Tsutsumi may have had a reputation as challenging teacher, but he was also an innovator in the classroom. He considered engineering an art form—he introduced

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his students to the poetry of Omar Khayyam, the Persian mathematician, and had them do a structural analysis of a Picasso painting. When Flaws arrived at Tufts, he thought he would be a traditional engineer like his father, David Flaws, E37. But the job market had changed, and companies were looking for engineers with business skills. “I thought an M.B.A. would give me a chance to broaden my horizons,” he said. After working for a Boston-based engineering firm the summer after he graduated from Tufts, he enrolled in Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. After completing his M.B.A., he landed a job at Corning, known at the time for its heat-resistant bakeware and color television bulbs. Over the next four decades, including 17 years as the company’s CFO, Flaws saw Corning through periods of exponential growth and economic downturns. Corning built the fiber-optics market from the ground up and commanded 40 percent of that market worldwide by the late 1990s. After the telecommunications industry crashed in 2001, Flaws was part of the team that led Corning through a difficult but successful retrenchment. By the time he retired in 2015, Corning had come back, reporting $9.8 billion in sales that year. Through the highs and lows, Flaws said 3 the lessons he learned at Tufts, particularly from Tsutsumi, helped guide his decisions. “Engineering gives you a way to think about things. It helped that I had a technical background, but more than that, I had a background

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The Art of Loving Animals

in analytical problem solving and never forgot the importance of backing up my thinking with data.”


Sculptor Merrilyn Marsh draws her inspiration from the special relationship with the creatures in our lives. BY KIM THURLER


HE ANIMAL LOVER, the bronze sculpture that stands outside the new

entrance to the Henry and Lois Foster Hospital for Small Animals, aptly describes its creator, Merrilyn Delano Marsh. The piece is 40 inches tall and depicts a woman standing with a cat perched on her shoulders and surrounded by other animals. It’s autobiographical, said Marsh, a 1947 graduate of Boston’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts who went on to study in Paris. “I had a cat, and when I took it to the vet for the first time, I carried it in my arms. I didn’t realize that you usually take a cat in a carrier,” she said. “There was a big German shepherd in the waiting room. My cat took one look and climbed right up around my neck. That hurt!” Marsh donated the sculpture to Cummings School. Her son, George Marsh Jr., is a principal at Payette, the architectural firm for the $10 million project to renovate and expand the 30-year-old hospital. The Animal Lover is the second bronze cast from a black walnut statue that Marsh carved in 1985. A green patina makes the piece quite distinctive from the first casting, which stands in the cloister garden of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church



Flaws got the idea to honor Tsutsumi with a contribution to his faculty development fund after Qu invited him to speak at his first commencement as dean in 2016; Kurt Pennell, professor and chair of civil and environmental engineering, later approached him about making a donation in memory of his old mentor. “Professor Tsutsumi and other members of the faculty made the university come alive,” said Flaws, a member of the board of advisors to the School of Engineering. “When you can do something to help develop professors like him, generations of students will benefit.” The fund continues a history of Tufts philanthropy by Flaws and his family. His father, David, donated regularly to the School of Engineering, and his aunt, Mary Nelson, J40, made multiple gifts to the Jackson College Fund. Flaws and his wife, Marcia Weber, J71 (they met their senior year at Tufts), have established endowed scholarships for students in their respective schools. Weber, executive director of the planning and economic development agency Southern Tier Central, created a scholarship to support Arts and Sciences students, particularly those majoring in child development. “Tufts played a very important part in forming our foundation in becoming adults,” Flaws said. “We feel very strongly about our experiences there and want to make Tufts accessible to future generations of students.” Having the means to support the development of great professors enables the School of Engineering to attract and retain firstclass teachers and mentors, Qu said. “A great research university like Tufts has to have great faculty,” said Qu, who became dean in August 2015, the same month Flaws retired from Corning. “So many of our alumni say their professors continue to influence them long after they graduate.” Flaws and Weber hope other alumni will follow their lead. In his 2016 commencement speech, Flaws told the graduates, “If you enjoyed your time at Tufts, you were benefiting from people who gave to the college. As you move out into your careers, remember this experience and consider giving back.”  n

Merrilyn Marsh, who continues to sculpt and paint, donated her bronze sculpture The Animal Lover (shown on the cover) to celebrate the expansion of the Foster Hospital at Cummings School.

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in Wellesley, Massachusetts. The relationships between people and animals have influenced Marsh’s work since she was invited to show her drawings, paintings and clay animals at a community art exhibit at age 11. “I’d like people to look at this piece at the Foster Hospital and feel the same love for animals,” she said. Her home is filled with art—chiseled woods, clay, oils and watercolors—and it has a working studio with a small kiln and portfolios filled with paintings. At age 93, she continues to sculpt and paint. In her living room, The Riding Lesson, carved in African mahogany, recalls the times when she and her mother rode horses owned by family friends. Another mahogany piece, Calming Pegasus, shows nearly life-size human and equine heads touching side by side. In Girl with the Butterfly, a clay model ultimately cast in bronze, a child gazes in fascination at a butterfly resting on a flower. Because sculpture depicts the world in three dimensions, it has always been Marsh’s favorite medium, but, she added, painting is more practical. “It’s harder to transport sculptures, and of course wood can’t be displayed long-term outdoors because the weather will damage it. Bronze is enduring, but it’s heavy and usually cost-prohibitive.” Marsh’s Tufts roots run deep. She made bronze portraits of the iconic athletic directors Clarence “Pop” Houston (1962), for the undergraduate student dormitory Houston Hall, and Rocco “Rocky” Carzo, for the dedication of the Carzo Cage in Cousens Gymnasium in 2002. Her bronze bas-reliefs, installed at the university’s Ellis Oval athletic fields in 2001, celebrate the women and men who compete in varsity sports at Tufts. Her late husband, George Estabrook Marsh Sr., a Pop Houston protégé, earned his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Tufts in 1940. George Marsh Sr. was a second cousin of Houston’s wife, Marion Ricker Houston, whose family founded the Poland Springs resort and water company in Maine. George landed at Tufts because of Pop Houston—he received a scholarship and lived in the Houstons’ home while earning his degree. George and Merrilyn later established a scholarship at Tufts in Houston’s honor. Merrilyn Marsh said she’s pleased that

Merrilyn Marsh at home, surrounded by some of the animals she has carved. At left, the tools she uses to create them.

“I’d like people to look at this piece at the Foster Hospital and feel the same love for animals.”

her alma mater, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, became part of Tufts’ School of Arts and Sciences last summer. “I think it means more opportunities for the SMFA and its students,” she said. The Animal Lover is the second bronze on the Grafton campus created by an artist devoted to animals and who studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. Amelia Peabody’s statue of a horse, titled Bucks–The Perfect Hunter, is on display in the firstfloor hallway in Cummings School’s main administration building. The Amelia Peabody

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Charitable Fund, which she established in 1974 to direct her philanthropy, has been a longtime benefactor of the school, including making a $2.5 million challenge gift for the small animal hospital renovation project. Art has been part of Foster Hospital since it was built. Public art pioneer William Wainwright’s kinetic sculpture Tree of Opals—5 the leaves are reflective cubes that perpetually change color—has stood on the hill in front of the hospital since 1986, a gift from the family and friends of hospital benefactors Henry and Lois Foster.  n

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Alex Kazerani, A95, and his wife, Moujan, have established a scholarship that encourages recipients to grow the fund by donating what they can and when they can.

“If it works, it might be the best financial aid structure for students ever.”

Arts & Sciences

Shooting for the Moon Alex Kazerani, A95, knows how valuable a little financial aid can be for a bright mind. BY JULIE FLAHERTY

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LEX KAZERANI, A95, is an inventive entrepreneur with a track record of successful ventures. So it’s no surprise that he wanted to do more than fund a scholarship in the traditional way. Instead, he has created a whole new route for alumni to support Tufts students. With a $300,000 donation, Kazerani and his wife, Moujan, an attorney, have established a pay-it-forward scholarship fund that will not only help the neediest students, but encourage recipients to give back to the fund. While the main goal is to help students through college now, Kazerani hopes that in the long run, the fund will continue to grow and help even more students through contributions from those who benefit from it. “We want to create a model where we can help students today, when they need it the most, and encourage them to give back when they are able, growing the fund and allowing more qualified students to take advantage of a great education at Tufts,” he said. The Kazerani Pay-It-Forward Scholarship Fund will ask recipients to contribute what they can, when they can. “I love the honor system,” Kazerani said. “I like the respect, trust and responsibility that come with it.” Like all financial aid at Tufts, the Kazerani scholarship is based on need. He is hoping to help the neediest students, such as those from single-parent households or those who are homeless or wards of the state. He’s also interested in assisting students who are active in volunteerism. Kazerani knows what it’s like to get a helping hand when you need it most. Born in Iran and raised in France and the United States, he saw times when his family was wealthy, and times when they had little. At one point, his parents had a serious talk with him about whether they could afford to keep him at Tufts. Determined to stay, he took

on two jobs, including delivering pizza. After graduation, as he struggled to get his first business off the ground, he rejoiced when his sister, who needed a ride to the airport, handed him $20 for gas. “Guys, we can eat tonight!” he announced to his roommates, knowing that if they limited themselves to half a burger each, they would be able to eat for a few days. Later, his parents were able to lend him $6,000 for his startup. “That made a world of difference,” he said. Kazerani went on to found, run and sell a handful of technology businesses. The most recent, EdgeCast Networks, a leading content delivery network, was sold to Verizon in 2013. He and his wife have used some of the proceeds to contribute to several charities, but Tufts—“among the best years of my life,” Kazerani said—has a special place in his heart. He made lasting friendships at the International House and through his fraternity. His friend Phil Goldsmith, A95 (one of those burger-sharing roommates), would go on to be a business partner in all his corporate ventures, and Jumbo classmate Jeff Stibel, A95, was on the EdgeCast board of directors. If the scholarship program is successful, Kazerani hopes it will be a step toward addressing the issue of college affordability. “If it works, it might be the best financial aid structure for students ever,” he said, sounding every bit the visionary. “Let’s shoot for the moon and see how far we get.”  n


Empowering Women, Educating Men New Fletcher School program enlists all genders to shatter the glass ceiling. BY DIVYA AMLADI


URING HER 40-YEAR career, Virginia “Ginny” Cornyn, F63, was

“It’s a missed opportunity for all of us if we’re not getting women to a place where they are contributing at their full potential,” said Virginia “Ginny” Cornyn.

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often the only woman in the room. And then there were the times when she wasn’t even welcome in the room. In the early ’90s, when Cornyn was head of information technology on a project at a major corporation, other members of the leadership team would hold informal gatherings to make decisions. “Sometimes, I would not find out about these meetings,” she said. “The discrimination was so subtle that it made you think you might be paranoid.” Cornyn was accustomed to being in the minority. Her graduating class at Fletcher had fewer than 20 percent women, and resources to support them were scant. Today women make up about half of each incoming class—and they still face different hurdles than their male peers. That’s why Cornyn decided to fund the creation of the Leadership, Equality and Diversity (LEADS) certificate program, a pilot designed to encourage equality through a series of workshops and a mentoring initiative over the next four years.

The interactive workshops aim to empower Fletcher women and educate the entire Fletcher community about topics such as salary and benefits negotiation, public speaking, sexual harassment, and diversity. Students who attend all seven workshops will earn a certificate. “Women in foreign affairs and in business are really hitting a glass ceiling, and in a number of different fields, harassment and discrimination are ways to keep women out of power,” said Dyan Mazurana, an associate research professor at Fletcher who is co-director of the LEADS program. “Coming out of Fletcher, these are issues women are going to face and men are going to see, so we have to train students to stand strong against discrimination and stop it from happening.” The program started last fall with a workshop on how to get paid fairly, led by former Massachusetts lieutenant governor Evelyn Murphy, who went on to found the nonprofit WAGE Project, which seeks to end wage discrimination against American women. Murphy told participants that women with advanced degrees earn an average of $1 million to $2 million less over their lifetimes than their male counterparts. The workshops are open to all Fletcher students. “If you don’t bring men into the conversation, and only women know about the gender wage gap, it doesn’t amplify change as much as it would to share findings and strategies with a broader population,” said doctoral candidate Phoebe Donnelly, F13, who co-directs the program with Mazurana. The early reviews are promising. Students say they’ve applied the skills they developed through LEADS to speak up more in class and engage in job negotiations. This fall, LEADS will launch a mentorship program that will help students get interviews and internships, make contacts, and secure recommendations for jobs and promotions—the kind of help that research shows men usually receive more often, Mazurana said. The program is recruiting both female and male Fletcher graduates as mentors. Cornyn is funding two cycles of LEADS, each to last two years. “It’s a missed opportunity for all of us if we’re not getting women to a place where they are contributing at their full potential,” she said. “That’s something LEADS recognizes—that we’re all in this together, and we all need to be successful.”  n



Citizenship by Example Students tuned in during a tough election, thanks to a seminar sponsored by a longtime civic engagement champion. BY MONICA JIMENEZ IKE MANY OF her peers, Allison Aaronson, A17, was tempted to check out as

the 2016 presidential election unfolded, calling the process “heartbreaking.” But her professor—former NBC chief White House correspondent and Meet the Press moderator and current CNN political commentator David Gregory—urged her not to. To help his students make sense out of a chaotic political season, Gregory brought in guest speakers to his weekly seminar, Race for the White House in the Modern Media Environment. Undergraduates enrolled in the Tisch College seminar got to hear the real-time scoop from the likes of David Axelrod, the chief strategist for both of Barack Obama’s campaigns, and political advisor David Gergen, who served in the Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton administrations. “The ability to have intimate conversations with major influencers is a oncein-a-lifetime experience,” said Aaronson, an international relations major. Carol R. Goldberg, J55, a member of the board of advisors to Tisch College, brought Gregory to campus last fall as a professor of the practice to teach the seminar with $50,000 in support from the Carol R. Goldberg Fund for Active Citizenship. The class focused on get-out-the-vote efforts, polling and electoral strategy, social media, advertising, and press coverage during the always-on news cycle. “Coming to class every week meant that we did not have the option of disengaging from politics,” Aaronson said. “Instead, we remained committed to creating meaning and action out of political events.” The seminar reinforced the importance of staying engaged in politics, taking responsibility for our civic lives and getting involved, said Justin Corben, A17, also an IR major. “This class changed my perspective on what it means to be an active citizen,” he said. “We

ended each class by asking ourselves as citizens, what is our responsibility?” Julie Dobrow, co-director of Tufts’ Film and Media Studies Program, worked with Gregory to design the seminar. They often ended up throwing out much of what they’d planned for a given class because things happened so quickly. “I have to say that it was fantastic to know that we had the support to be able to do this, to be able to be so responsive to a shifting situation and bring in new guests or have different materials available for students on short notice,” she said. “This amazing course would not have happened without the support of the Goldberg family and their belief in the importance of this kind of experiential learning for Tufts students,” Dobrow said. Goldberg, president and CEO of the consulting firm The AVCAR Group Ltd., which she founded in 1990 with her husband, Avram, and her family have supported other Tufts civic engagement initiatives through the Carol R. Goldberg Fund for Active Citizenship, includ-

Network newsman David Gregory moderates a panel on the media’s role in the 2016 election.


8 The papers of the legendary journalist Edward R. Murrow are housed at Tufts. Gregory peruses them with Murrow’s son, Casey, left, and university archivist Dan Santamaria.

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Stanley N. Gershoff broke the mold when he hired faculty from many disciplines to improve human health.


ing the Tufts 1+4 Bridge Year Service Learning Program, as well as Tisch College. “Tisch College has provided inspiration and involvement for me over many years to reinforce my belief in civic engagement— it works,” Goldberg said. She said she learned the importance of being involved in community as a young working mother in the flower department of the Stop & Shop supermarket on Memorial Drive in Cambridge. Her father, Sidney Rabb, along with her grandfather and a great uncle, had bought the company, then called Economy Grocery Stores, from another great uncle in 1917. “I was raised to believe that ultimately, the purpose of being in business is to build a strong community,” Goldberg said. For her father, “being in business was about being successful for himself, for the people in the company and for the community around him.” A graduate of Harvard’s Advanced Management Program (she was the only woman in a class of 159 men), Goldberg eventually became president and chief operating officer of The Stop & Shop Companies, Inc. She was a founding member of C200, an organization of the world’s top female entrepreneurs and corporate leaders, and chairman of the board of the United Way of Greater Boston and the North Shore. Like her father, who served on the board of Tufts’ Lincoln Filene Center, the precursor to Tisch College, Goldberg has a long history of helping Tufts promote civic engagement. In the 1980s, she launched the Carol R. Goldberg Seminars, partnering with Rob Hollister, founding dean of Tisch College, and the Boston Foundation to address pressing challenges in Greater Boston. Corben said he came out of the class with a new ability to think critically about the media and understand what’s happening behind the scenes in political campaigns. Aaronson felt the same. Despite the results of the election, she said, she walked away from the course with a new sense of community, as well as a set of insights that will serve her for the rest of her life. “I am coming out of the class with a more sophisticated understanding of the modern media environment, invaluable connections, and a heightened sense of responsibility for my civic life,” Aaronson said.  n


The Matchmaker Nutrition school’s first dean was an early supporter of the union of science and policy to improve global health. BY JULIE FLAHERTY STANLEY N. GERSHOFF, the first dean of the nutrition school at Tufts, realized early

on that good science could drive policy decisions to promote human health and well-being. Gershoff, who died on March 22 at age 92, campaigned for the creation of the school, which opened in 1981 and eventually became the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. Chairing a panel at the White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health in 1969, Gershoff saw how research could actually turn into policies that would help people. He came to Tufts from the Harvard School of Public Health, where his lab adjoined that of Jean Mayer, who had run that White House conference. When Mayer became president of Tufts in 1976, he tapped Gershoff to create the Tufts Nutrition Institute in 1977. Four years later, it became a school, with Gershoff as dean. He also worked with Mayer on funding for the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, which opened in 1982 on Tufts’ Boston campus. Elizabeth Cochary Gross, N82, N88, a student in the school’s first class, stayed on for her doctorate and asked Gershoff to be her advisor. “I had such respect for his knowledge of the topic I was to pursue, vitamin B6 and aging,” she said. “He was always ready to help.” Now a Tufts trustee, Cochary Gross went on to create a scholarship program in his honor. “He was so proud to have the Gershoff Scholars named after him,” she said, “and I am glad he met so many of them. I am proud to have initiated the program and even prouder to maintain them in his memory.” After he retired from Tufts in 1996, the school instituted the annual Gershoff Symposium, which focuses on current issues in nutrition science and policy. “The9 overlap of these two areas was so important to Dr. Gershoff,” said Cochary Gross, who recently made another gift to honor her mentor—endowing the Gershoff Symposium. Even in retirement, he continued to attend the symposium. “I am so glad that he was around to experience that,” she said. “He loved discussing nutrition issues and giving the closing comments—there were always plenty of stories.”  n

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From left, Vangel Zissi, Jacqueline Farah, D16, the first recipient of the Zissi scholarship, and Barbara Zissi.


Son of Immigrants Still Paying It Forward Grateful for his own financial aid, alumnus Vangel Zissi established scholarship fund. HEN IT CAME to advocating for her children, Anastasia Zissi


was a strong motivator. She and her husband, Demetre, arrived in Manchester, New Hampshire, in 1920, among the city’s first wave of Albanian immigrants. Life was difficult, and they worked hard to support their two sons and two daughters. Demetre was a fruit salesman, and Anastasia endured deplorable conditions working in the textile mills, both determined to give their children lives of promise. “I learned the importance of hard work and perseverance from my mother,” said Vangel Zissi, D62, DG67, A02P. “She gave us the American Dream.” Although she had little formal schooling, Anastasia saw education as the path to her children’s success. Financial aid and the work ethic learned from his mother got Zissi through the predental program at the University of New Hampshire and Tufts School of Dental Medicine. “It’s because of my mother that I have accomplished all that I have,” said Zissi, a clinical professor of endodontics emeritus. “Unfortunately, she did not live long enough to see her dream for me come to fruition.” To honor his mother’s memory and the sacrifices she made for her family, Zissi and his wife, Barbara, have established the Dr. Vangel and Mrs. Barbara Zissi Endowed Scholarship Fund so that Tufts dental students can pursue their careers without taking on onerous debt. Their gift was doubled through Tufts’ Financial Aid Initiative. The first Zissi Scholar, Jacqueline Farah, D16, now doing a general practice residency at Montefiore Hospital in New York, has a lot in common with her benefactor. She is the daughter of immigrants from Jordan whose parents also worked hard to support their five children and stressed the importance of education. “I hope one

day I will be able to help other students achieve their goals, just as you have helped me,” Farah wrote in a thank-you letter to the couple. Zissi knows full well the burden of student debt. He started dental school in 1958, still carrying loans from his undergraduate years at UNH. He roomed with three other dental students to cut down on expenses. As a work-study student, he prepared formulas for Tufts’ research labs; he also pulled night shifts as a barback at a local tavern. Summers were spent cubing concrete blocks for a cement company and doing other manual labor. “The worry was always there about how I would make my next tuition payment,” he said. “Dental school was difficult enough, but thinking about the debt was sometimes overwhelming. But you did what you had to do. With financial aid and hard work, I got it done.” After earning his D.M.D., Zissi served in Vietnam with the U.S. Navy. He returned to the School of Dental Medicine to help Arthur Pearson, D39, chair of the predoctoral endodontics program, develop a postgraduate program in the specialty. He was one of its first two graduates. Zissi wanted to stay in Boston, so when he was invited to join the practice Limited to Endodontics, he jumped at the chance. “My partners were the best of the best,” Zissi said. “Cyril Gaum, Al Krakow and Joel Dunsky made me a better endodontist, but more importantly they helped me understand that everyone can make a difference. They led by example with their involvement in organized dentistry, dental education and philanthropy.” Zissi joined the Dental M Club, contributing annually to the Tufts Dental Fund, and signed on to the school’s clinical teaching staff. He’s been involved with the university for more than 50 years now, and Barbara Zissi, his wife of 40 years, calls Tufts “my second family.” Zissi is a former director of continuing education at the dental school and serves as a special adviser to Dean Huw Thomas. But it is his work with students—both undergraduates and the dental students he still mentors in the endodontics clinic two days a week—that clearly brings joy to his life. “They amaze me with their inquisitiveness and their knowledge. They’re exciting to be around. “Helping others is what it’s all about,” he said. “There’s nothing like lending a helping hand and steering someone in the right direction.”  n


Aid for the Next Generation of Scientists Mort and Naomi Rosenberg fund a fellowship for young bioscientists at the Sackler School.


ENTORSHIP IS ENORMOUSLY important in advancing the careers of students in science and medicine. Few can say their mentor created a fellowship to help young bioscientists—and still fewer can say that their mentor is dean of their school. Danish Saleh, an M.D./Ph.D. student in neuroscience at the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, can lay claim to both as the first recipient of the Naomi Rosenberg, Ph.D., and Morton B. Rosenberg, D.M.D., D74, Fellowship. “When I found out my award came from the dean, I thought it was quite serendipitous,” said Saleh, who is studying the mechanisms involved in the body’s inflammatory response to bacterial pathogens. He describes Naomi Rosenberg, who has been dean of the Sackler School since 2004, as “a dynamic and dependable mentor. She is someone I look up to, and to be bestowed this honor in her name is pretty amazing.” Rosenberg and her husband, Mort Rosenberg, D74, a professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery emeritus at Tufts School of Dental Medicine and a professor of anesthesiology at Tufts School of Medicine, established the fellowship.


“We made this gift to demonstrate just how valuable this kind of education is, and to help it go forward,” said Sackler School Dean Naomi Rosenberg, with her husband, Mort, D74.

Spring 2017

N ew s o f G i v i n g , G r ow t h a n d G r ati tude


The Rosenbergs have taught graduate, medical and dental students at Tufts for a combined 80 years. That longevity has made them particularly attuned to students’ challenges and financial burdens. In establishing the fellowship, the couple sought to attract the brightest young biomedical researchers to the Sackler School and to support discovery-based science at a time when federal funding for research is declining. “Educating the next generation of scientists is an expensive proposition for the school,” Naomi Rosenberg said. “This is to help with those costs. But we also made this gift to demonstrate just how valuable this kind of education is.” Saleh was a clear choice as the first Rosenberg Fellow. He is a co-author of a paper about the role of two proteins in cell death and inflammatory gene expression that was published in July 2016 in the highly regarded journal Immunity. “Danish is very motivated as both a physician and a scientist. He’s driven to make his work have an impact,” said Naomi Rosenberg, who will retire this summer. After he was accepted to the Sackler School, Rosenberg was one of the first to get in touch to help him figure out his lab rotations. Naomi Rosenberg has trained 29 Ph.D. students in her lab, and many of them have gone on to positions in academia and the biotechnology sector; one is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, an organization of the nation’s top researchers. “Naomi is totally devoted to enhancing the educational offerings of the school and specifically to mentoring students,” said Mort Rosenberg. It has been immensely gratifying, Naomi Rosenberg said, to watch her students grow into colleagues. “It has been such a privilege to work with students and have this experience,” she said. “I hope others consider the value of making a commitment to this kind of graduate education.” n





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SPRING BUZZ Clockwise from top left: Joyce Sackey, dean for global health at the medical school, congratulates Mahawa Sam, M17, on her residency placement; Annie Le, D18, with a young patient in the clinic the dental school runs at an elementary school; Tufts Marathon Team coach Don Megerle cheers Meg Nero, A17, and Lucy Fell, A17, at the Boston race; Christine Yee, V17, gives Lula a belly rub at the Foster Hospital at Cummings School.

Tufts University Blueprint Spring 2017  

Blueprint is published three times a year for alumni, parents and friends who generously support Tufts University as donors and volunteers.

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