Tufts University

Medford MA 02155 

(617) 628-5000

Tufts University

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"Tufts" redirects here. For people named Tufts, see Tufts (surname).
Tufts University
Tufts University seal.png
Latin: Universitas Tuftensis
Former names
Tufts College (1852–1954)
Motto Pax et Lux (Latin)
Motto in English
Peace and Light
Type Private non-profit
Established 1852
Endowment $1.6 billion [1]
President Anthony P. Monaco
Academic staff
Students 10,685[2]
Undergraduates 5,186[2]
Location Medford, Massachusetts, United States
42°24'22?N 71°07'12?W? / ?42.406°N 71.120°W? / 42.406; -71.120Coordinates: 42°24'22?N 71°07'12?W? / ?42.406°N 71.120°W? / 42.406; -71.120
Campus Urban
Colors Brown, Blue          
Athletics NCAA Division IIINESCAC
Nickname Jumbos
Mascot Jumbo the Elephant[3]
Affiliations URA
Tufts University logo.png

Tufts University is a private research university located in Medford, in the U.S. state of Massachusetts. The university is organized into ten schools,[5] including two undergraduate programs and eight graduate divisions, on four campuses in Massachusetts and the French Alps. The university emphasizes active citizenship and public service in all of its disciplines[6] and is known for its internationalism and study abroad programs.[7] Among its schools is the United States' oldest graduate school of international relations, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Tufts College was founded in 1852 by Christian Universalists who worked for years to open a non-sectarian institution of higher learning.[8] 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." For more than a century, Tufts was a small New England liberal arts college. The French-American nutritionist and former professor at the Harvard School of Public Health Jean Mayer became president of Tufts in the late 1970s and, through a series of rapid acquisitions, transformed the school into an internationally renowned research university.[9] It consistently ranks among the nation's top schools.


19th century

Tufts College, c. 1854

In the 1840s, the Universalist church wanted to open a college in New England, and in 1852, Charles Tufts donated 20 acres to the church to help them achieve this goal. Charles Tufts had inherited the land, a barren hill which was one of the highest points in the Boston area, called Walnut Hill, and when asked by a family member what he intended to do with the land, he said "I will put a light on it." His 20-acre donation (then valued at $20,000) is still at the heart of Tufts' now 150 acre campus, straddling Somerville and Medford. It was also in 1852 that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts chartered Tufts College, noting the college should promote "virtue and piety and learning in such of the languages and liberal and useful arts as shall be recommended." Having been one of the biggest influences in the establishment of the College, Hosea Ballou II became the first president in 1853, and College Hall, the first building on campus, was completed the following year. That building now bears Ballou's name.[10] The campus opened in August 1854. The divinity school was organized in 1867.[11]

Being more than 160 years old, Tufts is the third oldest college in the Boston area.[12]

P. T. Barnum was one of the earliest benefactors of Tufts College, and the Barnum Museum of Natural History was constructed in 1884 with funds donated by him to house his collection of animal specimens and the stuffed hide of Jumbo the elephant, who would become the university's mascot. The building stood until April 14, 1975, when fire gutted Barnum Hall, destroying the entire collection.

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 the same meeting, the trustees voted to create a graduate school faculty and to offer the Ph.D. degree in biology and chemistry.

20th century

Walnut Hill as it appeared prior to the construction of Tisch Library and steps, circa 1910. The road to the right no longer exists.

Tufts expanded in the 1933 with the opening of the Fletcher School of Law a