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June 1, 2021

Dear members of the Tufts community,

We are pleased to announce that Yolanda Smith, an accomplished criminal justice leader, will become Tufts University’s next executive director of public safety, effective July 1, following a national search that attracted more than 100 professionals from across the country. In her role here at Tufts, Yolanda will lead the university’s emergency management, fire safety, threat assessment and management, emergency medical services, and police functions.

Yolanda is currently special sheriff and superintendent of the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, where she serves as the chief of staff for a public safety agency with more than 1,000 employees and correctional facilities housing on average 1,400 individuals.

Yolanda joined the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department in 1995, as a corrections officer, and advanced to increasingly senior positions. In collaboration with other staff and community partners, Yolanda introduced gender-specific training and services for women, the first LGBTQI support group, and programs to help young offenders earn high school and college degrees and learn trades. Other innovations included weekly visits to housing units to listen to resident concerns, and the creation of a less-threatening uniform for some personnel so that those in custody were not always in exchanges with fully uniformed officers. Following the killing of George Floyd, she created spaces for those in custody to express themselves in “open circles” and through poetry and art—an approach that has become a model for others.

As you know, Yolanda’s appointment comes at a time of a national reckoning on race and equity, and under President Monaco’s leadership, Tufts is committed to becoming an anti-racist institution. An immediate priority for Yolanda and her team will be implementing the recommendations of the Working Group on Campus Safety and Policing. These recommendations include increased transparency, greater community engagement, increasing the use of non-sworn personnel for routine services, and enhancing our ability to respond to matters involving mental health.

We would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the university-wide search committee, which included students, faculty, and staff from all of our campuses. Through the hard work of the search committee—and all those who contributed to this search—we have found in Yolanda a leader whose unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion, collaborative leadership, and thoughtful innovation distinguished her in an exceptionally strong pool of candidates.

We would also like to thank Interim Director Chip Coletta, the Tufts Public Safety team, and the Tufts University Police Department, all of whom have performed well in the face of unprecedented challenges over the past year. Their professionalism will be an important foundation as we move forward, and we’re grateful for their service to our community.

 

Sincerely,

Mike Howard
Executive Vice President

Barb Stein
Vice President for Operations

 

May 14, 2020

Dear colleagues,

As President Monaco shared in his email this morning, we are now developing plans to repopulate our campuses, starting with gradual expansion of services at our veterinary and dental clinics and the first phase of our on-campus research ramp up. I recognize that this increased activity raises questions about returning to work on our campuses, and I hope this email and subsequent communications will help address these questions.

As we develop our plans, we are fortunate that President Monaco is a member of the group of higher education leaders advising the governor on a framework to reopen colleges and universities in Massachusetts. And while the governor’s plan to gradually ease restrictions across the Commonwealth after May 18 is an important milestone, our decisions on how and when to resume operations at the university will be based on a timeline that is appropriate for our various schools and divisions.

Though our timeline is still being developed, I can state with certainty that our community will not be returning to on-campus work all at once. As we gradually open clinics, labs, residence halls, dining facilities, libraries, and classrooms over the next several months, the number of staff required on campus will grow steadily to support those operations. At this time, however, unless you are already working on campus as directed by your school or division leaders, you should continue to work remotely.

For some members of our community, a return to campus will be a relief and an important step toward a new normal. For others it may raise concerns about health and safety. And for yet others, it has the potential to heighten challenges posed by personal situations—such as childcare, elder care, and individual health issues—that have emerged or taken on new importance during the pandemic. In our planning efforts, we are doing our best to be respectful and responsive to all these perspectives.

Before you are asked to return to campus, your supervisor will clearly communicate with you about new safety guidelines that we will devise and put in place, including: social distancing; guidance on meeting sizes; health surveillance; and sanitization and cleaning procedures. In addition, we are producing a Return to Work guide that will provide instructions to maximize health safety when we do come back to the workplace. As you can imagine, a successful return will require a shared effort, and I thank you in advance for your willingness to work with us as we move forward.

The repopulation of our campuses will be a complex operation. I ask for your patience as we figure out the details, both large and small. Please be assured that in all our conversations and all our decisions, reducing the risk to our campus community is our utmost priority. Throughout this crisis, I have been inspired by the work of our staff. You have remained undaunted despite the challenges and obstacles the pandemic has placed in your path. Now that we are taking the first steps to repopulate our campuses, I look forward to moving forward together.

Sincerely,

Mike Howard