MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. (June 13, 2013) — Alan D. Solomont, U.S. ambassador to Spain and Andorra, social activist and entrepreneur, will become the Pierre and Pamela Omidyar Dean of Tufts University's Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service effective January 2, 2014. Solomont is a Tufts alumnus and trustee emeritus and the founding board chair of Tisch College.
As the dean of Tisch College, Solomont will lead the first university-wide enterprise of its kind. Tisch College by design does not enroll students or grant degrees. Rather, it works directly with students and faculty across all of Tufts' undergraduate, graduate and professional schools to instill an entrepreneurial approach to civic engagement.
Before Solomont's posting to Madrid in 2010, President Obama tapped him to chair the bipartisan board of directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that oversees such domestic service programs as AmeriCorps, Learn and Serve America, VISTA and Senior Corps. President Clinton originally appointed Solomont to the CNCS board in 2000 and President George W. Bush reappointed him in 2007.
Like President Obama, as a young man Solomont worked as a community organizer, in the city of Lowell, Mass. Throughout his career he has embraced the notion that partnerships between the private and public sectors can benefit society, noting in a blog for the Huffington Post that "The ancient Greeks used the agora, a public space serving civic and commercial purposes, to strengthen their democracy."
He spent his professional career in the health and elder-care arenas, building a network of elder-care facilities in New England; investing in early-stage health-care companies; founding HouseWorks, a home-care company for seniors; and serving as a managing director of Angel Healthcare Investors.
"Alan Solomont's commitment to active engagement in the world around him, his belief in the power of higher education and his strengths as a diplomat, entrepreneur and social activist will enable him to work with faculty, students, staff, alumni and friends to advance Tisch College from its highly successful formative years to a future as the unquestioned international academic leader in promoting active citizenship and civic engagement," said David Harris, Tufts University provost and senior vice president, in announcing the appointment.
Solomont graduated from Tufts in 1970 with a B.A. in political science and urban studies and made his first trip to Spain on a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship for postgraduate study and travel abroad.
Over the years, he has remained deeply involved in Tufts. As a Tisch College senior fellow and visiting instructor, he taught an undergraduate political science seminar on the American presidency, a course known for the political luminaries and leaders he attracted to campus. Solomont served as co-chair of the university’s $1.2 billion Beyond Boundaries campaign until his appointment as ambassador to Spain and Andorra. He is a member of the Tufts alumni council.
"For me, returning to Tufts as the dean of Tisch College is coming home—to an institution I love and that has meant so much to me and my family," said Solomont, whose wife, Susan, earned an M.Ed. from Tufts in 1981; their daughter Becca received a B.A. in child development in 2008. "I am excited to lead one of Tufts’ signature initiatives and to apply my passion for active citizenship and civic engagement to build on Tisch’s solid foundation and to propel it to new heights."
Solomont was the founding chair of the Tisch College board of advisors. The inaugural Alan D. Solomont Lecture was endowed by his friends and colleagues in recognition of his service to the college and leadership as an active citizen. U.S. Rep. and former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi delivered the inaugural lecture in 2011 as part of Tisch College's 10-year anniversary celebration, and Solomont himself was selected to deliver the second lecture, in April 2013.
Solomont has served on the boards of directors for nonprofit and for-profit organizations including Boston Medical Center, Boston Private Bank & Trust Co., Angel Healthcare Investors, the University of Lowell, the University of Massachusetts, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library Foundation, the WGBH Educational Foundation, the New Israel Fund and Israel Policy Forum. He also chaired the boards of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston and Hebrew Senior Life.
A long-time leader in the Democratic Party, Solomont served as the party's national finance chair from 1997 to 1998.
Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service is now in its second decade. When it was established in 2000, with seed funding from eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife, Pamela, both graduates of Tufts, it broke new ground as the University College of Citizenship and Public Service. Many universities had created special schools or programs focused on public service, but Tufts' approach was to break down barriers among schools to infuse education for active citizenship throughout the entire institution. A $40 million gift from Jonathan M. Tisch in 2006 endowed the college, which now bears his name.
Solomont will succeed Nancy Wilson, who is leading the college as interim dean after founding Dean Rob Hollister stepped down in June 2011.
Tufts University, located on three Massachusetts campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville, and Grafton, and in Talloires, France, is recognized among the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of innovative teaching and research initiatives span all Tufts campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate and professional programs across the university's schools is widely encouraged.