Dean Alastair Cribb welcomed the former deans of Cummings School back to campus with a ceremony featuring a series of portraits now hanging throughout campus to commemorate the deans’ roles over the past four decades in building Cummings School into a premier veterinary institution.
“Cummings School has a rich history, and it was rewarding to be able to acknowledge the contributions of all the living deans, as well as Dr. Loew and Dr. Jonas,” said Dean Cribb. “Everyone who has been a part of Cummings—students, staff, and faculty— have contributed to making this a special place, but it was a pleasure to acknowledge those who have taken on the challenge of leading the school.”
The ceremony took place on the Agnes Varis Campus Center lawn on the sunny afternoon of October 18 with the leaves in full fall colors. With no visitors allowed on campus due to Covid, only faculty, staff, and students could attend.
Despite the restrictions, a jovial atmosphere marked this special occasion. Dean Phillip Kosch rolled up in his RV, stopping by on his cross-country travels. Dean Sawkat Answer strolled over with Dean Kosch’s terrier. The deans were all smiles as they caught up, a few meeting one another for the first time.
“It is not very often that you are able to bring together such a large group of deans from one school,” said Dean Cribb.
(Photo courtesy of Paul Rutherford for Tufts University)
Six portraits of the five previous deans and former Tufts University President Jean Mayer were on display. Dean Cribbs spoke to the crowd about Cummings’ School’s storied history and where their portraits hang to mark their impact on the school.
President Mayer first announced plans to open the school in 1976, when no veterinary school existed in New England. (Cummings School remains the only one.) President Mayer’s portrait hangs in the main lobby of his namesake administration building.
The founding dean, Dr. Albert M. Jonas, served from 1978-82. According to Dean Cribb, “He got the farm up and running again, and started converting existing buildings into teaching and office space.” Dean Jonas established Tufts Veterinary Field Service, Tufts Wildlife Clinic, and the Hospital for Large Animals, where his portrait can be found in the main lobby reception area.
Under Dean Franklin M. Loew’s stewardship from 1982-95, the Henry and Lois Foster Hospital for Small Animals and the Center for Animals and Public Policy opened. “He was the one who really put [Cummings School] on the map as a nationally recognized institution,” said Dean Cribb. He went on to quote Dean Loew, “In the early days…doubters were everywhere, and critics were harsh. When asked how I slept at night, I replied, ‘Like a baby. Sleep for an hour, cry for an hour, sleep for an hour, cry for an hour.’” Dean Loew’s portrait hangs in the main lobby of the Franklin Loew Education Center.
Dean M. Sawkat Anwer, interim dean in 1996 and again from 2005-06, launched the Pet Loss Support Hotline. The main lobby of the Jean Mayer Administration Building hosts his portrait.
During his busy tenure from 1996-2005, Dean Phillip C. Kosch oversaw the openings of the David J. McGrath III Veterinary Teaching Laboratory, the Bernice Barbour Wildlife Medicine Building, and the Luke and Lily Lerner Spay/Neuter Clinic, in addition to the $50M donation from the Cummings Foundation, naming the school. The main lobby of the McGrath Building houses his portrait.
Cummings School continued to flourish under Dean Deborah T. Kochevar’s leadership from 2006-18, with the openings of the Agnes Varis Campus Center and Auditorium, the New England Regional Biosafety Laboratory, the Equine Sports Medicine Complex, and the Department of Infectious Disease and Global Health. Her portrait hangs in the Agnes Varis Campus Center in the upper-level lobby lecture hall.
Interim Dean Joyce S. Knoll, who served from 2018-19, opened the Cummings School Faculty Lounge, a longtime need for the school. Her portrait hangs in the Dean’s Conference Room of the administration building.
As Dean Cribb wrapped up his speech, Dean Kochevar chimed in, “Thank you to Alastair…A very short time after he came on…COVID hit, and he’s done an amazing job getting the school through that.”
Dean Cribb quipped, “When people ask how long I’ve been here, I say, ‘Six months and one pandemic.’”
All of the portraits are available to view in their new locations. Future portraits of Cummings deans will hang in the Dean’s Conference Room in the Jean Mayer Administration Building.