Landmark philanthropy

Cummings Foundation to invest $50 million in veterinary school

Cummings Foundation Inc. has committed to investing $50 million in Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine over the next 15 years—the largest gift in the history of the university and among the largest donations ever made to a U.S. veterinary school. It also ranks among the largest gifts ever to a Massachusetts college or university.


From left, Tufts President Lawrence S. Bacow, William S. Cummings, A58, president of Cummings Foundation, and Dr. Philip C. Kosch, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine. © Richard Howard

In recognition of the gift, the school will be renamed the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in a ceremony to be held in spring 2005.

“Tufts is enormously grateful to Cummings Foundation for this extraordinary gift,” Tufts President Lawrence S. Bacow said. “One measure of a just society is how well it takes care of those who cannot take care of themselves. People who devote their lives to animals are among the most caring and unselfish among us. The Cummings Foundation gift appropriately recognizes their selfless commitment.”

“The mission of Cummings Foundation is to invest in organizations that make contributions to our society,” said William S. Cummings, A58, president of the foundation. “We were moved to recommend this commitment due to the practical, entrepreneurial spirit of Tufts University in general and Tufts veterinary school in particular. This collaboration will help to provide the resources necessary for the school to sustain its vision. We are honored to support this world-class institution of higher learning,” he said.

“This gift will help fund needed capital improvements, provide matching funds in support of major research proposals and greatly strengthen the educational and clinical mission of the school,” Dean Philip C. Kosch said. “I cannot thank Cummings Foundation enough for its vote of confidence in the faculty, staff and students who make Tufts veterinary school the special place that it is.”

Cummings is the founder of Cummings Properties, LLC, which operates eight million square feet of office, laboratory and research space in eastern Massachusetts, which it leases to 1,700 tenants. He is an alumnus and a trustee emeritus of Tufts. He also was an overseer to Tufts School of Medicine.

In 1998, his 40th reunion, Cummings received the Distinguished Service Award, the highest honor of the Tufts University Alumni Association. He chose the occasion to endow the Cummings Family Chair in Entrepreneurship and Business Economics at Tufts. “Tufts was an excellent experience that definitely helped me and prepared me for the business world,” he said at the time. “I paid my own tuition through Tufts, but I have always felt a major sense of obligation, which is why I have given to the university every year since graduation.” Cummings said he focused his endowment on entrepreneurship “because I wanted to establish something that helps students develop the skills that are necessary to run a business and to assist people who seek to own their own business.”

Also in 1998, he was named Real Estate Entrepreneur of the Year for New England by Ernst & Young. Cummings was the founder and publisher of three community newspapers in Woburn, Stoneham and Winchester, and has been involved in many philanthropic activities, including serving as a director of the Woburn Boys and Girls Club for 25 years.

The School of Veterinary Medicine was founded 26 years ago in partnership with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Each year, half of the seats in the entering class are reserved for Massachusetts residents, who receive a tuition discount. Tufts raised 100 percent of the capital necessary to build the veterinary school and its three hospitals on surplus state land in North Grafton, Mass. The hospitals treat more than 28,000 animals each year. The school receives annual operating support from Massachusetts, producing one of the most successful public/private higher education partnerships in the nation.