Transformative philanthropy

$15 million Jaharis gift will strengthen medical school community

The largest gift in the history of Tufts University School of Medicine, a $15 million contribution from the Jaharis Family Foundation, will transform medical education and the quality of life among medical students by creating a long-awaited campus center and a new clinical skills and simulation facility and providing much-needed financial assistance for students.

Steven Jaharis, M87, with his father, Michael Jaharis © MARK OSTOW

Steven Jaharis, a 1987 graduate of Tufts School of Medicine, and his father, Michael Jaharis, have several objectives in making their generous gift. First, they want to improve medical school facilities and the sense of community for students. And by providing capital upfront, they intend to achieve this quickly—the campus center is scheduled to open by spring 2009. In addition, their philanthropy will provide more scholarship support for Tufts medical students through a matching gift mechanism.

To ensure that all phases of the project can be completed at once, Tufts University will contribute $5 million of its own money toward the campus center and medical education facilities. Tufts has also committed to raise an additional $7.5 million so that a portion of the Jaharis money can be released for more scholarships once the construction projects are complete.

The campus center and additional learning spaces will be located in the Arthur M. Sackler Center for Health Communications at 145 Harrison Ave. on the Boston campus. The clinical skills and medical simulation center will be just around the corner, at 35 Kneeland St.

The vision for the project includes the creation of “learning communities,” offering quiet study corners, lounges and small-group classrooms; a simulation lab where med students can practice physical exams on mannequins programmed to talk or feign a heart attack, and a “Main Street,” four stories up, connecting Tufts-New England Medical Center to café to library.

“This will completely change the student experience here,” said Marsha Semuels, executive administrative dean at the medical school. “The aim is to reinforce a sense of community.”

Dr. Amy Kuhlik, dean of students, said: “The campus center will offer our students a true home base. Many of our students commute each day from quite a distance. Now they will have a place to study, eat and congregate with each other. The outstanding design will provide great opportunities for interacting with faculty and fostering important mentoring relationships.”

An enlarged café inside the Hirsh Health Sciences Library will provide space where faculty, staff and students can mingle. © DIMELLA SHAFFER

Noted for generosity
The gift is the latest from the Jaharis Family Foundation to transform Tufts’ health sciences campus. The family earlier provided the naming gift for the Jaharis Family Center on Harrison Avenue that opened in 2002.

Steven Jaharis, a member of the Board of Overseers to the medical and Sackler schools, championed support for this latest project. “I can say from experience that Tufts University School of Medicine is already a student-friendly place, distinguished by the closeness between faculty and students,” he said. “This project will enhance that sense of community at Tufts and make the student experience even better.”

Michael Jaharis, founder and former chairman emeritus of Kos Pharmaceuticals Inc., is noted for his generosity to science, medicine and the preservation of antiquities. As chairman of the Board of Overseers for the medical and Sackler schools and a Tufts trustee emeritus, Michael Jaharis has been a passionate advocate for Tufts and for widening the university’s sphere of influence in the global arena.

“Steven Jaharis possesses a strong desire to be helpful, a passionate imagination and a deeply felt need to translate passion into action,” said Tufts University President Lawrence S. Bacow. “To those who know his father, it will be clear that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Once again, the Jaharis family has made a transformative investment in Tufts University School of Medicine. We could not ask for better, more loyal or more generous friends.”

Dean Michael Rosenblatt said, “The medical school is known for its student-centered approach to education. The new campus center will meld state-of-the-art educational facilities with new approaches and technologies for medical education, while at the same time enhancing the quality of student life.” He pointed out that all these gains answer needs identified in the school’s strategic plan.

Reflecting the heightened emphasis on physical diagnosis skills in current medical education, Tufts will create a new clinical skills center in which students will receive hands-on training with standardized patients and simulators. © DIMELLA SHAFFER

Dean Semuels said: “We do a really good job with our students. They feel a sense of community.” Yet the only place medical students currently have to gather and study is the Hirsh Health Sciences Library on the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh floors of the Sackler Center, she said. “The library serves dental and nutrition students, as well, and with its café on the fourth floor, can be noisy. Students must go to the seventh floor to find quiet study areas. With this project, our students will have places to call their own.”

The Jaharis gift will enable construction of the campus center and the clinical skills center, said Leslie Kolterman, senior director of development and alumni relations at the medical school. “Additionally, we will seek support from other benefactors for specific facilities within,” she said.

Fitness and simulation
In the Sackler Center, four learning communities are envisioned, with two each on the second and third floors. Each learning community will include space for classrooms and quiet study, a common study lounge and lockers. Students will be able to migrate between communities for study and classes.

The new campus center will include an expanded café, glassed off from the library to keep out noise, and spaces for student activities. The walkway from Tufts-New England Medical Center to the café to the library to the activity lounge will be a “Main Street” on the fourth floor. A fitness center will be located in the basement, where current info-tech offices will be transformed into exercise space. Student services and administrative offices will be consolidated on the eighth floor.

The first phase of the project was under way this summer, with books being moved from the library in the Sackler building to a new compact shelving facility across the street in the Jaharis Center. Seventy percent of the stacks in the Sackler building are to be removed, freeing up study space.

Meanwhile, architectural plans are being completed for another phase of the project, the creation of the clinical skills and medical simulation center at 35 Kneeland St. in 7,500 square feet of space previously used by Tufts-New England Medical Center for info-tech offices.

The Sackler Center on Harrison Avenue will gain a canopy and enhanced signage at street level. © DIMELLA SHAFFER

The new facility will serve first- and second-year students learning physical diagnosis and other clinical skills in preparation for their rotations in the third and fourth years. The center will include physical exam rooms where students do exams on live “patients,” played by actors, and three simulation rooms where exams will be done on computerized mannequins.

The clinical skills and medical simulation center is expected to be completed by early 2008, enabling next year’s students to have some time in it.

Mark Sullivan is a senior writer for Advancement Communications. He can be reached at This story appeared in the September 2007 Tufts Journal.