Sunday, August 31, 2014

Tufts’ Next President

By News Staff

Anthony P. Monaco, a pioneering geneticist and senior administrator at Oxford, is named by the Board of Trustees the university’s 13th president

Anthony P. Monaco

President-elect Anthony P. Monaco. Photo: Alonso Nichols

Anthony P. Monaco, M.D., Ph.D., pro-vice-chancellor for planning and resources at the University of Oxford and a distinguished neuroscientist who identified the first gene specifically involved in human speech and language, has been named Tufts University’s 13th president by the institution’s board of trustees. He will succeed President Lawrence S. Bacow next summer. Bacow announced in February that he would step down in 2011 after serving as president for a decade.

“Anthony Monaco is a pioneering life scientist with a record of exceptional accomplishment as a university leader, biomedical researcher and teacher,” said James A. Stern, E72, chairman of the Board of Trustees. “He is superbly qualified to succeed President Lawrence S. Bacow, who has done so much to advance Tufts during the past 10 years. Tony will bring to the presidency of Tufts deeply held commitments to academic excellence, diversity, a global perspective and the university’s central role in society.”

As Oxford’s pro-vice-chancellor for planning and resources since 2007, Monaco developed the strategy for academic, capital and student-enrollment planning; senior academic appointments; and budgeting and resource allocation for an international institution that includes 38 colleges. A native of Wilmington, Delaware, Monaco has worked to broaden access to Oxford, create and fund interdisciplinary research initiatives and secure additional support for the humanities.

“I have the greatest admiration for Tony, both as a fellow scientist and a fellow university administrator,” said Andrew Hamilton, vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford. “His research is world-leading, and in his role as pro-vice-chancellor for planning and resources, he has led the way on some of the most challenging issues faced by this or any other U.K. university. We will be very sorry to see him leave, but it is always a great pleasure when someone from Oxford goes on to lead another excellent university, and we congratulate Tufts on securing him as president.”

Hear Anthony P. Monaco speak at his introduction as Tufts’ 13th president at the Medford/Somerville, Boston and Grafton campuses on Nov. 30. Photos by Alonso Nichols and Kelvin Ma; slideshow by Taylor McNeil

Before his appointment as pro-vice-chancellor, Monaco served as director of Oxford’s Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, now the largest externally funded, university-based research center in the U.K. Monaco played a leading role in doubling the size of the center, which focuses on identifying the genetic underpinnings of common human diseases.

Monaco’s own research has focused on the genetic basis of disorders such as autism, specific language impairment and dyslexia.

“Tony Monaco was among the first to recognize the importance of what was still an emerging research frontier, human genetics, and its vast potential to address problems such as cancer and autism,” said the Nobel Prize-winning biologist Paul Nurse. Now president of Rockefeller University, Nurse headed the microbiology department at Oxford and also worked with Monaco at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. “His accomplishments in the life sciences are indicative of his impressive ability to synthesize information and lead others in collaborative efforts to solve problems,” Nurse added.

President-Elect Lived the American Dream

While Monaco has spent the past 20 years at Oxford, his life in many ways embodies the American Dream. He grew up in modest circumstances in Delaware, the son of a plumber. A first-generation college graduate, Monaco was encouraged by his high school biology teacher and his godfather, a family friend who taught at Rutgers, to aspire to Princeton.

“I was the first student at my high school to ever apply to, let alone attend, an Ivy League college. This was an enormous step,” said Monaco, who created his own undergraduate major, in neuroscience, at Princeton. “Both of my parents instilled a love of learning in all their children, but I wouldn’t have been able to make that leap without incredible mentors and Princeton’s generous financial aid. I’m passionate about increasing access to higher education, and I know that Tufts shares that passion.”

Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman called Monaco “an inspired choice to lead Tufts University. As a world-class scientist and a highly successful university administrator at Oxford, he brings to his new position a deep understanding of what is required to build and sustain a great research university that is dedicated to educating the next generation,” she said.

After graduating from Princeton, Monaco went on to earn his M.D. and Ph.D. at Harvard University. His doctoral research led to his landmark discovery of the gene responsible for X-linked Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy. Monaco’s fascination with genetics took him to the U.K., then the hub of this burgeoning field. He worked on the human genome project at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (now Cancer Research UK) in London and in the human genetics laboratory at the Institute of Molecular Medicine, Oxford.

“I have the same feeling of excitement about Tufts that I had when I was embarking on my first scientific discoveries,” Monaco said. “It is a great honor for me to have been selected as Tufts’ next president, working with such outstanding faculty, staff and students. Tufts’ integrated approach to teaching and research; international perspective; commitment to access, inclusion and active citizenship, and strength in the life sciences are truly extraordinary,” he said.

International Search

Monaco’s selection as president-elect of Tufts is the outcome of an extensive international search. In looking for Tufts’ next president, the search committee considered exceptional candidates from business, public service and nonprofit organizations as well as academia.

“Our committee sought an individual whose values were those of Tufts and who had the leadership skills to keep the university on its strong trajectory. Tony quickly impressed all of us with his understanding of our institutional values and aspirations, as well as his stellar academic and administrative talents,” said Trustee Vice Chair Peter Dolan, A78, who chaired the university-wide search committee. “We’re very grateful for the engagement of the many faculty, students, staff and alumni who were part of this process.”

“Tufts has attracted a president-elect with impeccable academic credentials, from one of the top universities in the world. Equally important, he embodies Tufts’ core values,” said Professor Julian Agyeman, a search committee member and chair of the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning. “One thing that stands out in my mind is his understanding that diversity and inclusion are not simply a challenge but more importantly an unparalleled opportunity to achieve excellence.”

Monaco, 51, is married to Zoia Monaco, Ph.D., who heads a research group at the University of Oxford. Her research area is in cell biology, and the work focuses on understanding the dynamics of cell components. They currently live near Oxford, with their three sons between the ages of 9 and 12.

For more information about President-elect Monaco, go to http://news.tufts.edu/features/presidentelect.

Posted November 30, 2010