Rob Hollister to Leave Tisch College in 2011
By News Staff
The founding dean has led active citizenship efforts for a decade
Without Rob Hollister, the concept of active citizenship at Tufts would have remained just that—a lofty idea. But he has done more than identify the need for universities to take a leading role in educating generations of socially conscious and active individuals. He made it a reality as the founding dean of Tufts’ Tisch College, and has taken it to a global level as the founder of the Talloires Network.
Now after a decade at the helm, Hollister will step down as dean of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service in June 2011.
He will return to the faculty of the School of Arts and Sciences in 2012, after a year-long sabbatical spent at the Tufts European Center in Talloires, France, and in other international travel and research to foster a global commitment to educating active citizens among the world’s universities.
“My decade as Tisch dean has been a truly meaningful experience, and the highlight of my career,” said Hollister, the Pierre and Pamela Omidyar Professor. “It is time to let someone else take the reins of the college and time for me to continue my work. I am eager to resume teaching and to devote more time to supporting the global movement of civic engagement in higher education.”
The mission of Tisch College has come to life, he said, with active citizenship infused across the Tufts University curriculum, and students and alumni taking pride in becoming citizen engineers, citizen physicians, citizen humanists and citizen businesspeople.
“Tufts has always embraced a vision of active citizenship. Rob Hollister has been the catalyst in transforming how we put that vision into practice,” said Tufts President Lawrence S. Bacow. “He has played a unique and indispensible role in making Tisch College central to Tufts, and he has helped establish a new model for engaged universities around the world.”
Hollister described the philosophy that has defined his life’s work in a 2006 Boston Globe op-ed article: “An especially important realm of our citizenry’s ‘hidden’ idealism is in the minds and hearts of young people,” he wrote. “But their innate idealism is huge, and as a society we continue to underestimate their burning desire to make a positive difference with their lives.”
Civic education, Hollister said, is about the myriad ways in which people learn the values and skills that enable them to participate in public decision-making and community life.
“Active citizenship is about investing our personal time and energy in working for change, not leaving it to elected representatives or someone else. It’s about each of us sharing responsibility for everybody’s well-being,” Hollister wrote.
In expressing their appreciation for Hollister’s work, the Tufts trustees Deborah Jospin, J80, and Jonathan Tisch, A76, founding members of the Tisch College Board of Advocates, wrote, “Under Rob’s committed and passionate leadership, the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service has grown exponentially and today is a national leader in civic education whose model and research are setting the standard for higher education’s role in civic engagement.”
Hollister’s reach extends beyond Tufts. In 2005 he co-founded the Talloires Network, a global coalition of 180 universities in 60 countries working to strengthen their civic engagement missions.
“We believe that higher education institutions do not exist in isolation from society, nor from the communities in which they are located,” the coalition’s first report stated. “The Talloires Network envisions universities around the world as a vibrant and dynamic force in their societies, incorporating civic engagement and community service into their research and teaching mission.”
Hollister previously served as founding chair of Tufts’ Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, as director of the Lincoln Filene Center for Citizenship and Public Affairs and as dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
A specialist in the leadership and management of nonprofits and in citizen participation in public affairs, he is co-author of The Engaged University and Development Politics, and co-editor and contributing author of Governing, Leading and Managing Nonprofit Organizations; Cities of the Mind; Neighborhood Policy and Planning; and Neighborhood Health Centers.