Light on the Hill, Volume II
THE INTERNATIONAL FLAVOR which Mayer brought to the Tufts campus in 1976 was enhanced by the acquisition of a tenth-century Benedictine priory in the village of Talloires in the French Alps. The priory was the gift of Donald R. and Charlotte MacJannet, who had acquired the medieval structure in 1958 and had partially restored and modernized it. MacJannet was a Tufts alumnus and former assistant to President Leonard Carmichael in the 1940s. The historic building was to be used as a center for undergraduate summer
|courses for credit and as an "intellectual center" where scholars and students, largely from Europe and the United States, and representing all disciplines and professions, could meet each summer for discussion of vital issues.|
The priory was formally accepted by Mayer on behalf of Tufts in ceremonies held in May 1979. Honorary doctoral degrees were awarded to three eminent Europeans: Henry Leir, Charles Merieux, and Collette Flesch (an alumna of the Fletcher School), and to Donald MacJannet. Charlotte MacJannet was awarded an honorary master's degree. The priory was immediately designated as the Center for European Studies, and in the first summer of Tufts occupancy, under the directorship of Seymour Simches, the program included three-week-long undergraduate programs in French language and culture and a course for French and Swiss students dealing with American language and culture, a two-week seminar on eurythmics, a seminar on agriculture, and orientation sessions for students enrolled in the Tufts-in-Paris program. The Talloires priory became an information center and periodic reunion headquarters for Tufts alumni, including those from the Fletcher School stationed in Europe, as well as the locale of numerous programs with an international clientele. Typical were the conferences on nutrition and aging held in May 1980 which included some of the world's most renowned biological scientists.
In the summer of 1985 a total of sixteen conferences on a wide variety of topics were held in the Center. Eighteen academic programs were presented to seventy-three students. Because it had rapidly become "a gathering place for citizens of all nations," the name was changed in 1981 to the "Tufts University European Center." Mary vanBibber Harris, former assistant dean at the Fletcher School, succeeded Simches as director in 1982.
Tufts' international contacts and visibility were extended even further when the institution awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to Queen Sirikit of Thailand at a special ceremony in March 1980. In July 1984 President Mayer traveled to Bangkok, Thailand, for a meeting of the International Association of University Presidents. During the meeting he presented an honorary Doctorate of Laws to His Majesty Bhumibal Aduyadej, King of Thailand. In the fall of 1985 the president visited Japan, where he was given an honorary degree and in turn presented an honorary degree from Tufts to the president and founder of Tokai University, Shigeyoshi Matsumae.
Among the numerous technical assistance and exchange programs on which Tufts had embarked by the mid-1980s, the largest
|international project was in Africa, developed in 1984. The university negotiated a five-year, $17 million contract cosponsored and financed jointly by the United States Agency for International Development (AID) and the government of Niger, involving the design and implementation of a comprehensive livestock development program. The institution seemed to be well on its way to becoming literally a "world-class university," at least in the geographical sense.|