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Tufts Provost Announces Plans To Step Down

Tufts Provost Announces Plans To Step DownOne of Tufts' most beloved professors, Sol Gittleman will focus on two of the things he enjoys best - teaching and baseball.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [10.28.01] This may be one for the record books. Tufts University's Provost and Senior Vice President Sol Gittleman - quite likely the longest-serving chief academic officer at a university in this country - announced today that he's asked University President Lawrence S. Bacow to begin a national search for his replacement.

For 21 years, Gittleman has served three University Presidents, written more than 4,000 recommendation letters for Tufts students and graduates, won two Fulbrights, earned the Danforth Foundation's Harbison Prize for outstanding teaching and received two honorary doctorate degrees in humane letters.

He also has been designated "Professor of the Year" by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

Respected by his faculty and beloved by Tufts' students, their parents and alumni around the world, Gittleman will serve in his current post until his replacement is named in the coming months.

He also will continue to teach at Tufts after he steps down from his senior leadership post.

"The last two decades as Provost have been extremely rewarding and invigorating," Gittleman said from his office, which is crammed with books. "But at this stage in my career, I'm ready to continue teaching here, spend more time with my grandchildren, visit some of the retro baseball parks and maybe write another book."

For 37 years - throughout his years as Provost -- Gittleman has hustled across Tufts' campus here, books tucked under his arm, on his way to teach classes. His career class roster has included: German language, German civilization and the rise of Nazism, American studies, and the migration of East European Jewish literature to America.

This past year, the card-carrying member of the Society for American Baseball Research also began teaching a freshman writing class that's focused on baseball--"as a metaphor for American social history," he said, reflecting his lifelong passion for the sport and scholarship.

"Teaching baseball's place in American history is exciting," Gittleman explained. "The events of the 20th Century - immigration, race relations, antitrust business practices, corruption, the two World Wars, urban history and demographic movements of Americans-all become clearer when viewed through the prism of the National Pastime. Jackie Robinson should not be ancient history; what he accomplished a half century ago is just as important today as it was then."

The Hoboken, N.J. native began his academic career at Drew University where, as a first-year student, he wanted to major in baseball and play shortstop.

Two exceptional professors who taught Latin, Greek and German there, however, reshaped his thinking--and his career. (One of them, incidentally, coached varsity baseball.)

After graduating from Drew with high praise from his professors, he later earned a master's degree from Columbia University in comparative literature and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

His first academic assignment (1962) came as assistant professor of German at Mount Holyoke College. Two years later, he joined Tufts - and stayed.

"As Tufts begins to celebrate its 150th anniversary this year, I feel particularly privileged to have served at a time when the faculty, student body and those who help administer this University have made an enormous impact on the quality of the academic enterprise," Gittleman said. "We've never been in a stronger position, and we have a new President who fully appreciates Tufts and its people."

President Bacow noted Gittleman's many contributions to Tufts: "Sol is the heart and soul of this university. For generations of students their Tufts education has not been complete until they took a course from him. During his 21 years as Provost Sol has never lost his enthusiasm, his patience, or his sense of humor. He has always personified all that is great about Tufts: a passion for students, a commitment to the scholarly enterprise, and a deep seeded concern for people. Like students and young faculty before me, I have found him to be a wonderful mentor. He is a true mensch, an expression that all those who have taken Sol's course in Yiddish Literature will understand. He may be stepping down as Provost but he will continue play an important role in the life of Tufts."

And Nathan Gantcher, chairman of Tufts' Board of Trustees, underscored the importance of Gittleman's continuing role in the Tufts community.

"Sol has been - and will continue to be - an important and popular Tufts link with students long after they graduate. As Provost, he's played a major role in building our academic and research strengths, and we're fortunate he'll also continue to be an outstanding teacher here as well."

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