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Catching Up With President Bacow

Catching Up With President BacowWith his morning runs evolving into a campus tradition, Tufts President Lawrence S. Bacow is grateful for the chance to stay in shape – and stay in touch.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [06.03.05] As president of Tufts University, Lawrence S. Bacow's schedule is tight. But a few times a week at 6:30 a.m., you can find him – and a handful of assorted students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni or friends – pounding the pavement of the streets of Medford and Somerville on one of his now-traditional morning runs. The runs, Bacow says, not only keep him fit, but keep him accessible.

"I like to talk when I run," Bacow told the Chronicle of Higher Education. "Very quickly we stop being president and student, president and parent, and president and faculty member. We're all just runners."

The tradition began in 2001, when Bacow became president and began asking faculty and staff members to join him for his morning jog in order to continue their discussions from previous days.

In 2003, after offering an open invitation for members of the University community to join him, a rotating cast of sneaker-clad Jumbos began showing up at his front door in the morning.

"It's sort of taken on a little life of its own," Bacow observed to the Chronicle.

The runs have also served as training sessions for the Tufts President's Marathon Challenge. In 2003, the first team ran 40 strong in Boston's annual marathon, raising $250,000 for fitness initiatives on campus.This past spring, the team numbered nearly 200, running to raise money for research on nutrition, health and wellness.

The setting – devoid of desks, suits or telephones – facilitates a candor that Bacow finds valuable for allowing discussion of "issues which are much harder to talk about in other venues."

Bacow says it's good for the University community to see the president "doing the things normal people do." One Tufts student who has joined Bacow for his morning runs agrees.

"I think the most surprising thing for me was how accessible he was and how down to earth he was," sophomore Angela Lee – a member of the marathon team this past April – told the Chronicle. "It's fun to run with the person who runs the school."

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