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Getting A Foot In The Door

Getting A Foot In The DoorAn innovative approach by Tufts is giving the university an edge in recruiting new faculty. Medford/Somerville, Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [09.08.03] When the Hillside School Apartments opened just beyond Tufts' Medford/Somerville campus this summer, they did more than just breathe new life into the 75-year-old school. The newly renovated complex also gave Tufts an important edge in the highly competitive faculty recruitment process.

"By opening a new, reduced-rent apartment complex, Tufts also opened a new front in a constant struggle for Boston area colleges: How to attract young professors into one of the most expensive housing markets in North America," reported The Boston Globe.

Awad Halabi - a professor in Middle Eastern history - was one of those young professors.

"When Halabi was offered a teaching job at Tufts this fall, there were lots of reasons to accept: a strong department, a picturesque campus and a nearby city rich in culture and intellectual life," reported the Globe. "And then Tufts offered a benefit unmatched by many other colleges: a subsidized apartment in a new building full of professors."

For the 36-year-old, who needed to relocate from Toronto to take the position at Tufts, the apartment made the transition to Boston easier.

"The biggest hassle is trying to find a new place, and to have them accommodate us this way is great," Halabi told the Globe. "If you have a choice between two or three universities, and one can promise you a nice apartment at the lower end of the market, it makes it that much more attractive."

The trend is beginning to spread across the Boston area, where housing costs have sky rocketed.

According to the Globe, homes around the University's Medford/Somerville campus cost an average of $323,000 while the median price for apartments tops $250,000. But rents at the Hillside complex, which features 1-3 bedroom units, are extremely competitive.

"The rates were set just below market levels, factoring in the apartments' new condition and prime location, and using as a baseline rental listings from Tufts' office of off-campus housing," reported the Globe.

Still in its early stages, the program is "helping to create the kind of community that's best for our students," said Tufts' Wayne Bouchard, executive administrative dean for arts and sciences.

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