From the monthly archives: May 2012

Following a several-year lucky stretch of consistency in the Admissions staff, the past 12 months have been marked by change, as staff members have gone off to new locations or new positions at Tufts.  And today I’m writing some words of farewell for one more member of the team, Jeff Carbone, whom many applicants may have met on the road or corresponded with throughout the past few years.

When Jeff joined us in July 2009, we knew right away that he was the perfect addition to the office.  He’s one of those people who does his best work when he has the maximum possible amount on his plate.  As a beneficiary of this behavior, I always knew that I could pass off to him a little task that was more than I could handle.  Or, no matter how busy he was, I could convince him to join me in the Hall of Flags to take photos while I wrote the blog.  But I was hardly the only one to benefit.  An Information Session that needed covering?  Jeff would do it.  An extra bit of travel?  His suitcase was packed.

Jeff is unendingly genial, and he formed friendships with each of the different office personalities, bringing us all closer as a consequence.  He honed in on the best way to communicate with each of us and had a special way of creating consensus when we we couldn’t quite decide how to proceed with something.

And most important, he is always happy to participate in a conversation about food.  He enthused about great new recipes and restaurants, often calling his favorites “phenomenal.”  He failed to convince Kristen or me to eat Tofu Scrambler (despite my love of tofu), but not for lack of trying.  “Phenomenal,” he said.  A rare area of disagreement — more often than not, if Jeff was enthusiastic, we were sold.

When I told my family that Jeff was leaving Fletcher, each of them had the same “OH NO!” reaction.  That’s how much I’ve enjoyed working with Jeff — enough that the people who know me best knew right away how disappointed I’d be.

Naturally, I wish Jeff and the fortunate people at MIT’s Sloan School all the best.  And we’ve already exchanged texts about bargain pastries and martinis we each encountered this past weekend.  But, while we’ll still have the opportunity to discuss food or meet for lunch, it’s around the office that I’ll really miss him — he’s simply a super colleague.  I know I speak for all of us as we wish Jeff well, just a little sadly.

 

While I get a grip on some catch-up work that needs to be done today, I’ll point you toward this nice Commencement wrap-up, which includes the texts of the speeches given by graduating students Bilal Baloch and Sebastián Molano, as well as that of Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, who gave the Class Day keynote address.

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An interesting piece of news came out on Tuesday:  Fletcher will be offering a dual MALD-MBA degree with the China Europe International Business School in Shanghai.  Here’s what our press people wrote about it:

MEDFORD, Mass. and SHANGHAI, May 22, 2012—The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University (The Fletcher School) and China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) today announced an agreement to establish a dual-degree program. The new program will enable students from the two world-class graduate degree institutions to pursue complementary studies in international affairs and international business in order to receive both a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy (MALD) from The Fletcher School and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from CEIBS.

As part of the dual-degree program, students will spend 12 consecutive months in residence at CEIBS’ Shanghai Campus and three semesters in residence at The Fletcher School in Medford, MA. The dual-degree program will enable students to earn both a MALD and MBA degree in two and a half years—a full year less than would be required if each degree were sought separately.

“As the demand for graduate study in China continues to grow, we’re delighted to be able to expand our ongoing cooperation with CEIBS, a school that, like Fletcher, attracts a student body characterized by an international mindset and capabilities,” says Fletcher Dean Stephen W. Bosworth. “We’re confident that the dual-degree program will strengthen both of our institutions and will better equip our students to meet the challenges of a complex, interdependent and globalized world.”

CEIBS and The Fletcher School currently offer a successful one-semester student exchange program. The creation of this new dual-degree program further combines the excellence and traditions of the two institutions and will provide students with a broader global perspective that can be applied to opportunities in international corporations, global finance institutions, international economic and development institutions, and government agencies.

“Our partnership with Fletcher on this program is a natural extension of the excellent working relationship between our two institutions over the years,” says CEIBS Dean John A. Quelch. “This is an excellent opportunity for our two schools to develop responsible leaders with the skills, knowledge and resources needed to manage global organizations and public institutions, and to tackle today’s most pressing and complex global problems. The combination of China Depth, Global Breadth, and deep understanding of both business and international affairs will give these students an incomparable edge.”

While enrolled at each respective school, students will be expected to fulfill the appropriate coursework and language requirements (competency in at least two languages). Participants may begin the program at either Fletcher or CEIBS, as each school will accept coursework from the other institution for degree credit. Graduates will have full access to the deep alumni networks and alumni benefits of both schools.

About CEIBS

The China Europe International Business School (www.ceibs.edu) offers a unique combination of China Depth, Global Breadth, taking advantage of its position as a leading business school in Asia to train responsible leaders. CEIBS was the first business school in Mainland China to offer a full-time MBA, an Executive MBA, and a wide array of Executive Development Programs and it is the only Asian business school to have achieved global ranking for all three of these programs.

CEIBS also offers a Part-Time Finance MBA and collaborates with IESE, a leading b-school in Spain, on a Ph.D. Program. There is a main campus in Shanghai, a second campus in Beijing, as well as representative offices and teaching facilities in Shenzhen and Accra, Ghana.

CEIBS’ impressive alumni base includes 1000+ CEOs and top-level decision makers.

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I took yesterday off to bask in the joy of our family’s weekend.  (Also to scrub the kitchen floor and otherwise clean up from our graduation party on Sunday night.)  But though I might be a day late, I wanted to point you to the stories and photos on the Tufts Commencement page.  Photo 15 shows the Fletcher crowd, as ever the most jubilant (read:  noisy) group of graduates.  We all could not have asked for a more beautiful day to celebrate.  A gift from Mother Nature for a great group of students.

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I have a very special (and complicated) weekend in front of me.  As I’ve been noting through the week, University Commencement takes place on Sunday, with related events on Saturday and tonight.  I’m going to turn up on Saturday for Fletcher’s Class Day.  I’ll wish the students well and, if I’m lucky, I’ll meet some family members.  On Sunday, I’ll be joining them for the All-University portion of graduation, but my role there will be as Mother of a Jumbo.  My son, Josh, is graduating from Tufts this year.

So my mum-in-law arrived from London last night, and a few of my cousins will also be joining us to celebrate.  And that would make for a busy and fun weekend.  But complicating (and enhancing) the schedule is that Kayla will be attending her high school prom on Saturday night.

For those of you not familiar with the prom, you can read up and check out some photos.  But you really need to ask your American friend.  (The dresses.  The tuxes.  The DRAMA!)  Kayla is embracing the prom protocols, and while Paul and his mother attend Saturday’s undergraduate Baccalaureate Service, Kayla and I will be at the hairdresser getting her an up-do.  Once Kayla is all dressed in her sophisticated gown and sparkly earrings, she’ll twirl a few times for the family, and head off with her friends.  Return time TBD.  She’ll be bleary-eyed but present for Commencement.

On Sunday, after the All-University phase of Commencement, we’ll attend Phase II with the Economics Department.  When all the ceremonial events are complete, Josh, some friends, their families, and our family will head back to our house to celebrate.

All in all, I expect the weekend to be bittersweet.  Sad to say good-bye to so many Fletcher students.  But very happy for all the graduates!  And proud of my Jumbo, Josh!

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Having worked at Fletcher for a long time, I find that, at a certain level, every graduating class looks the same.  They all include students working hard to learn as much as possible.  They all generate a strong feeling of community. They have vocal and quiet students, leaders and those who enjoy being led.  But, for whatever reasons, some classes seem special, and a special class is graduating on Sunday.

The Admissions Office is always asking students to do something for us.  Conduct interviews.  Host a coffee hour.  Let an admitted student stay with you for the Open House.  Take a survey.  Take another survey.  Staff an online chat.  Write something for the blog.  And more.  It’s a wonder that no one turns to us and says, “Ahem.  Do you realize that we’re not here to do your work for you?”  But they never do say that.  Not out loud, anyway.  So we have the very good fortune to get to know a lot of students.

I can’t list every graduating student in the blog, but I’d like to acknowledge the students who have spent a little extra time in the Admissions Office.  Like Bilal, Caitlin, Kartik, and Lauren, our student interns from this year or last.  If I could bottle a little of Lauren’s good cheer, I would.  No matter what we ask of her, she seems utterly delighted to have the opportunity to do it.  Asked to give the 10th tour of the week, she smiles as if I’ve just handed her a big cupcake.  We haven’t yet found the task that would shake her professionalism.

And Andrew, Rizwan, and Vanessa, who conducted Information Sessions last fall.  Vanessa occupies a special place because she has thanked me for unsolicited advice I gave her several years ago — the same kind of nosy suggestion that causes my family members’ eyes to roll.  Just glad my two cents benefited someone!

There’s also Rishi, Andrew, and Ho-Ming, who gave us two great years on the Admissions Committee.  I recently looked through my notes and discovered that Ho-Ming and I first met in 2007, an unusually long stretch between the first time I met a student and that student’s graduation, and we’ve been at least intermittently in contact for the full five years.

And though I won’t list them all here, there were a bunch of students who provided two years of interviews for us.  The interview program requires a small army of volunteers, and I’m always grateful to have returning interviewers who don’t need anything more than a schedule to jump into.

The extreme hazard in creating a list of students whose presence has added to Fletcher is that there’s always someone else to include.  To avoid egregious omission, I’ll stick to Admissions volunteers and interns.  I see them the most, and I’ll notice their absence daily.  But the Admissions staff always has their eyes out for students we interviewed or whose applications we read.  We watch them as they move along the road from applicant to graduate, sometimes checking in to make sure everything is going o.k.

And, inevitably, we feel wistful every year around Commencement time.  When I hear about the accomplishments and transitions that students have achieved through their Fletcher education, I’m thrilled for them!  But, speaking for everyone in Admissions, we’ll miss them!

CONGRATULATIONS graduating Fletcher students!!  Be sure to keep in touch — link us in, friend us, send an email now and then — and let us follow the story of your post-Fletcher lives!

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Dis-Orientation is in full swing for soon-to-graduate students.  For several years now, the completion of classes has been followed directly by a pre-Commencement week-or-so of communal fun, just as the first semester of classes is preceded by a week of Orientation.  Today’s activities are a daytime duck tour, followed by evening karaoke.  Other activities have been more cultural (touring Newport mansions) or less (many themes of party), but surely no one could complain that there’s not enough to do.  And because even nearly two weeks of togetherness may not be enough, some students have already offered to host a farewell brunch for their fellows on Monday.

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In April, after I wrote my last post from the Hall of Flags, I was emailing with Manjula Dissanayake, one of the students featured.  A week later, we sat down and he described the incredible path he has followed from his pre-Fletcher days to now.  With Commencement just around the corner, I’m featuring Manjula’s story.

It all starts in 2007, when Manjula was working in finance in the DC area.  He and his roommates had previously raised funds for Sri Lanka after the 2004 tsunami, but they felt they could do more.  They decided to focus their efforts in the area of education, forming Educate Lanka.  Before long, Educate Lanka was occupying so much of Manjula’s time that he decided to dedicate himself to the effort, starting by pursuing graduate study in development and social entrepreneurship, either through an MBA or an international affairs degree.  An application process later, he enrolled in Fletcher’s MALD program in September 2010 as a Board of Overseers Scholar, and quickly got to work on building his own intellectual infrastructure to run the organization, which currently has a core volunteer staff of ten, and a larger pool of about 40 to draw upon.

I should pause here and describe Educate Lanka.  The organization’s main activity is securing micro-scholarships of $10 to $20 for students who lack funds but have a high potential to become future leaders, by connecting the kids with sponsors from around the world.  100% of the sponsorship funds go to the students.  There are no administrative expenses (this being a fledgling organization), but if something comes up, funds are raised through a separate fundraising process, which also generates some scholarships for students without sponsors.  Currently 275 students are receiving scholarships.  A total of 350 have received funds, about 30 of whom have completed school (though a few left school and the program).  There are over 400 sponsors in 15+ countries.  Once they are in the program, the kids are funded through their undergraduate studies, starting as early as fifth grade (age 10).  Over 12 million Sri Lankan Rupees (about US$100,000) has been awarded.

Back to fall 2010.  Manjula settles in, registers for courses, etc.  Good things started to happen pretty much right away.  The first was that Educate Lanka was selected to receive the funds raised through Fletcher’s annual Asia Night event.  That same semester, Manjula drew support from Empower, a project of the Tufts Institute for Global Leadership (IGL).  And Educate Lanka took third place in the Tufts 100K Business Plan Competition.  Not a bad start for one semester, and at that point Manjula started to think Educate Lanka had the potential to become a larger organization.

In spring 2011, Manjula took a microfinance class with Kim Wilson, and cross-registered for a Harvard class on education and social entrepreneurship with Fernando Reimers.  Both professors offered advice on complementary models for Educate Lanka, and on how to make the organization more sustainable and scalable.  Should it continue as a 501(c)3 (non-profit)?  Or should it turn into a blended social business?  Also that semester, after attending the Harvard Social Enterprise Conference, someone referred him to USAID and the State Department, because he works with the Sri Lankan diaspora community, which led to an invitation to speak at the Secretary’s Global Diaspora Forum.

Come summer 2011, while also interning in the Education Investment Group of the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, Manjula was a finalist in the MassChallenge competition, as a result of which he received mentorship and guidance.  Toward the end of the summer, he used a fellowship from IGL to travel to Sri Lanka, visiting the north and east of the country, where Educate Lanka wasn’t yet working.  He returned with a sense of how to achieve near-term organizational expansion in Sri Lanka, including a corporate partnership model.

Meanwhile, Manjula’s roommate, Sadruddin, was thinking of replicating the model in Bangladesh, and had received a good response to the idea.  He hopes to pilot the project by the end of this year.  (Here they are together.)

Back at Fletcher in September 2011, Manjula reconnected with Prof. Wilson and Prof. Reimers, who together mentored him and helped him to think about global replication and to add a corporate partnership model to Educate Lanka.  An MIT class on Development Ventures required him to take his ideas and act on them.  He received another IGL/Empower fellowship to return to Sri Lanka during the winter break.  And he continued entering business plan competitions.  He was one of two finalists in the MIT 100K Elevator Pitch Competition.

His Fletcher classmates sent more funds Educate Lanka’s way from 2011 Asia Night proceeds, and Manjula was one of a small group honored as a UN Volunteer of the Year in Sri Lanka.  Also helpful, more Fletcher students were jumping on board, including a group that wrote a consulting report on the concept of distance learning in Sri Lanka.  He received additional funding from the Center for Emerging Market Enterprises, and IGL is committed to supporting Manjula, even after graduation.

In spring 2012, Manjula was a semi-finalist at the Harvard Social Entrepreneurship Pitch Competition.  And this semester also found him in two classes specifically selected to build his skills set.  Along the way, he needed to write a thesis and do the other things expected of Fletcher students.  Oh, and he attended Clinton Global Initiative University in March, and was an Echoing Green semi-finalist.  In preparing to graduate, he created his own Fletcher Field of Study:  Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship in International Development.  (His second field is International Political Economy.)

I asked Manjula to reflect on his Fletcher experience, which seems to have been uniquely successful in connecting him to the local academic community.  He said that he came to Fletcher “with the idea to get more guidance, more advice” and to “test the model and see if it has legs.”  He confirmed that he was able to do that through classes, the business plan competitions, talking to mentors, seeing the response of people who believe in the Educate Lanka model (including some who want to replicate it elsewhere in South Asia and in Africa), and talking in panels and at conferences.  All of this pushed him to move Educate Lanka toward a sustainable social business model while maintaining its core scholarship model.

What’s coming up after graduation?  There are five or six fundraising events set up for the summer.  The model will be starting up in Bangladesh, leading to “Educate World” in many countries.  There’s a plan to start an online platform to arrange one-on-one mentoring for underprivileged kids, enabling knowledge-sharing between the developed and developing world (and also generating more traffic for the Educate Lanka website).  The mentoring program would offer a new means of involvement for people who can’t contribute funds, and builds the community of people Manjula says are energized with “‘change the world’ spirit.”

Finally, Manjula took a minute to say “how much I appreciate all the support and backing I have received from my fellow Fletcher students, from all three classes (’11,’12,’13) with which I had the privilege to share my experience, as well as faculty, staff, and alumni. I owe them my  thanks.”

I’m going to try to keep up with Manjula and Educate Lanka through the coming year, and I’ll report back on Manjula’s post-Fletcher path.  Based on his success in the past two years, I’m guessing there will be plenty to write about.

Is summer a good time to visit Fletcher?  Well…truth be told, it’s not optimal.  But there are plenty of people for whom summer is the only opportunity to visit.  If that’s you, come on over — we’ll do our best to provide a warm welcome!  We’ll be offering Information Sessions most Mondays from June 4 to August 6, and we have just hired two new interns who can answer your questions about the student experience. You can also arrange an evaluative interview.

What we don’t have a lot of is classes to attend.  Or buzz.  It’s crazy quiet here in the summer.  But a summer visit is better than no visit, so check out the list of sessions and sign up for the one that’s convenient for you.

Meanwhile, I just finished talking to Kristen, who updated me on plans for this summer’s Coffee Hours.  She put out the call yesterday, and within minutes (in that wonderful Fletcher way), 25 students had offered to host a coffee in their far-flung locations this summer.  Kristen will finalize the plans in the next few weeks, and then you’ll be invited to sign up for a coffee near you.

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I’m very pleased with the results of my first ever blog survey, which has provided me with a nice list of topics of interest to readers.  Several people asked me to write about the waitlist.  Done!  And the suggestions of others will be covered in future blog posts.

A few people asked me to pull out my reporter’s notebook and start writing about professors and students.  As it happens, I have been working on a long post about one of our soon-to-graduate students.  Look for it next week!  And I’ll try to do more in the future.  Meanwhile, I’m going to use today’s post to point you toward information about students that’s already on the web site.

First, there are the brief pieces, including pre-Fletcher work and education experience, about the fall 2011 entering class — the folks who will still be around to meet our incoming students, and the fall 2010 entering class — the students to whom we’ll soon say good-bye.  And, you can access more profiles by degree program for MALD, MIB, LLM, MA, and PhD students.

I enjoy interviewing people, and I will definitely take the time to include more features on the blog in the future.  But I’ll also occasionally point you toward information that’s already out there and ready for you to read.

 

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