Spring 2018

Stepping Up

As the Cummings School dean becomes Tufts’ provost ad interim, an interim dean is announced.

By Genevieve Rajewski

Previous Next

Deborah T. Kochevar (left) and Joyce Knoll. Photo: Alonso Nichols

Dean Deborah T. Kochevar has been named Tufts University provost ad interim as Provost David Harris prepares to assume the presidency of Union College. Over her twelve years as dean, Kochevar partnered with faculty, staff, and the university to navigate an economic downturn, while advancing the school’s research, teaching, and clinical care.

During Kochevar’s tenure, she created an associate dean for research position, a Faculty Research Advisory Committee, and a school research seed-grant program. A hallmark of her work has been initiatives that link Cummings School investigators with other schools and universities. In partnership with the Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute at Tufts Medical Center, Kochevar and Cummings School faculty helped form and lead the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) One Health Alliance, a national network of veterinary institutions working with NIH-funded CTSA medical partners to advance translational science. Innovative research areas fostered under Kochevar’s watch include comparative oncology, human-animal interaction, and global One Health endeavors through creation of the Department of Infectious Disease and Global Health.

The campus also has expanded and upgraded teaching, community, and clinical space with Kochevar at the helm via the addition of the Agnes Varis Campus Center and Auditorium, renovation and expansion of the Foster Hospital for Small Animals, and creation of the Equine Sports Medicine Complex. In partnership with the faculty, Kochevar increased hands-on teaching opportunities in primary care by creating the Tufts at Tech Community Veterinary Clinic at Worcester Technical High School, which serves low-income clients.

Kochevar championed diversity and inclusion and, in partnership with veterinary student colleagues, supported the creation of the Tufts Veterinary Council on Diversity. The initiative has grown to include faculty and staff and is synergistic with wellness efforts led by students and staff. As the first veterinary school dean to join the Lesbian and Gay Veterinary Medical Association, Kochevar has proudly watched Tufts students and faculty take the lead nationally in diversity organizations. The campus also has become more welcoming to international visitors through the good work of Cummings Hosts International.

Teaching has been a priority in the two strategic plans created since 2012, and Kochevar considers Cummings School faculty the primary driver for successful implementation of the school’s goals. Along the way, she always made the time to teach, including coordinating the Human Animal Relationships course, in which she had the chance to get to know enthusiastic first-year students. “From the beginning, I said I really wanted to keep teaching,” she said, “and stay connected with the students.”

Kochevar credits the friendship and support of alumni and key donors—many motivated by their clinical experiences at the school’s teaching hospitals—for helping the school realize its aspirations.

Harris, provost and senior vice president since 2012, set an example that will inform her work as provost ad interim, Kochevar said. “It has been a privilege to work with Provost Harris to build school strategic plans that share the vision for Tufts laid out in the T10 Strategic Plan he initiated,” she said, describing Harris as a model of engagement, accessibility, and transparency. “My goals will be to continue those traditions and to work with President Monaco to support current initiatives, and encourage cross-school partnerships and innovation in teaching and research.”

Kochevar said she is pleased to announce that Joyce Knoll has agreed to serve as Cummings School dean ad interim, beginning May 21. Knoll, who joined Tufts in 1990, is a section head of clinical pathology, founder of the clinical pathology laboratory, a master teacher and, since 2016, chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences. “Dr. Knoll is a caring, thoughtful educator known for her collegiality and good humor,” said Kochevar, pointing to a long line of honors won by Knoll: the Carl J. Norden Distinguished Teacher Award, the Zoetis Distinguished Veterinary Teacher Award, induction into the Tufts Alumni Hall of Fame, and one of the first winners of the Cummings School Exceptional Service Award. Knoll now cochairs the school’s strategic plan implementation committee and is its representative to the board of the Center for Enhancement of Learning and Teaching at Tufts.

“Dean Kochevar has done so much to help achieve the school’s goals. She’s been amazing to work with, and I count myself lucky to have her support and expertise to call on in this new role,” Knoll said. “I’ve learned so much about the wonderful people in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and the work they do. As interim dean, I look forward to having that same opportunity for the entire school and university—working across departments and campuses and having the chance to meet many of the donors who make possible so much of what we do every day.”

Top Stories

A Revolution in Grafton

Over 40 years, Cummings School has built itself into an international leader in veterinary education, expert clinical care, and interdisciplinary research.

Editor's Picks

A Mastiff Issue in China

A conservation medicine alum addresses the problem of free-ranging dogs on the Tibetan plateau.

On the Road with the Goat Doc

After she had trouble finding care for her own dairy goats, Cara Sammons-Shepard, V16, decided to become a traveling veterinarian herself.

Birth of the Veterinary School

Over 40 years, Cummings School has become an international leader in veterinary medicine. And all it took was buying nearly 600 acres for a dollar, palpating police horses, and performing the occasional surgery by penlight.