Jules Bourbeau ’25
On Oct. 14, Bowdoin College inaugurated their 16th president, Safa R. Zaki. While the Board of Trustees unanimously voted her into office in March 2023, and she officially began the position in July 2023, her acceptance of the role especially calls for a proper celebration; Zaki is the first woman president in all of Bowdoin’s 229 year history. Before Bowdoin, Zaki served as the dean of faculty at Williams College as well as the John B. McCoy and John T. McCoy professor of psychology.
The occasion was met with a weekend full of events, beginning with a host of dance and music performances on Thursday. Zaki then decided to show her commitment to relevant issues in the academic world by including a panel on the use of AI in the liberal arts as part of the wider celebration on Friday. The weekend ended with the inauguration ceremony proper on Saturday morning, followed by lunch and a community-wide flower bulb planting to usher forth the continued growth of the college under its new leadership.
On Oct. 6, Sunil Kumar was officially welcomed as Tufts’ first person of color to hold the position of university president. Much of the celebrating occurred in the previous academic year, when the plans to accept Kumar as president were solidified, but the official inauguration ceremony waited until after his appointance. Members of the Board of Trustees that nominated him as well as a former colleague at John Hopkins University introduced him before he took to the stage.
The inauguration was complicated by a protest immediately preceding the ceremony. Members of the Tufts University Graduate Workers Union and their supporters staged a walkout. The group has been protesting for higher wages and better working conditions for graduate workers, a problem relevant to all universities, but especially so for Tufts, with costs of living in Somerville and the wider Metro Boston area rising. Despite the proximity, none of the speakers at the inauguration ceremony addressed the protest, but it was no doubt on many of their minds. Regardless of the outcome, as Kumar steps into his new role as Tufts’ 14th president, it undoubtedly marks a new era for the institution.