||In the 1840s, the Universalist Church wanted to open a college in New England. Boston businessman Charles Tufts gave the church a gift of 20 acres of land, valued at $20,000, on the condition it be used for establishing a college. With that, the location was decided. Tufts' land, which he inherited, was located on one of the highest hills in the Boston area, Walnut Hill, straddling Medford and Somerville.
As local lore has it, when a relative asked Charles Tufts what he would do with his land, and more specifically with "that bleak hill over in Medford," Tufts replied, "I will put a light on it." In 1855, a toast to the new Tufts College was offered at a Universalist gathering in Faneuil Hall. Hosea Ballou 2nd, a Universalist clergyman and the college's first president, remarked, "For if Tufts College is to be a source of illumination, as a beacon standing on a hill, where its light cannot be hidden, its influence will naturally work like all light; it will be diffusive."
When the Commonwealth of Massachusetts chartered Tufts College in 1852, the original act of incorporation noted the college should promote "virtue and piety and learning in such of the languages and liberal and useful arts as shall be recommended." The official college seal, bearing the motto Pax et Lux (Peace and Light) was adopted in 1857, and the student body picked the school colors of brown and blue in 1876. (The colors were not made official, however, until a 1960 vote of the Board of Trustees.)
In Tufts' early days, the main college building that would eventually bear Ballou's name served as both home and classroom for seven students, who were taught by four professors. By the time of Ballou's death in 1861, Tufts had 36 alumni, and 53 students enrolled.
Jumbo the Elephant, Tufts' Mascot
Tufts' official mascot, Jumbo the elephant, has been ranked among the most singular in college athletics by The Sporting News and Sports Illustrated and is the only college mascot found in Webster's Dictionary.
Tufts in Song
In 1990, the Tufts Alumni Association and the Department of Music collaborated to create "Tufts in Song," a 10-song album of Tufts standards sung a cappella by a cast of 42 alumni singers. Featured here are "Tuftonia's Day," the Tufts fight song, and "Dear Alma Mater," the school song.
Facts & Figures
Total students: 11,767
Graduate and professional: 5,847
Total faculty: 1,423
Total staff: 3,161
Total volumes, all libraries: 1,236,421
Total libraries: 6
Motto: Pax et Lux
Colors: Brown and blue
Mascot: Jumbo (elephant)
Clubs & Organizations
- 341 student organizations recognized by the Tufts Community Union
- 93.8% of students participate in at least one extracurricular or co-curricular activity
- 132 Graduate and Professional clubs and organizations