the new dean of Tisch College: Dayna Cunningham

I’m pasting the official announcement below; and here is a link to a longer article. As a member of the search committee, I share this news with enthusiasm and excitement, and I second the sentiments about Alan Solomont, who has built the college into the force it is today.

Dear members of the Tufts community,

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Dayna Cunningham as the Pierre and Pamela Omidyar Dean of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life. She will assume the deanship on July 1.

With decades of leadership experience in not-for-profit organizations and higher education, Dayna has devoted her career to promoting civic participation, building robust community partnerships, and advocating for underrepresented communities.

Dayna comes to Tufts from MIT, where she was the founder and executive director of the Community Innovators Lab (CoLab), a center for urban planning and development that engages students and community groups to build large-scale collaborations that strengthen civic infrastructure in marginalized communities. One example of CoLab’s work is a partnership with the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative on infrastructure projects that build an ecosystem for economic democracy for people of color. Another example is CoLab’s Inclusive Regional Development program, which works with communities and practitioners to support innovative models for equitable development and well-being in Latin American countries.

Prior to founding CoLab, Dayna was the program director of the ELIAS Project at MIT, which was a collaboration between businesses, NGOs, and government to create initiatives that supported economic, social, and environmental sustainability.

Before her career in higher education, Dayna spent several years as a civil rights attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, litigating voting rights cases in Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, and other Southern states. She also worked in philanthropy as an associate director at the Rockefeller Foundation, where she integrated racial equity into resource spending and designed an annual grants program addressing civil rights and policy issues in the U.S.

Dayna earned an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management, a JD from New York University School of Law, and an undergraduate degree from Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges.

Dayna’s experience and accomplishments are complemented by her longstanding commitment to active citizenship and community impact—values that are foundational to Tisch College. We are confident that Dayna will make invaluable contributions both in her leadership of Tisch College and as a member of the university administration.

We are grateful to Alan Solomont, A70, A08P, for eight years of outstanding service as the dean of Tisch College. A beloved member of the Tufts community who has had a profound impact on the university, he will be retiring at the end of June. We would also like to acknowledge the diligence and thoughtful recommendations of the search advisory committee, led by School of Arts and Sciences Dean Jim Glaser.

Please join us in welcoming Dayna Cunningham to her role as the Omidyar Dean of Tisch College.


Anthony P. Monaco

Nadine Aubry
Provost and Senior Vice President

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About Peter

Associate Dean for Research and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life. Concerned about civic education, civic engagement, and democratic reform in the United States and elsewhere.