Former Detroiter Lawrence Bacow
brings Yiddishkeit to Tufts University.
Special to the Jewish News
awrence S. Bacow
broke a 150-year-old
barrier at Tufts
University when he
became the school's first Jewish
president in September 2001.
Located near Boston in
Medford, Mass., and home to
the internationally renowned
Fletcher School of Diplomacy,
Tufts was founded by Unitarian
It may seem an unlikely jour-
ney for a Jewish boy from
Pontiac (and later West
Bloomfield), but no one who
knows Bacow (pronounced:
BACK-ow) seems too surprised.
This is a man who was a
teenage national sailing champi-
on, who graduated from
Massachusetts Institute of
Technology and almost 30 years
Lawrence Bacow, a Jew from Pontiac, is making his mark on academia.
later became its chancellor. He
holds a law degree he's never
used from Harvard College in
Cambridge, Mass., and taken a
Spaulding and Slye Development Company, and
tough stance against divestment of Israeli investments the MIT Center for Real Estate.
— yet refused to sign a controversial anti-intimida-
As Tufts' president, Bacow is getting a salary
tion petition signed by 300 other college presidents
equivalent to that earned by many CEOs in the pri-
because he thought it wasn't inclusive enough.
vate sector. While his compensation has not been
Bacow's diverse background, though unusual in
reported for this fiscal year, the man he succeeded
the ranks of university presidents, has s erved to pre-
in the post, John DiBiaggio — who had come to
pare him for dealing with these hot-button issues. In Tufts from the presidency of Michigan State
the rarified world of university leadership, Bacow,
University in East Lansing — received $328,169 in
51, brings to the table a mix of experience and
base pay in fiscal year 2000-2001, according to the
accomplishment in academics, university adminis-
Chronicle of Higher Education.
tration, fund-raising and business investment.
Alan Spoon, a former Detroiter who was Bacow's
On the business side, Bacow served from 1985-87 college and law school roommate, calls him "a natu-
as chief operating officer of Spaulding Investment
ral leader who's at ease with and enjoyed by Nobel
Co., whose founder is Charles H. "Hank"
laureates [he knows many] and students alike."
Spaulding, a life member of MIT Corporation,
"He remains one of my closest friends," added
which is the school's board of trustees. He founded
Spoon, managing general partner in the Boston
office of Polaris Venture
Partners, a venture capital .
Spoon, also former presi-
dent of the Washington
Post Company and
Newsweek magazine, said he
and Bacow "had heard
about one another while in
high school. I was at
Southfield, Larry at
Bloomfield Hills Andover,
but we didn't meet until
.freshman rush week at
MIT. We've been fast
friends ever since."
Spoon can attest to the
solid relationship between
Bacow and his wife, Adele,
saying, "He's deeply in love
with his fabulous and buoy-
ant partner. He fell head
over heels for her the
moment he met her. I know,
because I was his apartment
mate when he came home
from that first date."
The Bacows have become
frequent visitors to Tufts'
"It's a wonderful coincidence that Tufts' beautiful
Hillel is located in the center of campus, a few steps
from the president's house," Spoon said. "Larry and
Adele regularly attend Shabbat services there , and
really enjoy the leadership of its longstanding
"It's been wonderful to have Larry and Adele join
the Tufts community," said Rabbi Jeffrey Summit,
executive director of the Granoff Family Hillel
Center at Tufts.
'Lawrence Bacow is a person of tremendous ener-
gy and vision. We were honored that the
International Hillel Center asked him to represent
university presidents and deliver the keynote speech
Oct. 27 at the banquet marking the opening of
Hillers Arthur and Rochelle Belfer Building and the