When Charles Tufts donated the land around Walnut Hill in 1852, he envisioned a "Light on the Hill." A century and a…More half later, his vision seems to have come to fruition, as those few windswept acres now hold one of the nation's premier universities. With 10 schools ranging from the undergraduate college to the prestigious Fletcher School of International Relations, Tufts has certainly flourished from its humble roots.
Though famous for its elite international-relations program, Tufts is more than esoteric foreign languages and future diplomats. Tufts holds several championship titles across its division, NESCAC. Its on-campus dining facility is ranked among the top three in the nation (usually losing out only to culinary schools), and its study-abroad program is consistently ranked No. 1 in the nation.
Community resources: The university also offers many perks for area residents. Their Tufts Neighbors web page includes a calendar of arts, culture, and sports events, as well as lectures, that are all open to the public. They've made room on their campus for a public community garden, a playground, and the Tufts Playing Field park. Students volunteer in the community, and each year school staff donate to the Tufts Neighborhood Service Fund, which supports programs in their host towns of Somerville, Medford, Grafton and Boston's Chinatown. Residents may use the school's library resources on site (but books may not be checked out). And watch for Community Day each fall. At this on-campus festival, residents are treated to live music and dance as well as school tours and good eats.
Fun fact: After a generous donation from P.T. Barnum early in the school's life, Jumbo the elephant (allegedly Dumbo's friend) became Tufts' mascot, and his visage can be found all over the hilly campus.