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Global Broadcasters

New media studio helps Fletcher School experts shape the conversation about 21st-century challenges

Breaking news moves fast, so if TV reporters can't get an expert on camera quickly, they'll find someone else.

That used to put the Fletcher School at a disadvantage. But thanks to a new media studio in the school's Ginn Library, professors who once had to travel to TV studios in the Greater Boston area to provide on-air commentary can now whisk in and broadcast live between classes.

"As part of our strategic plan, we wanted to raise our global profile and reputation," said James Stavridis, F83, F84, dean of the Fletcher School. "Investing in our media presence—having a high-quality, immediately accessible studio where our professors can do a lot of commentary on air—creates a real bounce, a sense in the larger world that Fletcher matters."

Increasing the visibility of Tufts faculty not only enhances the university's reputation by spreading the word about the quality of research and teaching here, it helps to educate the public about important issues in the news.

Since the studio opened in 2015, Fletcher faculty and the dean have used it more than 100 times. Combined with the 49 interviews that took place elsewhere, that's a total of 149 on-camera interviews in that first year of operation, compared with just 90 interviews the previous year.

The person most often in front of the camera is the dean himself, a former supreme allied commander of NATO in Europe who became the chief international security and diplomacy analyst for NBC News in August. When Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's emails were hacked in October, the dean conducted three interviews from the studio on the same day, appearing on NBC, CNBC, and MSNBC. One day in June, he used the studio to talk about the Brexit vote with four outlets: the BBC, Voice of America, Fox Business, and Fox News.

Other frequent studio users include Nadim Shehadi, director of the Fares Fletcher Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies; Kelly Sims Gallagher, director of the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy; and North Korea expert Sung-Yoon Lee, who is the Kim Koo-Korea Foundation Professor of Korean Studies. Mihir Mankad, a former TV news anchor at some of the top stations in India and a lecturer in communications at Fletcher, has trained professors to use the soundproof suite, which is tucked in a former boiler room behind library staff offices. The studio is available for faculty from any of Tufts' schools to use.

The studio was built through the generosity of Thomas Schmidheiny, H99, a member of the school's board of advisors who donated $306,000 to transform the corner of the library into a broadcasting hub. Schmidheiny is a Swiss businessman and philanthropist who holds an honorary degree from Tufts for his work in sustainable development. His $5 million gift in 2006 paved the way for the Master of International Business program at Fletcher, and he later funded an endowed professorship in international business at the school.

He said he was happy to underwrite the media studio. "Dean Stavridis and the professors at Fletcher—and across Tufts' schools—offer the kind of knowledge and insight that's essential for our times," he said. "The world needs their wisdom."

The proximity of the studio is a boon for those who used to drive an hour each way for a few minutes of air time. "Now," Stavridis said, "I can walk downstairs in three minutes and be on air and be back in my office three minutes later."