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Profiles in Giving

A savvy investment supports Tufts students in uniform

It wasn’t easy being in ROTC at Tufts in 1977. Just ask John Howe, A80, A10P.

The university had voted to disband its own ROTC program in 1969 amidst the heat of Vietnam. Howe was one of the first Tufts students to join the program at MIT, which welcomed all students from the Boston area. Commuting to and from the two schools in his uniform for military training drew a lot of attention—especially on the Hill—and as Howe remembers, “not much of it was positive.”

Financial necessity and a family history of military service pushed Howe through the anti-war sentiment. And with the scholarship that ROTC provided, he earned his bachelor’s in history and classics. After his years of service in the United States Army, Howe became a bond trader on Wall Street and went on to found a hedge fund in Connecticut.

When the opportunity to invest in some inexpensive bonds presented itself, Howe did just that and then decided to gift a portion to the Tufts ROTC Prize Fund. This fund is awarded annually to Tufts Army ROTC juniors or seniors based on their demonstrated leadership skills, scholastic achievements, and special contributions to the university.

The gift has quadrupled in value over the past few years and Howe estimates that at their current rate of growth, the bonds are expected to mature to about six times their original value, generating additional funding for the ROTC Prize Fund while ensuring that Tufts is able to recognize the hard work and dedication of these students for years to come.

“If you’re fortunate enough to be in a position to give back and the school’s been a factor in your success as it has been in mine,” says Howe, “then absolutely do it.” Also a generous supporter of Tufts Athletics, he hopes this money will be a “good motivator for students” considering the ROTC path.

Tufts ROTC students still stand out on campus today, but the uniform no longer draws a negative response. Their number is small, but thanks in part to those who paved the way, they walk tall.