Volunteer Spotlight: Peter Delli Colli, A69, D73

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Peter Delli Colli, A69, D73, member of the Dental Campaign Committee and the University Gift Planning Leadership Council, embarks on a road trip with one of his beloved later-model vintage Volkswagen camper vans. Peter’s dental patients affectionately call him “Dr. D.,” and they refer to his vans as “Flossmobiles,” due to his license plate.

Growing up in a one-bedroom flat in a triple-decker with his parents and three sisters in Somerville’s Teele Square, Peter Delli Colli, A69, D73, never could have imagined he would have a lifelong relationship with the university down the street. “When I was in a baby carriage, my mother would take me on walks around the campus,” he joyfully recounts. Later, Peter attended Tufts on a full scholarship with room and board. “I had a bedroom for the first time in my life when I lived in Carmichael Hall during my freshman year.” Describing his time as an undergraduate biology major, and later as a graduate student at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine (TUSDM), he enthuses, “I was lucky because I had so much fun. I just loved the educational experience. I took engineering courses, as well as classes at the Museum School. I would have been a student forever, if I could.” Looking back, Peter reflects on how Tufts broadened his vision of the world. “Growing up in a loving family, with great home-cooked food, I felt well off. I had never been outside of Massachusetts. Tufts opened my eyes to a whole new world.”

Peter’s close relationship with Tufts has never wavered. He has been an active volunteer for the Tufts Dental Alumni Association, holding various positions on its Executive Board, including that of president. He has also served on the Executive Committee of the M Club, the dental school’s leadership giving society, and has been co-chair of numerous reunion committees for his TUSDM class.

For the past five years, Peter has been a member of the Brighter World Dental Campaign Committee and, as a member of the Charles Tufts Society, he has also been serving as the school’s representative on the University Gift Planning Leadership Council. Peter says he enjoys talking to other alumni about new programs; telling them how they can get involved; and encouraging them to give back to Tufts. He strongly believes that “the most important factor when inducing people to do something is simply to ask them to do it, and tell them ways they can.” When discussing planned giving with TUSDM alumni, Peter tells them about the joy he has experienced in “paying it forward” to subsequent generations of students. “Tufts was such a wonderful experience for me. I received a scholarship that changed my life. All of my contributions to Tufts have been for scholarships—helping students not have to worry so much about money. I want other alumni to find the same happiness in helping others that I have.”

Peter describes volunteering as being “part of the fabric of my life.” In addition to his work for Tufts, he has served on the boards of numerous charitable and civic organizations, and has been the chair of the town of Natick’s Board of Health for more than 30 years. He approaches his hobbies with the same gusto that he brings to his volunteer work. “All my friends know that I’m a car nut. I have too many cars, motorcycles, and boats. I’ve had four Volkswagen camper vans. My license plate reads, ‘FLOSS,’ and my patients refer to my old camper vans as 'Flossmobiles.'”

An inveterate optimist, Peter sums up his philosophy on life: “I’m a firm believer that we should be doing things that bring us joy, bring others joy, and without infringing on others on this earth. That’s what life is all about.”