Taking Bold Steps

Jim and Kristy Tiampo are on a mission to recruit and retain world-class engineering faculty.
Jim and Kristy Tiampo

Kristy and Jim Tiampo

Jim Tiampo, E83, A83, knows firsthand the difference a good professor can make. As an undergraduate, he was so inspired by engineering professor Lewis Edgers’s passion for geotechnical studies that he pursued the field himself. And he owes his major in French literature to the late professor James Wadsworth, who wouldn’t let him drop it after Tiampo switched to engineering.

But inspirational and supportive professors need support themselves—especially junior faculty just starting their careers. Jim’s wife Kristy, E83, understands that very well. Now a professor of geological sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder, she remembers how hard she worked to establish herself early in her career, and how grateful she was to be awarded an endowed research chair at a university in Canada.

That’s partly why Jim and Kristy recently made a gift to endow a junior faculty professorship at the School of Engineering through the Professorship Partnership Challenge. “It’s very heartening for us to be part of a talented person’s success and to help keep them at Tufts,” said Jim, a member of the School of Engineering’s Board of Advisors.

As a biracial couple, Jim and Kristy are also passionate about cultivating diversity in higher education. “The opportunities we’ve been able to provide to our kids made us think about what’s not available to many others,” said Jim. In 2012, the couple established the Tiampo Family Endowed Scholarship Fund to help deserving students get the excellent learning experience Tufts offers. And they hope their latest gift will also help ensure that the diversity of the student body is reflected in the faculty. Efforts to increase diversity in the STEM fields over the past few decades “have had only limited success,” Kristy said. “We need to think differently and take bold steps, at all levels of education, and this is one way that Jim and I can contribute to that goal.”

School of Engineering Dean Jianmin Qu said the new Tiampo Family Professorship represents an important step forward for the university. “Supporting diversity within the School of Engineering faculty, principally among junior faculty who will be instrumental in teaching, learning, and research at Tufts for years to come, is critical to our continued success,” Qu said. He added that awarding named endowed professorships, normally reserved for senior faculty, to junior professors creates a unique opportunity “to recruit world-class faculty, provide resources to support their research and course development, and help them build a professional home and become invested in our great institution.”

With their gift, the Tiampos are supporting our future innovators, makers, and problem-solvers who will go on to change the world. “The impact of Jim and Kristy’s generous contribution,” Qu said, “will be felt far beyond the labs and classrooms of Tufts University.”

Jim and Kristy share a great fondness and faith in the school that brought them together and put them on the path to where they are today. Through the Tiampo Family Professorship they want to ensure that future students have the same access to education excellence that they did. “I’m hoping we’ll have a part in making Tufts a leader in hiring and keeping great professors, especially those from diverse backgrounds,” Jim said. He added, “It’s certainly a wonderful feeling to know that we’re contributing to a positive experience at Tufts for everyone involved, and a positive outcome in the world beyond Tufts.”


Through the Professorship Partnership Challenge, an initiative of Brighter World designed to support and retain excellent professors, donors contribute 60 percent of the total cost of endowing either a full or junior professorship, and Tufts provides the remaining 40 percent. Gifts and pledges made to the challenge before or on June 30, 2019, are eligible. Please contact Eric Johnson at eric.johnson@tufts.edu or 617-627-5484 for more information.