Mayor Menino Joins Boston University

Mayor Menino’s press conference with BU President Robert Brown following Menino’s announcement of his future involvement with the university. BU News Service’s Gabrielle Lucivero and Patrick Thomas report from 100 Bay State Road.

By Jamie Bologna
BU News Service

Boston — Mayor Thomas Menino announced on Wednesday that he will join Boston University after his term ends next year. Menino will co-direct BU’s new Initiative on Cities along with the chair of the department of political science, Graham Wilson. According to BU President Robert Brown, the initiative will serve as a forum to bring together researchers, constituencies, and experts on urban issues from around the world.

“I can’t think of anyone better suited to lead such an initiative than Boston’s Mayor Menino,” said Brown at press conference in the rotunda at Marciano Commons.

“Cities are full of energy and promise these days. But they are also full of challenges — of environmental threats, of educational roadblocks, of growing inequalities,” Menino said at the event.  “I hope very much to help mentor some new mayors in cities around the globe as they tackle these issues.”

Menino, who has served as mayor of Boston for two decades, announced in March that he would not seek another term. It was at that point, President Brown said after today’s announcement, that the University drafted a proposal for Menino’s consideration.

“Urbanization is growing at leaps and bounds,” said Brown after the event in the rotunda, surrounded by more than 50 students, numerous faculty members and media. “The number of cities in the world with over a million people has gone up precipitously in the last 20 years and they’re all struggling with the same issues.” According to the 2010 U.S. Census, urban areas account for almost 81 percent of the U.S. population and American cities have grown by 12 percent since 2000, outpacing the national growth rate.

According to the University, the new initiative will be a part of the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future. “It’s not a think tank in the sense that think tanks always end up being Ivory Towers in which they give out proclamations but don’t engage people,” said Brown. “That’s not the style that will evolve with Graham and Tom.”

“I’m not an Ivory Tower type guy, I’m a hands on type guy,” said Menino.

As he left the press conference, a Louisville Slugger baseball bat cane in hand, Menino chatted with a number of students, including Constance Gobert, a junior from Paris.

“Paris is not really a student city compared with Boston,” said Gobert. “I think the mayor of Paris could learn from Boston and care a little bit more about students.”

Indeed, that’s one of Menino’s goals as codirector: to bring lessons to other cities and engaging young people.  “I want to get young people enthused about government, get them back into the business,” said Menino. “I hope to bring students together to talk about issues, because the students here are the future generations that will lead America—I want them to be involved.”

Boston mayor-elect Marty Walsh will take the helm of the city in January.

“I’m excited about this new chapter in my life, but until that page turns, my focus will be where it’s always been — carrying out my duty as mayor,” said Menino. He said his first day at BU will be February first, but he plans on organizing on campus before then. “I’m not going to just sit at home. I have 54 days left, but who’s counting?”

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