UMass Boston to Establish New Center for Community Democracy and Democratic Literacy
January 01, 2011
Office of Communications
Chancellor J. Keith Motley today announced that Judith Kurland, former chief of staff to Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and regional director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the Clinton administration, will join the University of Massachusetts Boston next month to establish the Center for Community Democracy and Democratic Literacy. The new center, which will be located in the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, will focus on empowering individuals and community decision-making through education around democratic principles and literacy.
“The Center for Community Democracy and Democratic Literacy will be a significant complement to the important centers and institutes already at the University of Massachusetts Boston,” said Chancellor J. Keith Motley. “We look forward to this new center helping to further our work on public policy and the public service mission of the university.”
In addition to working with other UMass Boston centers and institutes, the center will work with successful community groups like the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative and emerging community coalitions to develop models for resident/citizen decision-making that can be replicated elsewhere. In addition, the center will focus on advancing democratic literacy among both mainstream populations and disenfranchised groups.
“The danger of factionalism increases as the understanding of the tenets of American democracy and history of our founding as a democratic society declines,” said Kurland. “I hope that through the work of the center and in collaboration with my new colleagues at UMass Boston we can gain new understanding of the challenges and opportunities we face in expanding democracy and develop models for success.”
In addition to serving as chief of staff to Mayor Menino and as regional director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Kurland in 1988 became the only woman to serve as commissioner of Health and Hospitals for the city of Boston. There she was responsible for re-building Boston City Hospital and it was where she established the highly successful Healthy Boston program. The program aimed to improve the health of the city and its residents by recognizing and using the power and knowledge of communities to determine their priorities and have more control over their lives.
“Judith brings a wealth of public-sector policy development and experience to UMass Boston, and we look forward to her joining us,” said Steve Crosby, dean of the McCormack Graduate School. “Her voice and the new center will add a valuable new dimension to our work here.”
"Judith is an outstanding leader who has dedicated her career to advancing the policies and principles necessary to building a better Boston," Mayor Thomas M. Menino said. "Her passion for public service is admirable, and I look forward to continuing our work together in giving those without a voice the power to be heard."
Contact DeWayne Lehman at DeWayne.Lehman@umb.edu or 617-287-5302 for more information.
About UMass Boston
With a growing reputation for innovative research addressing complex issues, the University of Massachusetts Boston, metropolitan Boston’s only public university, offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s eight colleges and graduate schools serve more than 15,000 students while engaging local, national, and international constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service activities. To learn more about UMass Boston, visit www.umb.edu.