Why UMass Boston? Picture of students on the University of Massachusetts Boston campus.

Building Our Campus

The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate (EMK) opened to the general public on March 31, 2015.

Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate

  • Bringing the rich history of the U.S. Senate to life

  • The new institute adds academic, research, and public engagement opportunities

“Teddy said there was no more perfect partner for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute than the University of Massachusetts Boston,” said Victoria Reggie Kennedy, wife of the late senator, during UMass Boston’s 2010 commencement address. “He loved this location – here on Columbia Point, next to his brother’s library, overlooking Dorchester Bay.”

That is why on March 30, 2015, President Barack Obama and a host of other national, state, and local leaders were on hand for the dedication of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate on the UMass Boston campus on Columbia Point.

First of its Kind
The institute is the first of its kind, a place where the public, students, and faculty can experience dramatic re-creations of significant moments in the U.S. Senate’s history inside a large amphitheater that can be arranged to recreate the current Senate Chamber or the Senate Chamber from 1810 to 1859.

All of the senators’ desks are interactive, with detailed information about each senator who sat at that desk, each vote cast from the desk, available at the touch of a button.

“There is no greater tribute we could offer than to make the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate a reality,” President Barack Obama said in a speech in Washington, DC, in October 2009. “It will be a living institute where students, and teachers, and the public can come together and learn about the role and importance of the Senate he loved so much.”

Interactive Exhibits
Other features include:

  • Interactive spaces in the hallways outside the chamber
  • Classrooms circling the perimeter of the building
  • Readily available digitized documents and information

The institute plans to host a Summer Senate program, where 100 students, two from each state, will come to the institute to role play their state’s senators’ actions in mock hearings and voting on historic legislation.

The academic and research programs of the institute will complement those currently offered at UMass Boston and at the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies. UMass Boston students and faculty will enjoy preferential access to classes, programs, and the digital library of the institute. In addition, the university will be able to use the institute's conference facilities for meetings and programs.

“What we are doing there is going to be something unlike anything anywhere in the world really,” Reggie Kennedy said. “We’re going to bring history alive.”

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