On November 9 at the Great Hall of the Massachusetts State House, the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at UMass Boston hosted a “Be the Change: Exploring Graduate Programs in Public Service” event. Former Congressman Barney Frank received a public service award, honoring the work of his late mother Elsie Frank, a dedicated humanitarian, whose work on behalf of senior citizens helped shape local and national legislation, and the former congressman’s decades-long work in Washington, D.C. and Massachusetts State House.
The audience rose to their feet when Dean David W. Cash announced “perhaps the first and only mother and son public service honor” awarded to Frank, and his mother, an advocate for elderly homeless women. Cash noted, “We have two reasons for being here− to showcase the McCormack Graduate School and to celebrate public service.”
Participants, including several state senators and dozens of prospective students, also heard from Senators Linda Dorcena Forry (D- First Suffolk District, which includes UMass Boston) and Bruce E. Tarr (R- First Essex and Middlesex District). In their welcoming remarks, they spoke of the necessary values needed in public service work.
Frank gave the keynote address, recalling his mother’s public service and the importance of getting involved in government. “My mother was an extraordinary woman,” Frank said, sharing examples of her impact and calling her “a master of legislative lobbying.” He also discussed public sector bashing.
“This fashion of denigrating the public sector troubles me greatly. It seriously disserves the public interest," he said. “Be as critical as you want about policy, but don’t fall in the habit of blaming government itself.”
He concluded his remarks noting, “I have spent 45 years in government. Among the smartest and most dedicated people I’ve met have been my colleagues and those that work for them.” He invited the audience to “become crusaders for the very need of a public sector itself.”
Student and alumni panelists from the McCormack Graduate School included David Van Dam (Public Administration ’15), Parfait Gasana (International Relations ’15), Leidy Quiceno (Gender, Leadership, and Public Policy Program), and Monica Garlick (Public Policy PhD Program). They spoke of their experience at the school, including learning from student peers, the spirit of innovation, the goal to find solutions, the diversity of students, and the passionate faculty and staff, which all support their education for careers in the public sector.
Prospective students had the opportunity to speak with recruiters from graduate programs in public policy, public administration, conflict resolution, global governance and human security, international relations, and aging policy and services.
Tarr summed up the spirit of the evening saying, “If you bring passion and commitment, the McCormack Graduate School will give you the intellectual skills (to succeed in public service).”