November 13, 2008
Northeastern’s Center for Urban and Regional Policy will take the name of Massachusetts’ longest-serving governor and his wife.
The research and policy “think and do tank” will be known as the Kitty and Michael Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, or in short The Dukakis Center, according to Barry Bluestone, dean of Northeastern’s School of Social Science, Urban Affairs and Public Policy, and director of the center.
“It is so apt to name the center after Michael and Kitty because both of them have been so devoted throughout their lives to all the issues the center has been involved with,” he said. “I can’t think of any couple who I’d rather have the center associated with than the two of them.”
Ed Klotzbier, Northeastern’s vice president for student affairs, began working for Dukakis as a Northeastern co-op student in 1987, and was with him through Dukakis’ presidential campaign of 1988. He said he was constantly impressed by Dukakis’ devotion to the nitty-gritty of urban policy.
“He held what he called Regional Days around the state, bringing his administration to cities and towns to address important issues,” Klotzbier said.
Young people, also, were at the top of the governor’s agenda.
“He always loved being in a room with students and talking to them about the importance of getting involved in government and public service,” said Klotzbier, who worked for the governor through 1990. “Northeastern's students are so fortunate to have such an engaged and experienced public figure here."
As the center enters its second decade, Bluestone hopes to build on its work with local economic development and housing issues, branching out into areas such as development in Massachusetts, as well as urban transportation and environmental sustainability, to name a few.
“As The Dukakis Center, we’re hoping that with all the support we’re getting we’ll be able to greatly expand our research base,” he said.
One project in the near term is a summit on immigration planned for the university’s campus this spring. Working with the Office of New Bostonians, The Dukakis Center will build on connections Kitty Dukakis made during her former post as director of the Refugee Policy Group and member of Refugees International, Bluestone said.
Kitty and Michael Dukakis will be honored at a tribute dinner and the governor’s 75th birthday celebration Nov. 15 at the Westin Copley Hotel.
Actress Olympia Dukakis, who starred in “Steel Magnolias” and “Moonstruck,” among other films, will emcee the event for her cousin Michael. Comedian Jimmy Tingle and harpist Deborah Henson-Conant will perform.
About 1,000 guests are expected to attend.
“For many, this will be the first time they’re learning about what we’re doing here at Northeastern,” Bluestone said, noting, “It’s a way for Northeastern to tell the world what we’re doing through the center, to serve greater Boston and the Commonwealth in all these ways.”
Bluestone founded the policy center in 1999, and built its reputation by both researching and suggesting solutions to urban problems. Among its most famous work, the center prepared annual Housing Report Cards outlining the scope of affordable housing, and developed the state’s newest and far-reaching legislation, chapters 40R and 40S. Both encouraged affordable housing through incentive programs.