Former Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts President Mary K. Grant accepts post with Bridgewater State University

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BOSTON After less than two years in the position, former Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts President Mary K. Grant has stepped down as leader of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate to work for Bridgewater State University, according to the Boston Business Journal.

Grant will join Bridgewater State in January as senior administrative fellow for civics and social justice, according to a university statement. She will head the university's Martin Richard Institute for Social Justice, named in honor of the youngest victim of the 2013 bombing of the Boston Marathon. Bill and Denise Richard, Martin Richard's parents, are Bridgewater State graduates.

The institute oversees major programs designed to expand high-quality education for all children, through initiatives like the Bridge Partnership, which is tasked with increasing high school graduation and college attendance rates for low-income students who live in the Gateway Cities of Brockton and New Bedford.

Grant, whose departure from the Edward M. Kennedy Institute as president/CEO was announced on Tuesday, could not be reached for comment. But in a statement from the university, Grant said she is "excited by the opportunity to work on issues of equity, social justice and civic engagement that have been at the core of my professional career.

"I have admired for years the extraordinary work Bridgewater State University is doing in these areas and am honored to lead the institute named in Martin's honor," she said. "I look forward to joining with faculty, staff and other stakeholders in building upon what has already been accomplished."

In a statement, Bill and Denise Richard said that they know Grant and have worked with her in the past.

"We look forward to working with her in the years to come as we take the Martin Richard Institute to the next level," they said.

While serving as president of MCLA from 2002 to 2014, Grant nominated MCLA history professor Francis Jones-Sneed for the Sarah A. Lewis Social Justice Award at the Massachusetts Hall of Black Achievement at Bridgewater State in 2011. Jones-Sneed is currently professor emeritus of history, political science and public policy at MCLA.

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Grant, a native of Boston's South Shore, joined the Kennedy Institute in January 2018 after serving as chancellor of the University of North Carolina Asheville from January 2015 to December 2017.

During her almost two-year tenure in Boston, Grant launched several new civic education programs and secured significant grant funding, while raising the institute's national profile, according to a statement. At its annual dinner Oct. 24, the institute raised more than $1.5 million in support of its educational and public programs.

Earlier this year, the institute received the inaugural Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics Award from the Annenberg Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. The award includes a $200,000 cash prize that will pay for the building of a national initiative to train teachers how to discuss difficult topics in their classrooms. Grant also awarded the late senator an honorary degree many years ago.

"It's been an opportunity of a lifetime to lead the Kennedy Institute," said Grant, in a statement from the institute. "I have had the privilege to work with an extraordinary staff whose expertise and creativity make it possible for us to have the success we have had and a board that is passionate about the mission and the success of the institute. The work has never been more important."

"Mary Grant has performed extraordinary work for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute," said James J. Karam, chairman of the institute's board of directors. "She deepened our partnerships, helped raise our civic education profile, and positioned our young and dynamic organization well for the future."

Art Buckland will replace Grant as the institute's interim executive director, beginning on Wednesday.

The Edward M. Kennedy Institute, which opened in 2015, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan civic education organization. It was envisioned by Senator Kennedy to educate future generations about the role of the U.S. Senate in our democracy, encourage civic participation and inspire a new generation of leaders.

Tony Dobrowolski can be reached at tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6224.


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