Former Mayor Thomas M. Menino, the longest-serving Boston mayor and a friend of Emerson College, died October 30 after a battle with cancer. He was 71.
Emerson President Lee Pelton expressed his condolences over Menino’s passing today, saying, “Mayor Menino’s love for Boston was only exceeded by Boston’s love for him. He sought to inspire and support our neighborhoods and the people who lived there to be their very best selves. He was driven by a passion to make Boston’s resources available not only to a privileged few, but also to those who have not had the opportunity to share fully in life’s bounty. He governed with authority from a place of authenticity. He was a visionary whose noble aspirations for the city he loved were informed by a quiet humility. A great friend of Emerson College, he provided enormous resources and support of the College’s leadership role in the transformation of downtown Boston. He will be sorely missed.”
The Menino administration played a prominent role in the development of the College over the past two decades, as numerous projects—the College’s move to the Theatre District; the Tufte Performance and Production Center; the Cutler Majestic Theatre; the Paramount Center—were carried out during President Emerita Jackie Liebergott’s term.
“It was my great, good fortune to be president of Emerson College over the Menino era,” Liebergott said. “He opened doors where others would have put up walls. The College and the City and the people who believe that government can work owe him a great debt. If everyone who loves and honors him could have donated an hour of their lives, Mayor Menino would have lived another 30 years.”
Menino was a unique political figure in Boston history, becoming the city’s first Italian-American and longest-serving mayor when he was appointed to the position in 1993 after serving as city councilor, when then-Mayor Raymond Flynn was appointed to serve as United States Ambassador in Rome. Menino served five terms as mayor until he decided not to run for re-election last year amid declining health.
Menino, often dubbed as the “Urban Mechanic,” is credited with helping reshape Boston’s identity due to his large support of revitalization projects throughout the city, including the recent development of the Seaport District and Greenway areas. He was also a proponent of civil rights, beginning with his historical decision in 1995 to boycott the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in South Boston because of its exclusion of homosexuals.