The Massachusetts native, who became chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Asheville in 2014, will begin her role at the 2-year-old Boston institute in January 2018.
"I am honored to join the team at the Institute," Grant said in a statement. "I am impressed by what is taking place there – the vibrant conversations, the civic learning, the exchange of ideas, and the active demonstration of democracy. The institute is a place where people from all walks of life can experience the power of finding common ground and shifting political dialogue away from polarization and towards bipartisanship. This work is greatly important and I look forward to the opportunity to continue expanding the institute's reach."
Kennedy was an imposing political presence in national politics, serving as U.S. senator for Massachusetts for almost 47 years. He won the special election to fill the seat left by his brother, President John F. Kennedy, in 1962 and served until 2009, when he died at age 77 from an inoperable brain tumor.
Grant spent a dozen years leading her alma mater in North Adams, developing the state college into one the premier public liberal arts colleges in the nation. During her tenure, MCLA became a central tenet of the city's burgeoning creative community through its arts programs and internships, downtown galleries and the founding of the DownStreet Arts program that brings artists and performers to Main Street once a month during the summer. The college became known for its community engagement and growing enrollment, and Grant lead its first comprehensive capital campaign.
She oversaw more than $100 million in private and public investments that transformed the century-old campus, from the renovation of the historic Murdock Hall to the long anticipated opening of the Center for Science and Innovation, for which she advocated for for years with state lawmakers.
As chancellor at UNC-Asheville, she continued the types of efforts that had made such a difference in North Adams, and is credited for making innovation a guiding value of the university's new strategic plan. Under her leadership, the university was ranked No. 1 for "Making an Impact" by the Princeton review in 2016, recognizing schools with the best community service opportunities and student engagement.
"Chancellor Grant’s tenure at UNC Asheville can be characterized by intense energy, integrity, passion, and wisdom. We have been witness to remarkable institutional changes over the past three years," said Kennon D. Briggs
chairman of the UNC-Asheville Board of Trustees in a statement to the college community. "We have seen our university become more inclusive, and have enjoyed unprecedented connections with our host community, most notably the City of Asheville and Buncombe County."
Earlier in her career, she also held leadership positions at the University of Massachusetts, both on the Boston campus and in the President's Office. Grant holds a doctorate in social policy from the Heller School at Brandeis University, a master's degree in public affairs from the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at UMass Boston, and a bachelor of arts degree in sociology from MCLA.
"We are thrilled to have an outstanding leader like Mary Grant as the new president of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute," said Victoria Reggie Kennedy, co-founder and president of the board of the institute, and widow of the late senator. "Dr. Grant is passionate about the institute's mission to use a deeper of understanding of the United States Senate to encourage participatory democracy. She has the experience and vision to inspire the next generation of our nation's leaders and to lead the Institute into its next phase of growth and development. Now, more than ever, we believe it important to fulfill my husband's vision of engaging Americans, young and old, in active citizenship."
The institute opened its doors in March 2015 and features high-tech exhibits and interactive programs that engage visitors and students from across the world in conversations and activities that demonstrate the important role the U.S. Senate and active citizen participation play in our democracy. Jean F. MacCormack, who came out of retirement in November 2014 to lead the institute, will actively assist in the transition before stepping down in January.
Since opening, the institute has welcomed more than 30,000 students from nearly 400 schools to become Senators for a Day, where they learn about the legislative process through active role play. The Institute's Senate Immersion Module program was nationally recognized in 2017 with a Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement in the category of connected immersion in education. In 2016, the British Guild of Travel Writers recognized the institute as one of the top five new tourism destinations in the wider world category.
The institute is dedicated to educating the public about the important role of the Senate in our government, encouraging participatory democracy, invigorating civil discourse, and inspiring the next generation of citizens and leaders to engage in the civic life of our communities.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
We show up at hurricanes, budget meetings, high school games, accidents, fires and community events. We show up at celebrations and tragedies and everything in between. We show up so our readers can learn about pivotal events that affect their communities and their lives.
How important is local news to you? You can support independent, unbiased journalism and help iBerkshires grow for as a little as the cost of a cup of coffee a week.