Office of Government and Community Relations
The Office of Government and Community Relations (OGCR) fosters interaction and understanding between MIT and its neighbors, including local and state government. The office also supports the mission of the MIT Washington Office, reinforcing the efforts of the president, faculty, and administrators in their contacts with the federal government and several national higher education associations. The principal focus of OGCR is the MIT-Cambridge relationship. The office promotes understanding among Cambridge elected officials, neighborhood organizations, businesses, residents and MIT. The office endeavors to develop constructive working relationships, nurture partnership efforts, and collaborate on matters of mutual concern.
OGCR provided background and guidance on various licensing, permitting, zoning, safety, and transportation issues in Cambridge and in other towns. The office assisted in bringing Cambridge officials to campus as participants in groundbreakings, building openings, and other events at the Institute. The office led the effort to prepare the Institute's annual Town-Gown Report and its subsequent presentation to the Cambridge Planning Board.
OGCR staff participated in the Cambridge City Council's Committee on University Relations and attended meetings on planning and development, fiscal health, education, housing, and the environment. Office staff supported the efforts of Cambridge's Community Development Department to establish new economic policy guidelines for the city. The office helped to organize and promote a City Council-sponsored discussion of the effects of the knowledge-based economy on Cambridge residents. Working with staff from the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment, OGCR helped coordinate and host an Independent Activities Period seminar involving Cambridge city officials. Student participants in the seminar developed and presented strategies for promoting alternative energy sources to Cambridge residents.
In February, office staff organized a meeting of several of the Institute's faculty members to discuss national security issues with US Representative Michael Capuano. In March, the office organized a roundtable discussion among MIT senior officers, faculty, and a high-level officer in the Department of Homeland Security concerning the department's emerging needs for applied research.
OGCR staff continued to represent MIT on several committees of national associations focusing on community service, work-study financial aid, and other educational topics. The office worked with the local staff of the Massachusetts congressional delegation to include members of Congress in Institute activities and respond to their queries. The office maintained its practice of managing the president's annual mailing to the members of Congress, providing each with the names of freshmen admitted to the Institute from his or her state. OGCR staff worked collaboratively with local businesses to host a visit of Yang Jiechi, the ambassador of the People's Republic of China to the United States
Office staff accommodated dozens of community-based facility use requests, from hosting a Cambridge Public Library lecture by children's author Maurice Sendak to providing a venue for the Community Art Center's teen film festival. OGCR continued its practice of making donations to neighborhood programs and institutions. Staff represented MIT on more than 20 nonprofit boards and committees.
In September, OGCR staff worked with the Real Estate Office and students to host an open house for the community at the new graduate residence at 70 Pacific Street. This spring, to celebrate the transfer of the deed to Pacific Street Park from MIT to the City of Cambridge, office staff organized a block soccer party, attended by MIT students and neighborhood residents.
The office hosted the 9th annual President's Community Service Awards program, honoring Kathy Reddick, president of the Cambridge chapter of the NAACP, and Michael Foley of MIT's Campus Activities Complex. OGCR also hosted the 11th annual Cambridge First Day celebration, honoring Cambridge organizations and individuals working to preserve and improve the environment.
The office worked closely with the Cambridge Public Schools, the MIT Public Service Center, the MIT Museum, the Edgerton Center, and others to carry out a wide variety of educational programs and initiatives on behalf of Cambridge school children. OGCR managed MIT's hosting of the Massachusetts State Science Fair and assisted in the planning of the Elementary School Science Expo. OGCR staff participated in the search for a new superintendent of the Cambridge Public Schools. In the year ahead, the office plans to welcome the new superintendent and develop an appropriate vehicle that will allow businesses and institutions to strengthen educational programs and support school administration.
Office staff served on the boards of both the Cambridge and the Greater Boston Chambers of Commerce. In March, OGCR took a lead role in the preparation and release of "Engines of Economic Growth," a report on the impact of greater Boston's eight research universities on the area's economy. The office is also helping to organize the first Massachusetts Life Sciences Summit, which will bring together 100 leaders from the life-sciences cluster in the Commonwealth.
In the coming year, OGCR staff will welcome the Nora Theatre Company and the Underground Railway Theater as they move to a historic, Institute-owned building in the Central Square area of Cambridge. Housing the theater companies at a below-market rental rate is one of MIT's contributions to the revitalization of Central Square, an undertaking on which Cambridge city government, businesses, and nonprofit institutions are collaborating.
The office oversaw the 35-year old Community Service Fund (CSF) in its mission to support the efforts of MIT volunteers in the community. The 484 Psi Alpha Foundation, an alumni organization for the MIT chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, announced a pledge to donate $100,000 to CSF over the course of three years. The organization made its first contribution of $35,000 to the fund this year. The 2002 Community Giving Campaign again yielded great results for CSF. The annual sale of the plants from MIT's Commencement ceremony in June brought volunteers from across the community together to help raise money for CSF. OGCR managed the disbursement of over $130,000 in grants from CSF to local nonprofit organizations.
In December, OGCR staff joined with colleagues at the Institute to note the passing of Walter L. Milne, former director of the Office of Government and Community Relations. Mr. Milne, who established the office, assisted six MIT presidents during his 40 years of service to the Institute.
In February of 2003, OGCR launched its new web site, http://web.mit.edu/govt-relations/www/, to promote MIT's role in the community to a broader audience. In March, Rachel S. Jellinek joined OGCR as assistant for government and community relations.
More information about the Office of Government and Community Relations is available on the web at http://web.mit.edu/govt-relations/www/.