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Bloomberg Gives $32 Million for Mayoral Leadership Program

Former New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg speaks out against the 'censorship' of ideas in universities, specifically those in the Ivy League.
Former New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg speaks out against the 'censorship' of ideas in universities, specifically those in the Ivy League. By George J Lok
By Nathaniel J. Hiatt, Crimson Staff Writer

Michael R. Bloomberg has committed $32 million to create an executive education program for mayors and mayoral aides in collaboration with Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and Business School, the Kennedy School announced on Thursday.

The $32 million gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, a foundation run by the three-term New York City Mayor and a 1966 Business School graduate, will fund the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative for the next four years. Jorrit de Jong, a lecturer at the Kennedy School, will lead the program, and as many as 300 mayors and 400 aides are expected to participate over the course of the program.

The program is centered around four executive education programs, according to de Jong, which provide classes for professionals already established in their field to help them improve at what they do.

“We have thousands of public sector executives and private sector executives every year but there was no comprehensive program for mayors, for city leaders, so that’s the centerpiece,” de Jong said in an interview.

Former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg delivered Harvard's Commencement address in 2014.
Former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg delivered Harvard's Commencement address in 2014. By George J Lok

The $32 million will go to a “wide array of activities from research to curriculum development, [to] fellowships for students,” de Jong said. The whole program will be free for the mayors themselves, so no public funds will be spent enrolling the elected officials.

In a press release, University President Drew G. Faust called the program “a vitally important opportunity to advance the understanding of urban issues and to work with mayors and other public officials to bring discoveries from university research into communities across the nation and around the world.”

Kennedy School Dean Douglas W. Elmendorf, in the press release, added that the program’s “goal is to enable innovative leadership, and to foster lifelong networks that will serve them and their citizens for decades to come.”

In addition, the program will create internship positions for students in mayors’ offices, provide research about city government, and create mentoring opportunities that will allow more experienced mayors to coach and work with new city leaders.

“We do student internships in mayors’ offices that can help the mayors to implement new practices that they’ve learned about in the program,” de Jong said. “And of course that’s a double-edged sword because it’s an experiential learning opportunity for students.”

Bloomberg has directed most of his donations toward his undergraduate alma mater, Johns Hopkins University, where, as of 2013, he had given $1.1 billion over the past 40 years. However, Bloomberg has already left his mark on Harvard: The Bloomberg Center at the Business School’s Baker Library is named after his father, and in 2014, he gave Harvard's Commencement address.

Bloomberg’s gift is part of Harvard’s capital campaign, according to Kennedy spokesperson Doug Gavel. Harvard surpassed its record-breaking $6.5 billion fundraising goal, but continues to fundraise for still-unfulfilled priorities.

—Staff writer Nathaniel J. Hiatt can be reached at nathaniel.hiatt@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @nathaniel_hiatt.

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