Kevin A. McCluskey ’76, the senior director of community relations for Harvard, will leave his post this Friday after acting as Harvard's envoy to the Allston community for the past 22 years, a period of fraught relations between the University and the neighborhood.
McCluskey’s tenure has seen the 1997 discovery of the University’s surreptitious land purchases in the neighborhood, the 2003 announcement of Harvard’s intention to build a $1 billion stem cell research complex on Western Avenue, Boston’s fast-tracking of the plan, the breaking of ground on the site in 2008, and the indefinite halt on construction resulting from a 30 percent drop in the University’s endowment.
Now, just two months after the Harvard Allston Work Team—a 14-person group comprising of Harvard faculty, deans, and alumni—released a series of recommendations for how the University ought to proceed in the neighborhood, the Boston native is stepping down as the mediator between Harvard and Allston.
“It is not at all unusual for people to assess their career paths at various junctures in their professional lives, and in that regard, the release of the Work Team recommendations represented a particularly relevant point in time for me to consider this transition,” McCluskey wrote in an email.
Indeed, Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications Christine M. Heenan wrote in a statement that the release of the recommendations, which stated that Harvard ought to continue construction on the Science Complex, provides an opportunity for McCluskey to “move forward and explore new challenges” within the Harvard community.
However, McCluskey’s next move remains unclear.
“The conclusion of another academic year is also a normal time for folks in my position to consider future options,” McCluskey wrote. “I plan to explore other arenas where, as I have at Harvard, I can apply my skills and experience to contribute to the success of a vibrant organization.”
During his time in the post, McCluskey has overseen a variety of community outreach projects, including an annual family skating party hosted every year in the Bright Hockey Center.
“Any success I may have enjoyed in that role is directly attributable to the generosity of spirit and welcoming collaboration that each of you gave me during my rewarding tenure at Harvard,” McCluskey wrote.
While McCluskey was sometimes the bearer of bad news, Chair of the Harvard Allston Task Force Ray Mellone said that he was a positive force in the relationship between the University and the neighborhood.
“I personally like him as a representative of Harvard because he seems to be able to be very professional of how he treats the community,” said Mellone.
—Staff writer Nathalie R. Miraval can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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