Boston Mayor Martin Walsh to Deliver 2014 BUSPH Commencement Address

Posted on: May 4, 2014 Topics: BUSPH, commencement, convocation

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, the city’s first new leader in more than two decades, will be the honored speaker at the 2014 BUSPH Commencement, to be held on Saturday, May 17 at 2 p.m. in Boston University’s Agganis Arena.

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh

Walsh, the 54th mayor of the City of Boston, was born and raised in Dorchester and has implemented several health initiatives during an eventful first four months in office. He has proposed increasing the number of first responders who carry the drug-overdose antidote naloxone (Narcan) by allowing police and firefighters administer it in emergencies. Walsh’s first budget as mayor called for establishing trauma recovery units at neighborhood health centers, a plan hailed by community leaders.

Soon after his election in November 2013, Walsh appointed a committee of nearly two dozen public health experts to provide guidance on the city’s immediate and future health concerns. The Public Health Working Group Transition Team was co-chaired by David Rosenbloom, chair of the SPH Department of Health Policy and Management.

Rosenbloom is a former Boston Commissioner of Health and Hospitals, appointed to the post by Boston Mayor Kevin White in 1975. As commissioner, Rosenbloom was the city’s top public health officer and CEO of the city’s health delivery system, including Boston City Hospital (now Boston Medical Center), 22 neighborhood health centers, and the emergency medical system.

Walsh asked the team to explore potential answers to a single overarching question: “What can Boston city government do—whether by itself or in partnership with others—to make Boston a national leader in eliminating health disparities?”

The team released its findings on April 16 after an extensive review of current demographic data on the city’s existing health disparities, and dozens of interviews with stakeholders at all levels. In the report, the team recommended that the Mayor and his administration focus “immediate attention on the two most glaring and dangerous threats to public health and the safety of Boston residents: addiction and violence.”

A 2012 report by the Massachusetts Health Council found that greater Boston led the nation in the number of drug-related emergency room visits, with a rate about four times as high as the national average. Addiction, and the pain it inflicts, is a subject never far from Walsh’s thoughts; he is a recovering alcoholic who still attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings after more than 18 years of sobriety.

Walsh is a former state representative who for more than 16 years served a district that encompasses most of Dorchester and part of northern Quincy.

Walsh’s election in November 2013 heralded a new chapter in Boston history after the 21-year tenure of Mayor Thomas Menino, who currently serves as co-director for the BU Initiative on Cities. At the IoC, Menino leads an effort to investigate the dynamic nature of our world’s cities and bridge the gap between academic research on urban affairs and practical implementation.