Microsoft’s Andrea Taylor Named University Trustee
Civic leader has deep BU roots, and an intriguing agenda
Her parents attended BU. So did two uncles, her sister, and her former husband. Her mother’s papers are archived at the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center. Now Andrea Taylor, director of North America Community Affairs for Microsoft Corporation and a delegate to four UN summits, is joining the University’s Board of Trustees.
“We’ve got eight degrees among seven people,” says Taylor (COM’68). “We’ve been very receptive to, and have benefited from, the education we got at BU. We’re huge fans.”
Taylor’s parents grew up in segregated West Virginia and made their way to Boston in the 1940s after learning that African-American students were welcome at northern colleges. When Taylor enrolled at BU in the mid-1960s, she and her former husband helped launch UMOJA, the University’s black student union, which remains active today, and they were students when Martin Luther King, Jr. (GRS’55, Hon.’59) was assassinated. “BU has just been a touchstone in many ways,” she says.
Her mother, Della Brown Taylor Hardman (CFA’45), was the granddaughter of slaves and became an artist, an educator, and a community activist, settling on Martha’s Vineyard. She died in 2005 and HGARC acquired her papers. The donation process paved the way for what Taylor calls a “delightful” reunion between her and her alma mater.
Taylor runs Microsoft’s Community Technology Skills Program and Elevate America, a public-private partnership that offers free e-learning courses and certification exams, as well as employee community programs in the United States, including matching gifts and volunteering. She works with nonprofit organizations, governments, and businesses in the United States and Canada to advance employability and workforce development for youth, women, seniors, and displaced and disabled workers.
“Andrea’s passion for education, her global perspective, and her comprehensive understanding of new media are just three of the many valuable assets she brings to the board,” says Robert Knox (CAS’74, GSM’75), chair of the Board of Trustees. “We look forward to a long and fruitful association.”
Before joining Microsoft in June 2006, Taylor was the founding director of the Media Fund at the Ford Foundation, managing $50 million in support of global media projects, including Sesame Street in China and South Africa, acclaimed television series such as Eyes on the Prize and The Pacific Century, and National Public Radio. She began her career as a reporter, producer, and on-air host for a variety of newspapers and public television stations, including the Boston Globe, the Bay State Banner, and WGBH-TV in Boston.
After earning a B.S. in journalism at the College of Communication, she pursued postgraduate studies in international politics at New York University. In 2008, she received a COM Distinguished Alumni Award for her contributions to the communications industry.
As an adjunct faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Taylor developed and taught a new course, New Media, Power, and Global Diversity, to help prepare the next generation of academic leaders for policy and practice in the age of digital media. She has participated in four United Nations summits on development and information technology.
She says that as a trustee, she has specific goals: explore ways that the University can enhance its international profile, both by sending more BU students abroad and by attracting more foreign students to campus; make sure the curriculum stays relevant to technological advances and a rapidly changing economy; tap into alumni; and help increase diversity on campus.
“BU really does offer an extraordinary opportunity educationally because of its size, diversity, openness, and broad range of students and ideas,” Taylor says. “It’s really an unusual institution. Because there are so many outstanding institutions in the Boston area, it sometimes doesn’t get all the recognition it should. With 250,000-plus alumni, it’s leaving a major footprint on the life of the nation, and across the world.”
Caleb Daniloff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With all due respect to Dr. Taylor and her many respectable accomplishments on the world stage, I find it disconcerting to have a Microsoft employee on the board of trustees. What, exactly, does it mean that she will “make sure the curriculum stays relevant to technological advances”? The only “education” in which I could find Microsoft engaged involved training people on how to use their software in order to create new markets into which they can spread their monopoly.
This is not the sort of education the world needs. If they want to make a difference, Microsoft needs to support basic science and mathematics education in a platform-agnostic way, no strings attached. Let’s not inflict a Windows tax on the rest of the world’s development.
My comments are directed more to the question submittted on Tue 10/27/2009 ~ 11:56 am e.g. “What does Microsoft know about Education?” in regard to questioning the appointment of Andrea Hardman-Taylor,BS. MA. PhD [Ed] to the Board of Trustees at Boston University. Simply put, there are three relevant thoughts worthy of recording: 1) Boston University could not have made a wiser, nor more strategic choice in appointing Dr Andrea Taylor whose academic, philanthropic & social engineering activities are based on a familial tradition extending back three or more generations. Her mother, Dr Della Brown Taylor Hardman was a university professor who, among other academic achievements & eliamosynary activities, mentored the current President of the United States. And her grandfather, Mr Anderson Brown, imbued a sense of community responsibility to their entire family in and around Kanawha County & Chas.WV based on real estate holdings & business acumen. 2) Pointedly, Microsoft was both prescient & fortunate to have Dr Andrea Taylor head up one of its philanthropic divisions dedicated to domestic & international education, areas in which she is without peer. And,finally,3) I would like to suggest that Microsoft knows full-well how “to make a difference”…full-well how”to support basic science and mathematics” & the suggestion that “strings are attached” or in some way Windows can be nefariously “taxing” or that a “platform-agnostic” approach is circuitously to be sought are flawed premises &/or mis-matched metaphors, perhaps advanced by an odd competing corporate interest or observer. The overall outcome could not be better: Boston University’s Education endeavor is advanced; Microsoft’s many related missions are advanced & both Institutions are strengthened by this thoughtful appointment of Andrea Taylor as a Trustee of the former. Kudos & accolades are due to all involved.
John C. Norman MD DSc.[Hon]
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