Dean Leadership Institute was pleased to welcome Governor Michael S. Dukakis, former three-term governor of Massachusetts, as a speaker for the Fall 2022 Dean Leadership Institute Speaker Series.
A native of Brookline, MA, Governor Michael S. Dukakis served eight years as a member of the Massachusetts legislature and was elected Governor of Massachusetts three times. In 1988, he won the Democratic nomination for the presidency of the United States. He also served as Vice-Chairman on the Board of Directors of Amtrak.
Dean College Chancellor Ed Augustus hosted an evening of conversation with Governor Dukakis. They spoke about the former governor’s political career and his unprecedented three terms as governor of Massachusetts, something no one else in the modern era has done. Dukakis shared stories about running the Boston Marathon at age 17, meeting his wife Kitty for the first time and finding a home away from home at pizza shops run by Greek immigrants while on the campaign trail in Iowa. Chancellor Augustus and Governor Dukakis also discussed several current political issues ahead of the upcoming mid-term elections and the importance of young people getting involved and showing up to vote.
“My hope is that the best instincts in the country will assert themselves, that good people will continue to get elected, and we continue to encourage young people to get deeply and actively involved in public life,” Dukakis said. “I don’t think I would swap it for anything, the ability to make a difference in the lives of your fellow citizens. My hope is that many of you, students on this campus and students all over the country, will pursue that.”
When discussing the ups and downs of his presidential campaign, the former governor talked about the lessons he learned and the mistakes he made, but emphasized that no matter what, he loved the decision he made to get involved in politics.
“Nothing compares with the opportunity this political system allows to make a real difference in the lives of your fellow citizens,” Dukakis said. “Those of you who really want to make a contribution, think seriously about getting into public service of some kind. Help people, do well, do better.”
The conversation then opened up to questions from the audience, which included Dean students, faculty and staff, local community members, students from Franklin High School and more.
Governor Dukakis shared his advice for young people who are just getting started or interested in politics. “Get involved,” he emphasized. “Get involved. You’d be surprised at the influence you can have, both as individuals and as members of political organizations. For one thing, it’s a lot of fun, and for another, you really can make a difference. Anyone that tells you that good people can’t make a difference when they’re working together doesn’t know what they’re talking about. That doesn't mean that you can’t have occasional setbacks, but it really does make a difference to have good people deeply and actively involved in public life.”
Chancellor Augustus also recommended using social media to connect with others around causes they’re passionate about and attending office hours or writing letters and emails to their government representatives.
“People want to know what their constituents think about an issue or about a cause,” Augustus advised. “Don’t underestimate how much voice and power you have. Even if you’re a high school student or a college student, you may sometimes think, ‘Is anyone listening to what I have to say?’ They are. You have a lot more power and a lot more say than you might think, so use it.”
When asked about remaining resilient during times of setbacks or challenges, Dukakis reiterated a lesson he had learned after losing his bid for re-nomination as governor in the 1978 primary election. In his first term as governor, he said he was a good talker, but not a very good listener. "My second time around, I spent a lot of time listening. People want to know you respect their ideas. We brought people together and listened. It was amazing how much progress we could make doing it that way. That was a lesson I learned as a result of defeat.”
A special thank you to Governor Dukakis for sharing his wisdom and experience with our community, and to our sponsors: BrightView Landscape Services, CFS, Inc., Harvard Maintenance and Pepsi for making this event possible.
For more information about past and future speakers, visit Dean Leadership Institute.