Governor Patrick: Public Service "Brings Meaning and Purpose to our Lives"

by Stephanie Schorow, Harvard News Office

Even while extolling the virtues of public service, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick focused on the pitfalls of public life during remarks in an Oct. 22 Harvard Kennedy School John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum on “Inspiring Public Service.”

When he was elected governor in 2006, Patrick said, “I will admit there were a few things I did not anticipate. I knew there would be close media scrutiny but I did not anticipate that sometimes I would be left feeling that if I walked on water, the headline splash would be: ‘Patrick can’t swim.’”

As the laughter faded, he added, “I knew that change would come slowly. But I did not anticipate that we would sometimes have to do hand-to-hand combat with members of my own party.”

But even after recounting his own woes, Patrick described public service as a “balm for all the fear and the pain and all the uncertainty and disruption of our current economic distress.”

“Service stirs us. It brings meaning and purpose to our lives,” Patrick said. Yet, “Only a fool would say it’s easy.”
In her introduction, Harvard President Drew Faust praised Patrick’s record, saying, “Public service has been a central dimension of his personal and public life.”

Patrick, who graduated from Harvard in 1978, spent a graduate year in the Darfur region of Sudan in a United Nations youth training program. He received his J.D. from Harvard Law in 1982 and went on to work in both the public and private sector, including stints in the U.S. Justice Department under the Clinton administration.

Patrick, who faces a tough re-election battle, recounted the accomplishments of his administration while emphasizing the challenges from tough economic times.

“We are in crisis. We have only the barest appreciation today of how close we were to full-blown Depression just a year ago,” he said.

He cited accomplishments that included closing an $8 billion budget gap and delivering three responsible budgets “on time”; reforming the state pension system; reducing auto insurance rates; and improving education. “And people can marry whomever they love here in Massachusetts,” a line that drew the loudest applause.

To read the full story, visit The Harvard Gazette.

Deval Patrick

Gov. Deval Patrick '78, J.D. '82, shared his experience in both public service and the public spotlight during a forum at the Harvard Kennedy School. Photo credit Jon Chase, Harvard News Office.

“We need you to articulate what the world should look like and then to work with us, all of us, to make it so.” - Gov. Deval Patrick


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