Brad Morse Endowment drive kicks off

05/16/2006
By From the Lowell Sun

By HIROKO SATO, Sun Staff
Lowell Sun

LOWELL -- For Bradford Morse, who grew up with people from poor neighborhoods in the city and worked as an usher at a local theater as a young man, working for the Untied Nations was a chance to work on the causes he was passionate about.

First as the U.N.'s undersecretary for political and general assembly affairs and then as the director of the development program, and founder and head of the Office of Emergency Operations for Africa, Morse devoted himself to helping the underprivileged until his death in 1994, as recalled by his friends.

And a group of community leaders is hoping commemorating Morse's legacy will help young people realize the importance of international relations and inspire youths to get involved.

"If there has ever been a time in this country or other countries to be concerned about international relations, sustainable development and peace, it is now," said John Wooding, provost for the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

"This is a great opportunity. It's long overdue," U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Lowell, said of the F. Bradford Morse Endowment for the Study of International Relations, Sustainability and Peace.

The university kicked off its endowment yesterday, hosting a working luncheon for the advisery group made up of faculty members, politicians and Morse's friends.

Meehan, who serves as the chair for the group, state Sen. Steven Panagiotakos, D-Lowell, and UMass Lowell Chancellor William Hogan were among those on hand to celebrate the kickoff. Others included Nicola Tsongas, Middlesex Community College external affairs vice president; Mehmed Ali, Lowell National Historical Park Mogan Cultural Center director; and UMass Lowell professor Dean Bergeron, representing the International Relations Club.

The endowment will fund an annual lecture series and support the university's international-relations and high-school model U.N. programs. Bergeron and fellow faculty member Joyce Denning raised the $65,000 seed money almost entirely by themselves, which the group hopes will grow to $1 million.

The fund was established in honor of Morse, whose long public-service career as a former deputy administrator of Veterans Administration and U.S. representative from Lowell is not well-known to the public.

Panagiotakos said the group could team up with local schools to teach about Morse to make him a role model. Robert Hatem, who was Morse's aide in Washington, D.C., also said commitment from Lowell schools to teach the students about what he was all about would make "the finest tribute" to him. Hatem said Morse championed civil and human rights.

Middlesex Community College is planning to name the federal building on its downtown Lowell campus -- where Morse once had an office -- after Morse.

Meehan said helping youths understand politics as a vehicle to promote world peace and the importance of international relations is critical to the welfare of America.

At the luncheon, people discussed the possibility of bringing local organizations and schools into their undertaking and selecting a topic for mock U.N. events that would be relevant to residents here. The group is looking to meet again in the near future to flesh out the concept.