LOWELL -- In honor of the legacy of global humanitarianism left behind by the late Congressman F. Bradford Morse, UMass Lowell yesterday announced a $1 million endowment campaign in his name to promote the study of international affairs.
University officials and friends who knew Morse said the endowment is a fitting tribute for a man who grew up in Centralville and went on to represent Lowell in the House of Representative before joining the United Nations.
"I think that it's very innovative on the part of UMass Lowell to tell something about his life," said Morse's widow, Josephine, who now lives in Naples, Fla. "He was a son of Lowell, and it demonstrates how Lowell framed him in his early days."
The F. Bradford Morse Endowment for the Study of International Relations, Sustainable Development and Peace will fund an annual lecture series on global issues and support the University's International Relations program.
It will also support the college's model United Nations program for students and go toward expanding a similar program started last year for high-school students in the community.
The campaign aims to raise $1 million in five years, and already includes $65,000 donated almost entirely by professors Dean Bergeron and Joyce Denning.
Bergeron, who started the model United Nations program 20 years ago, teamed with Denning in 1996 to create a fund for students to pursue creative academic projects.
The Denberg Fund, as it was called, has now become the seed money for F. Bradford Morse endowment.
"Our students, many of them first-generation college, didn't see themselves as being able to compete or be in a position where they could achieve the kind of goals they've achieved," Bergeron said. "I wanted to make sure programs like these continued and were expanded. Brad had a logical connection to these issues."
After serving in World War II, Morse returned home and earned his bachelor's and law degrees from Boston University.
He began his political career on the Lowell City Council and was later appointed by President Dwight Eisenhower as the deputy administrator of Veterans Affairs.
In 1960, he successfully ran for congress as a progressive Republican from Lowell and served 12 years in the U.S. House of Representatives.
"That's when this kid who grew up across the bridge in Centralville and worked as an usher in a downtown theater really set a pace for himself," said Bob Hatem, a friend who worked for Morse in Washington as a legislative assistant.
Hatem called Morse a true "statesman" who crossed partisan lines in Washington to work toward his vision of the future for the country and the world.
Morse left Congress in 1972 for a post in the United Nations as undersecretary general, the highest-ranking American in the assembly.
As director of the UN Development Program, he championed peace and fought to combat world poverty and hunger.
"(The endowment) is a combination of who Brad Morse was and the fact that we are really focusing on international issues and perspectives for our students," said UML Provost John Wooding. "The world is changing very, very rapidly, and it will affect what our students choose for their studies and careers."
Middlesex Community College has also spearheaded an effort to rename the Federal Building in downtown Lowell after Morse.
Nicola Tsongas, widow of the late Sen. Paul Tsongas, said she first met her husband when he was working in Morse's Washington office.
"Paul took to heart a lot of the way Brad thought about international issues. What I really remember is Paul's great affection for him," said Tsongas, dean of external affairs for Middlesex.
Tsongas said there could be a ceremony to rename the Federal Building sometime in the spring at the end of the school year.
Josephine Morse, who worked at the United Nations with her husband, said she and her daughter are "enormously pleased" by the endowment. It is a fitting tribute for a man who cared deeply about the world, she said.
"We live in a global world today, and if we don't understand other cultures and religions, we won't get very far," she said.