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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

David Cash Joins McCormack Grad School as New Dean


David Cash is the new Dean of the McCormack Graduate School.

On July 21 the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies welcomed its new dean David Cash. He brings to the job an eclectic background in science education, and many years working in the public sector, recently in the capacity of commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Cash succeeds interim dean Ira Jackson, who moves on to another position within the administration.

Cash says he did not foresee switching to a job in academia, because he loved the impact of state government. He says he changed his mind when he read the job description.

“UMass Boston, and the McCormack Graduate School in particular, have this vision of linking research to on-the-ground practice in a way that very few academic institutions have,” he says.

The McCormack Graduate School has a reputation for value-driven research and interdisciplinary education, and in its programs places an emphasis on justice, innovative governance, and sustainable policies for people and the planet alike. For example, Conflict Resolution grads might go to Ecuador to work with local organizations and conflict-affected people. The department for gerontology (the study of aging) has produced more PhDs of its kind than any other program in the world.

“[This job felt like] something that tied together the different strands of my career,” he says.
Cash earned a B.A. in Biology from Yale University and a MAT in science education from Lewis & Clark College. For his PhD in public policy from Harvard University, he studied how science education can inform civic actions. His professional experience spans the same areas as his schooling. He taught in the Amherst public school system and has worked in Massachusetts government for over ten years. Concepts he implemented under Governor Deval Patrick lead Massachusetts to the status of number one state in energy efficiency, and saved billions of dollars for its residents. Also, one interesting fact is that he once worked as a sheepherder at a ranch in Oregon.

Cash intends to keep research-informed decision making a priority at the McCormack Graduate School. He also aims to improve how the various centers and institutes collaborate with each other and with academic departments. McCormack Graduate School has 11 of these organizations, including the Center for Governance and Sustainability, the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. They are the sites of research into issues affecting policy, and provide students with jobs and possible dissertation data. 

“I do have a leadership role here, but also part of my philosophy is to help open doors for their leadership­––to work with them to design a school that better advances their research interests, teaching interests, and the hopes that students have.”

Former McCormack Dean Ira Jackson now holds the position of Vice Provost for Economic Planning/Resources and Special Projects. In this capacity he assists the provost in linking the university’s intellectual and financial resources to external partners. For example, he acts as a liaison to the JFK Presidential Library and the Edward M Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate. This spring he will teach an Honor’s College course called “Becoming a Leader,” open to all undergraduates.