Michael F. Glavin To Leave the BRA

Michael F. Glavin—who coordinated development work with the Allston community and Harvard for the Boston Redevelopment Authority and whose tenure saw the University’s plans for a science complex in the neighborhood halted due to financial constraints—is leaving the BRA later this month to lead the Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development in Somerville.

Glavin will start his new position on Oct. 17.

Having assumed the post of deputy director for institutional development in July 2007, Glavin leaves after overseeing Harvard’s campus expansion into Allston for more than four years.

During this term, the University’s proposals to the BRA have included plans for building the Allston Science Complex and the Charlesview Apartments next to Brighton Mills Shopping Center.

Most recently, the BRA approved Harvard’s plans to construct Tata Hall, a proposed additional wing in the Harvard Business School that will house classrooms and living accommodations for professionals in the executive education program.


Glavin said that he is proud of being able to provide a “new sense of cohesion” between the BRA, the Allston community, and Harvard.

But he said he was disappointed that the economic crisis put a pause on Allston development. In 2009, Harvard announced that its plans to construct a large science complex in Allston were to be indefinitely halted amid a severe financial downturn.

“I regret that we had to deal with that issue, but I’m excited about the opportunities for the University and the community,” Glavin said.

With Glavin’s role in Allston coming to a close, some residents characterized his four years in the position as an ineffective but well-intentioned tenure.

Glavin “was interested in being a kind of neutral party or umpire,” said Brent Whelan ’73, a member of the Harvard Allston Task Force, a community group. “But he was completely unable to perform that role in a way that was useful to the community, mainly due to the complete unwillingness of Harvard to cooperate in a joint planning venture.”

Whelan recalled the last Task Force meeting on Sept. 28 in which Glavin addressed the plans the BRA recently approved allowing Harvard to move forward with its plan to build Tata Hall. In that meeting, Task Force members said they were frustrated with the lack of support they were receiving from the board of the BRA.

But Glavin said he believes Harvard’s work in Allston could ultimately benefit the neighborhood.

“When Harvard continues to work with the help of the BRA to engage with the community, North Allston will become the envy of the entire country,” Glavin said. “You have a great institution and a solid community that understands that Harvard can be a force for positive change.”

Ray Mellone, chair of the Allston Task Force, said that Glavin was a reliable resource for communicating the neighborhood’s concerns to the BRA.

“He was depended on to get our message back to us from the BRA,” Mellone said. “I thought he had a lot of integrity. He always tried to do what was reasonable.”

—Staff writer Nathalie R. Miraval can be reached at

—Staff writer Rebecca D. Robbins can be reached at