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Now Working in the Mayor’s Office, Former Lecturer Reflects on Time at Harvard

By Conor J. Reilley and Zohra D. Yaqhubi, Crimson Staff Writers

Nearly two months after he left his position as a lecturer in the Department of History and Literature to become the speechwriter for newly elected Boston Mayor Marty J. Walsh, Eoin F. Cannon ’95 said that he misses his time at Harvard but plans to stay at his post for the duration of Walsh’s term.

The transition from academia to government was not abrupt for Cannon, who began volunteering for the Walsh campaign in May 2013 after publishing a book entitled “The Saloon and The Mission.”

“I hadn’t started my next project yet, and was trying to figure out what my next step would be around the time that the mayoral season started up,” Cannon said.

Cannon, who has been a Dorchester resident for 17 years, said he already had a particular affinity for Walsh even before he became mayor.

“Mayor Walsh had been my state representative since he ran for office in 1997, and I had always been a huge admirer for his politics [and] as a person,” Cannon said. “I had always been a political junkie and a great lover of the city of Boston, so I got involved with the campaign as a volunteer, helping with whatever writing projects he needed.”

As the mayoral season heated up, Cannon found that his “scholarship side had been displaced by this interest in politics and elections.” When Walsh was elected to the mayor’s office, Cannon helped write his inaugural speech. It was also around this time that Cannon informed Harvard’s History and Literature department that he was going to seek a more permanent position on Mayor Walsh’s team. By mid-February, Cannon was hired as Walsh’s speechwriter.

“We already knew his product of work from his volunteering on the campaign, and we could see him fitting in with the team.  We asked him to write us a few speeches on a variety of different topics and he really knocked those out of the park,” Daniel A. Koh ’07, Walsh’s chief of staff, said.

Reflecting on his time as a part of the History and Literature department, Cannon said he is “hard-pressed” to decide whether he misses his colleagues or students more.

“[The Hist and Lit department] is an intensely satisfying place to work and teach. I’ve learned more from students in Hist and Lit than sometimes from anyone else in recent years,” he said.

Cannon’s former students said they remember him as a thoughtful teacher and adviser, and applaud his efforts in his new appointment.

“I’m sure he’s great in the mayor’s office.  I think that as a scholar of American History and Literature he has a developed sense of the traditional political rhetoric of Boston, and how things need to be said in order for the mayor to be effective,” said Leah Reis-Dennis ’13, who took Cannon’s History and Literature tutorial.

Although Cannon calls himself a “scholar and teacher at heart,” he said he does not see himself leaving his position before the end of Walsh’s term.

“I’d love to go back to the classroom someday, informed by what I’ve been doing in government,” Cannon said.

—Staff writer Conor J. Reilley can be reached at

—Staff writer Zohra D. Yaqhubi can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @zohradyaqhubi.

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