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Paul Parravano, longtime liaison to elected leaders and MIT’s neighbors, dies at 71

Paul Parravano, longtime liaison to elected leaders and MIT’s neighbors, dies at 71



Paul Parravano, who labored for 33 years to construct enduring MIT connections with elected officers and the local people, died at his dwelling in Arlington, Massachusetts on Dec. 9.

Parravano, who was 71, was recognized with pancreatic most cancers shortly after retiring in January from his full-time work as co-director of MIT’s Office of Government and Community Relations — a job that earned him a reference final 12 months because the “Mayor of MIT.”

“‘So, inform me about your self’ was an invite Paul would work into each dialog he had,” says Sarah Eusden Gallop, who served alongside Parravano as co-director for greater than 25 years. “Perhaps he would possibly uncover a mutual love of soccer, a Michigan connection, a ardour for Italian meals, an analogous style in music, or just a shared pleasure in being a mother or father. Paul was masterful in his want and skill to make connections with folks. It was his job to take action, in spite of everything. But he got here at it naturally, with a deep authenticity.”

The son of Italian immigrants, Parravano grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the place his father was a professor of chemical engineering on the University of Michigan. He went on to earn a bachelor’s diploma in political science and authorities from Harvard University and a regulation diploma from Northeastern University. Before becoming a member of MIT, he labored for a number of organizations in assist of particular training and civil rights, using his authorized coaching to help in navigating federal laws.

Parravano joined MIT in 1990 as assistant for presidency and group relations, becoming a member of Gallop in 1997 as co-directors of what’s now the Office of Government and Community Relations. During his 33 years at MIT, he served as a liaison between the Institute and all ranges of presidency and the local people in an effort to foster communication and understanding.

“Everyone who knew Paul additionally knew that his strategy to being a ‘liaison’ was uniquely his personal,” says Gallop, who continues as MIT’s director of presidency and group relations.

At MIT, Parravano labored carefully with public officers, advocacy teams, and nonprofit organizations on the native, state, and nationwide ranges. On behalf of three MIT presidents, he established and took part in common visits with authorities leaders in Washington to assist advance the reason for science and analysis. He organized numerous campus visits for dignitaries, group leaders, and schoolchildren.

“Somehow, he appeared to know everybody, and everybody all over the place knew him,” President Emeritus L. Rafael Reif says. “Paul would prepare the itineraries of our Washington, D.C., journeys with large preparation. We would meet with members of Congress or the administration to debate federal coverage positions impacting science and know-how analysis and better training, and all over the place we went folks would greet Paul warmly. I’ve so many great reminiscences of our visits, full of moments of nice seriousness about nationwide points, shared enjoyment of MIT’s accomplishments, and delightful private interactions. I’ll all the time keep in mind the sight of him strolling down the Infinite Corridor, whistling some Italian tune, because it all the time lifted my spirits.”

Parravano was a robust advocate for analysis and training on the nationwide degree — and was additionally dedicated to offering entry to science, know-how, engineering, and math for younger Cambridge learners. At MIT, he was totally comfy on the earth of science, and would typically staff up with courses to discover developments in assistive know-how and well being care.

“For over 20 years, Paul would come to our classroom and share his life and experiences influenced by retinal most cancers, which brought on him to lose his sight earlier than the age of two,” says David Housman, professor of biology. “His ardour and openness created an important expertise for college students destined to be caregivers as physicians and pioneers in medical analysis. Paul taught them in a memorable method the significance of understanding the medical challenges they’d face from a human perspective. My college students recall a long time later the impression Paul has had on them as they attempt to make a constructive distinction on the earth.”

Unimpeded by bodily boundaries, Parravano diligently sought to enhance his life and the lives of others by serving to make the world extra accessible for these with disabilities. A longtime board member of National Braille Press, he advocated for the larger use of Braille in public areas and on the whole lot from restaurant menus to voting cubicles to utility payments. He turned an knowledgeable at discovering methods to change and use newer applied sciences. 

On campus, Parravano additionally supported participation in voting and elections, served as secretary for MIT’s Community Service Fund, acted as an advocate and a analysis participant within the area of assistive know-how, and was a longtime committee member (and chair) of the Institute’s annual MLK Jr. Celebration.

“Paul was a staple throughout the MLK Celebration Committee and was all the time beloved and revered for all that he did right here at MIT and within the Cambridge group,” says former MIT workers member Zina Queen, who served as co-chair of MIT’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee.

In Cambridge, Parravano attended 1000’s of group occasions, proudly served on many nonprofit boards, promoted assist for native companies by way of MIT’s Community Service Fund, reveled in frequenting native eating places, and was an everyday on the No. 1 bus between MIT and Harvard. His information of the City of Cambridge, and the larger Boston area, impressed many, and his eager curiosity was all the time in attempting to assist others.

“Paul had an ideal fealty to MIT, however was imbued with the love of Cambridge,” former Mayor Kenneth E. Reeves says. “He knew that it was an advanced relationship, however he might stroll the tightrope between the 2 and characterize the most effective of each with honor and integrity. He held a really particular place within the hearts of the residents in Cambridge. I feel he’ll endlessly be there. He’s within the DNA of town now.”

From delivering pastries to election employees at MIT’s polling location to gifting his beloved Michigan-based Sayklly’s candies to colleagues in the course of the holidays, Parravano had an uncanny capacity to acknowledge voices, which was useful to him as a blind particular person. He hardly needed to watch for folks to say their names; he knew who they had been and rapidly greeted them with a private reflection or a humorous remark. He made everybody really feel good, Gallop says.

“Paul wove deep connections between MIT and the bigger world it exists to serve, pushed by his perception on this establishment’s mission and skills,” provides Executive Vice President and Treasurer Glen Shor. “We lengthy loved his good cheer and had been impressed by his private resilience. He leaves a long-lasting legacy of constructive impression.”

For his work in supporting the Cambridge group, Parravano acquired many awards in gratitude for his advocacy, together with the Cambridge NAACP’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the Cambridge Community Center’s Reverend E.Ok. Nichols Founder’s Award.

In June 2022, Parravano turned the inaugural recipient of the MIT Staff Award for Distinction in Service. At the award ceremony, former president Reif referred to Parravano because the “Mayor of MIT.”

Parravano is survived by his spouse, Martha, and by his daughters Emily and Ellie, whom he known as the best items in his life. He can be survived by three brothers and a big prolonged household of nieces, nephews, and cousins each within the U.S. and Italy.

A memorial gathering will likely be held at MIT in early spring 2024. The Parravano household has established the Paul Parravano Memorial Fund at MIT in assist of scholar analysis within the area of assistive know-how.

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