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William Gross citation

Citation to the 2019 Honorary Degree Recipient
Commissioner William Gross


Presented by Kelly-Anne DeFao, J.D.
Assistant Professor of Sociology and Political Science  

 May 19th, 2019


Commissioner William Gross is the 42nd Police Commissioner of the City of Boston, and the first African American to hold that position. He has been serving the people of Boston for 36 years, beginning in 1983 when he graduated from the Boston Police Academy. He spent many years in his early career as a patrol officer. Rising quickly through the ranks, Commissioner Gross has always kept a close connection with members of the community he serves. He has demonstrated a relentless commitment to community work – through various initiatives like the Youth Violence Strike Force and the Drug Control Unit. These and other initiatives led by Commissioner Gross continue to have a positive impact on the neighborhoods of many of our Pine Manor College students, over 25% percent of whom are graduates of the Boston Public Schools.

At his swearing in on August 6, 2018, Commissioner Gross proclaimed, “Delivering and building on our community policing model is one of my main priorities. We will work collaboratively to reduce crime and violence in our neighborhoods while supporting and lifting up our youth.”

He has been awarded numerous Departmental awards for bravery and meritorious service and several Governor’s Citations; the Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award; the United States Attorney’s Boston Offices’ award For Outstanding Dedicated Service to the Survivors of the Boston Marathon Bombing; the Department of Justice Investigative Achievement Award and he was named one of Boston’s 100 Most Influential People of Color.

Commissioner Gross is affiliated with groups that expand his advocacy beyond the city limits of Boston, such as the Massachusetts Major Cities Chiefs Association, and the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company and the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. of eastern Massachusetts. He also sits on the advisory boards for the Boston Center for Youth and Families, the George Lewis Ruffin Society, and the Special Olympics of Massachusetts.

Beyond his outstanding professional achievements, Commissioner Gross is known for his ability to foster relationships and to see the best in people. He firmly believes that “if you want change, you have to be the change.” These words have guided Commissioner Gross throughout a stellar career devoted to promoting equity and social justice for all in our communities. To that end, Commissioner Gross’s actions and values align with those of the caring community of Pine Manor College.

Pine Manor College is proud today to have him join our community with the award of this honorary degree.

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