Harvard University has invited Mayor Byron W. Brown to deliver the keynote speech at an annual event at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Harvard typically asks mayors from larger cities to kick off its annual City Fair. In recent years, addresses have been delivered by Richard M. Daley of Chicago, Anthony Williams of Washington, D.C., and Martin O'Malley of Boston.
So why did the prestigious university in Cambridge, Mass., pick Brown, who runs a smaller city and has been in office for less than two months? It stems from Brown's involvement last fall in a university seminar for new mayors.
"We fell in love with him," said Marc Cosentino, director of career services. "We were wowed by him. He was enthusiastic, articulate and passionate."
Peter K. Cutler, Brown's communications chief, said the mayor is "thrilled" to accept the invitation and considers it an honor to deliver Wednesday's opening address.
Harvard is picking up all travel expenses, Cutler added.
The dozen cities that will participate are also being invited to send recruiters to interview graduate students for future employment. Given the hiring freeze in City Hall, Buffalo won't be recruiting. In recent years, the city has been shrinking its payroll.
Cosentino said the fact that there aren't many job prospects in Buffalo's government doesn't undermine Brown's role. Cosentino predicted that once students witness the mayor's "passion," many will be inspired to pursue careers in municipal government. Cutler said Brown plans to bring material prepared by Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, the region's marketing organization, touting the area's attributes.
"The speech is going to be a great opportunity for the mayor to talk about his vision for Buffalo," said Cutler.
City officials want to have the mayor's speech videotaped so it can be aired at a later date on Buffalo's cable public access Government Channel.