Former Emerson trustee resigns from board to become Patrick#039;s transportation secretary, chair of MBTA

by Beacon Staff • February 11, 2009

Emerson Trustee James Aloisi resigned from his board position in early January after being named Governor Deval Patrick's new secretary of transportation, said Vice President of Public Affairs David Rosen.

"The college did not know anything about the Governor's plan to appoint Aloisi until his name appeared in press stories several days before the appointment," he said.

Patrick announced Aloisi as his selection at a press conference in December, according to an article in iThe Boston Globe/i. Aloisi served on Emerson's Board of Trustees for nearly two years, since March 2007.

"Jim brings a deep understanding of the challenges we face in reforming our transportation network," a press release said.

Soon after, Aloisi gave Emerson his resignation on Jan. 9. Soon after, he began his position at the Governor's office.

As the city's Secretary of Transportation, Aloisi will direct the Executive Office of Transportation and Public Works. He will serve as chair of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority governing boards and will continue his membership on the Massport Board of Directors.

Aloisi turned in his letter of resignation to President Jacqueline Liebergott three days before his stint at the State House began.

"As you may already know, I have decided to accept appointment as Secretary of Transportation from Gov. Deval Patrick, effective Jan. 12, 2009. Taking this new path in my life necessitates my resignation from the Board of Emerson College," he said in the letter.

A spokesman for the secretary told The Beacon that Aloisi resigned to avoid any potential conflicts of interest.

Aloisi's history with the transportation industry has been complex. A transportation law specialist, he served as General Counsel to the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, as well as Assistant Secretary of the Executive Office of Transportation, before his most recent position as director of Goulston Storrs law firm, which represents the MBTA. He had been a member of the Massachusetts Transportation Finance Commission, the Transportation Reform Commission, and the Massport Board of Directors.

"Because his law firm represented the MBTA, Jim recused himself from participating in any Board discussions and votes concerning the Silver Line," Rosen said.

For the last year, Emerson has been a notable aggressor against the MBTA's plan to construct a $1.5 billion tunnel that conjoins the two Silver Line routes.

The Silver Line proposal has been the center of controversy for some time; iThe Beacon/i has reported that both Rosen and Liebergott have sent letters protesting the tunnel.

Student Government Association President Scott Fisher said though SGA did not take any official position on the Silver Line proposal, many members worried about the effect the construction project would have on the Emerson campus.

"Some members worried that the subway would damage the foundations of Emerson buildings and others worried that the construction would make the campus look unappealing to prospective students," the junior political communication major said.

MBTA's initiative to drive the Silver Line buses through Boylston Street would connect Roxbury to Chinatown, the South End, the Waterfront, and the Logan International Airport, according to a MBTA outline of the project.

Aloisi said he will miss his position on the board.

"As you know, I am not an Emerson alumnus. My interest in and support for Emerson comes from my firm belief, as a lifelong Bostonian, that this institution is of central and critical importance to the vitality of our city," he said in his letter to Liebergott. "Perhaps when this public service journey of mine is over, I can once again make a tangible contribution to Emerson."

Liebergott sent an e-mail to the other Trustees on Jan. 28, informing them of Aloisi's resignation in keeping with his new public duties.