Post Classifieds

Vice President of University Relations runs for Mayor

By Andrew Woolford
On April 13, 2011

As Vice President of University Relations, at UB, Mary-Jane Foster's office is responsible for the recent change to the school's website and producing the alumni magazine, Knightline. Foster became an executive at UB in 2009 and since then has brought significant change to how the university interacts with the community of Bridgeport and its organizations. On Jan. 20, 2011 Foster announced filed to form an exploratory committee to potentially run for Mayor of the City of Bridgeport.

Foster, a well known figure around, Bridgeport is most recognized as the co-founder of the Arena at Harbor Yard and adjacent ballpark. The arena and ballpark serves as home to the Bridgeport Bluefish, the Sound Tigers, Fairfield University's men's and women's basketball and also UB Baseball program. Also, the arena is used for several events like the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus and the university's commencement.

Foster stated she feels the need to run now because the current Mayor Bill Finch might not be cutting it.

"I feel like this city is at a crossroad. And we have a mayor who does not understand what he has to do, in terms of managing our budget, managing our finances, spending or not spending money wisely," Foster said. "On the other side of the equation we also have a mayor that is not growing our revenue."

Mayor Finch, back in 2008, had made some unfriendly comments about UB and is known for having qualms since it was bought out by members of the unification church in 1992.

"The current mayor is not a huge fan of the university, and I am, so the university would have a friend in the mayor. And also a person who has worked in development….I understand the needs of the South End and I understand the needs of the university and I would certainly be working not only for the South End and the university but for the entire city," Foster replied, when asked about what being elected would mean for UB and the south end of Bridgeport.

Economic development is the greatest challenge for the city of Bridgeport, which was once a booming force in the industrial age and now is famous for old warehouses, run down factories and boarded up buildings.

In her office on the first floor of Cortright Hall, there is a picture of Foster with former President Clinton, who once said in his campaign run, "It's the economy stupid." Foster coming from a background in business and community relations holds a strong position in ensuring that the City of Bridgeport's economic development be better handled.  

"We need to clean our own house, in order to attract developers," Foster said. "They have to know that the city is being well run, that we are being financially responsible and then we have to develop a marketing plan that really sells our city, that tells people what our assets are and what benefits of coming here are, we don't currently have that."

However, Business is not her only field of expertise. Foster has done various community service work throughout Bridgeport when she moved here 20 years ago. She volunteered as a court advocate, became a certified domestic violence counselor and was appointed to the Mayor's Commission Against Violence in the Home.

"I have loved being here at UB. If I become mayor, I'll be back here a lot; and if I don't become mayor I'll be back here," Foster said. "I enjoy meeting the students. I am always awed and inspired by the work that gets done here by our students….But what I would say to our students here is get involved and don't forget to register and vote."


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