Ceasar L. McDowell, associate professor of practice in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning and director of the MIT Center for Reflective Community Practice, has been named MIT's winner of the 2001 YMCA Black Achiever Award.
The Black Achievers program recognizes African-Americans in the Boston area as well as regions served by 75 other YMCAs around the country. Recipients are selected for their professional accomplishments and their volunteer community service with young people. As part of the program, they agree to commit at least 40 hours with youths in the Black Achievers Community Service Program.
In a letter nominating McDowell for the prestigious award, Professor Bish Sanyal, head of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, described McDowell's contributions to MIT.
"Under McDowell's leadership the Center now provides opportunities for students, faculty and community leaders to collaborate in developing a new approach to community building in a media- and technology-rich world. He has been instrumental in providing opportunities to many of our students for becoming leaders in the emerging fields of community building and information technology," Sanyal wrote.
He also praised McDowell's contributions as a member of the MIT Corporation's Joint Advisory Committee and of the campus Committee on Race Relations. Sanyal particularly noted McDowell's "pivotal role in managing and directing MIT's response to the events of Sept. 11, 2001."
In his letter, Sanyal applauded McDowell's "willingness to stop all that he is doing and make time to listen to and support students and other young people in their efforts to make a difference in this world."
McDowell joined MIT in 1998 as an associate professor and director of the Center for Reflective Community Practice (formerly the Community Fellows Program).
The founder of the Civil Rights Community Policy Forum, McDowell sits on the board of Cambridge Community Television, the Leadership Learning Community and the Algebra Project, Inc.
He grew up in Denver, received the B.A. in sociology from Pacific University in Oregon in 1972 and the Ed.M. (1984) and Ed.D. (1988) from Harvard University. He has taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Boston College and Wheelock College.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 27, 2002.