This is a content holder for the one button emergency notification system.

A Home for Social Justice

Martin Richard Institute to occupy newly renovated Summer Street building

Whether tutoring at-risk children, striving for racial equity and women’s rights, or building water filters in Cambodia, social justice is at the core of a Bridgewater State University education. For the first time in the institution’s history, this important work now has a permanent home.

During Homecoming weekend, BSU officials cut the ribbon on the newly renovated building just off the Boyden Quadrangle that will house the Martin Richard Institute for Social Justice.

“Yes, we’re dedicating the home, but more importantly we’re dedicating the cause,” said President Frederick W. Clark Jr., ’83. “Advancing social justice means getting involved. It means taking action. It means making a difference.”

The BSU Foundation purchased the home at 161 Summer St., which is located next to Woodward Hall, and work is nearly complete on an extensive renovation that included upgrading HVAC and electrical systems, installing new landscaping and parking, and restoring historic pillars that adorn the front of the building.

The foundation, which is a nonprofit organization separate from but committed to supporting BSU, funded the renovation and purchase entirely through private philanthropy.

“That says a lot about what people believe in,” said Joseph St. Laurent, ’88, chairperson of the foundation. “They don’t want accolades. … They just want to do something for the university and its students.”

The institute is named for the youngest victim of the Boston Marathon bombings. Student justice fellows, such as Joanne Tanaka, ’24, are still inspired by Martin’s message of “No more hurting people. Peace.”

“This new building dedicated to social justice embodies his message and the commitment our community has toward creating a more just and peaceful society,” said Joanne, whose service activities included reading multicultural books to children over Zoom during the pandemic.

Martin’s sister, Jane, cut the ribbon alongside parents, Bill and Denise, both members of the Class of 1993.

The home, Bill said, provides a prominent physical location for this essential work of helping and standing up for others.

“We love you,” he said. “We appreciate you. We thank you. … Having a home matters.”

Martin’s legacy, Joanne said, will be carried on by the BSU community “and every person we touch through our words and actions for the rest of our lives.”

Do you have a BSU story you'd like to share? Email