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Fall 2011 Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Visiting Professor: Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, NJ

Release date: October 12, 2011

Cory Booker—the dynamic and innovative mayor of Newark, New Jersey, and African American trailblazer—will present a talk titled "How to Change the World With Your Bare Hands" on Wednesday, October 12, at 8 p.m. in Kraushaar Auditorium. Booker is appearing as Goucher College's Fall 2011 Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Visiting Professor.

This talk is free and open to the public, but tickets must be reserved in advance at www.goucher.edu/tickets. For more information, contact the Box Office at 410-337-6333.

Unconventional in his approach, Booker is a rising African-American politician who has been called a representative of a new generation of pragmatic urban leaders, someone who is defined more by his actions than by his words.

In 2006, while still in his thirties, Booker was elected mayor of Newark, New Jersey's largest city. After earning degrees from Stanford University and Oxford University, where was a Rhodes Scholar, Booker moved to Newark during his final year at Yale Law School. He was graduated in 1997 and served as staff attorney for the Urban Justice Center in New York and program coordinator of the Newark Youth Project.

In 1998, Booker ran for election to the Newark Municipal Council and won an upset victory, beating four-term incumbent George Branch. Once on the council, Booker proved to be a unique public official. In 1999, he went on a 10-day hunger strike while living in a tent in front of one of Newark's public housing projects to protest open-air drug dealing and the associated violence. The effort resulted in increased police presence and improved security for residents. For five months in 2000, he lived in a motor home and parked it on the worst drug corners in the city to inspire residents and businesses to fight against drug dealing and crime.

He also proposed a variety of council initiatives that impacted housing, young people, law and order, and the efficiency and transparency of City Hall, and he became an outspoken advocate of education reform.

In 2002, rather than run for re-election as councilman, Booker decided to run for mayor of Newark against longtime mayor Sharpe James. Booker was defeated, 53 percent to 47 percent.

As expected, however, he again ran for mayor in 2006; this time Booker won with 72 percent of the vote. He easily won re-election last May.

During Booker's tenure as mayor, his city has seen a significant reduction in crime. As of July 2008, Newark led the nation among large cities for reductions in shootings and murders, achieving decreases of more than 40 percent in both categories. Newark is also drastically reducing crime following the deployment of more than 100 surveillance cameras throughout the city.

Newark, under Booker's guidance, has also doubled affordable housing production and has committed $40 million to transforming the city's parks and playgrounds through a public/private partnership. In September 2010, the city regained control of its public schools, which had been in the hands of the state for 15 years.

Additionally, the Booker administration has slashed the city budget and attracted more than $100 million in private philanthropy.

Booker's ultimate mandate is to make Newark the national standard for urban transformation.

For his work thus far, he has been recognized in numerous publications, including TIME, Esquire, Black Enterprise, and The New York Times Magazine.