CommonWealth Magazine, May 2022
When Robert Deleo resigned as speaker of the Massachusetts House a year and a half ago and took an academic position at Northeastern University, his life changed dramatically. At the State House, he occupied a palatial suite on the third floor adorned with pictures of all his predecessors. At Northeastern, he works out of a tiny office a short walk from campus with room only for a desk, chair, and small coffee table.
On Beacon Hill, as one of the most powerful people in state government, he wielded enormous clout over an institution charged with creating the laws of the Commonwealth. At Northeastern, his days involve giving guest lectures to various classes, offering career advice to freshmen, and arranging guest speakers.
His move to Northeastern has also brought the 72-year-old DeLeo into the 21st century in ways beyond just spending lots of time with young people who were born at its start. At the State House, DeLeo routinely had a staff member print out his emails each evening. He would take them home and write handwritten instructions in the evening on how each one should be handled. Now DeLeo retrieves, writes, and sends his own email, marveling at how ubiquitous the communication method is. “There’s a road closed on campus, I’ll get an email,” DeLeo exclaimed.