Ben Downing Taught Politics On the Side Before Running for Governor

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Before he was a candidate for governor in Massachusetts, he was a state senator — and taught at a public college for two years.

Benjamin Downing, a Democrat who lived in Pittsfield at the time but in East Boston now, served as a member of the Massachusetts Legislature from 2007 to 2016. Towards the end of his tenure, he started taking up teaching jobs, making a few thousand dollars to teach a course.

In the fall 2014 and fall 2015 semesters, Downing taught a class at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams called “Politics & Policies in Practice.” (The school was known as North Adams State College before 1997.)

NewBostonPost obtained records from the college that show he was a Visiting Lecturer in the fall of 2014 and received $3,000 for his services. The following year, in the fall of 2015, he was a Visiting Instructor and received a pay raise. The school paid him $3,711 to teach the class.

NewBostonPost obtained his two teaching contracts with the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts via a public records request. They are available at the following links on the NewBostonPost web site:

Benjamin Downing part-time contract 2014

Bemjamin Downing part-time contract 2015

How did he do?

The school told NewBostonPost on Monday that his performance evaluations fall under the privacy exemption of Massachusetts Public Records Law. Of this information as well as his job application, the school told NewBostonPost in a statement:  “these documents are used by the College to make employment decisions regarding the employee and are sufficiently personal in nature.”

After teaching at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Downing served as an adjunct professor at Tufts University each spring semester from 2016 to 2020. He taught a class called “Topics in American Politics:  Massachusetts Government Internships,” according to the Tufts web site.

Here’s a description of the course, from the Tufts web site:


PS 118-02: Special Topics in American Politics: Massachusetts Government Internships Benjamin Downing Students will be placed in one of a dozen State House offices — for a legislator, committee, in the governor’s office, or for an executive branch agency — to serve in a policy-focused internship. These experiences will be supplemented with a class built around discussion of shared experiences, as well as on the interplay between policy and politics. The primary goal is for students to develop real world skills and a deeper understanding of how politics and policy intersect to create law, regulatory programs, and social change.


The class was previously called Massachusetts State Government: Learning While Doing, as a spokesman for Tufts University told NewBostonPost on Thursday, March 11. The course description for that one was the same.

The average class size for Downing at Tufts was 13 students, the spokesman confirmed. The spokesman also said that salary information at Tufts University, which is a private school, is confidential.

Downing may not be the only college teacher in the Massachusetts gubernatorial race. Fellow Democrat and Harvard professor Danielle Allen is also exploring a run, as NewBostonPost has previously reported.

No one on the Republican side has formally announced a run yet.

Downing could not be reached for comment earlier this week.