PLAN 70: Article
J. Mark Schuster (1951 - 2008)

Prominent Expert on Urban Cultural Policy

J. Mark Schuster (PhD'79), a professor of urban studies and planning here since 1978, died February 25 of complications from melanoma. He was 57.

An expert on arts funding policies and a respected leader of First Night and other Boston cultural events, Schuster began his teaching career as a public policy analyst and quickly gained international prominence in cultural policy, helping develop the field and showing how it could be a vital part of city planning practice. He also gained early and steady recognition for his teaching, winning the Graduate Student Council Award for Outstanding Teaching in 1983 and his department's Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2006. From 2003 to 2005, he was also chair of MIT's Committee on the Undergraduate Program.

Schuster was a trustee or board member in numerous arts, cultural and civic organizations including the National Endowment for the Arts, The Publick Theatre and the Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities. In February, he received Special Recognition for Contributions to First Night Boston from First Night International, with which he had been involved for many years.

In a message to alumni and friends, department head Larry Vale recalled: 'Mark held his students - and his colleagues - to the highest possible standards and attention to detail. It was a special pleasure to co-teach with Mark because he knew the perfect balance between total preparedness and willingness to respond to unexpected opportunities. Like many others here at MIT and in our alumni/ae community, I will miss him dearly.'

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to First Night Boston (see

Posted March 2008