Founded on December 15, 1983 as the Center for Policy Analysis (CFPA),  the Public Policy Center has been a source of timely policy relevant research and technical assistance for over 30 years. The Center’s first Director was Dr. Toby Huff, a Professor in the Southeastern Massachusetts University Department of Sociology,  who led the Center for its first four years.  Dr. Huff was succeeded by Economics Professor Mona Racine who led the Center until her untimely death in 1989.

Following a four-year period during which the Center was not operational, in 1992 Political Science Professor Clyde W. Barrow was appointed Director, a role in which he served until he joined the faculty of the University of Texas-Pan American in the summer of 2014. During his 22 year tenure, the CFPA evolved into Southeastern Massachusetts’ leading policy research organization and, under Professor Barrow’s leadership, became a leading source of insight and expertise on the gaming industry.

In 2007, the CFPA established the UMass Dartmouth Urban Initiative, a program that was founded by former Fall River Mayor Edward Lambert. Since its founding, the Urban Initiative has been an increasingly influential voice in regional and statewide policy discussions, particularly those that concern the unique challenges and opportunities confronting the Commonwealth’s “Gateway Cities”.

In July of 2014, Public Policy Professor Michael Goodman was appointed CFPA Director and charged with revisiting its mission, structure, and operating practices. Following an internal planning process, in the fall of 2014, a number of major changes were made including changing the name of the Center. These changes were designed to build upon the tradition of excellence that has characterized the Center’s work for over three decades and to align the Center’s organizational structure with its renewed mission and strategic goals.