Fr. Fulton came from a prominent family in Alexandria, Va., and as a young man aspired to a military career. While studying at Georgetown College, he felt the call to become a Jesuit. As a seminarian, he taught philosophy, poetry, rhetoric, and theology at Georgetown, Holy Cross, and several other institutions and was acclaimed as a gifted teacher and intellectual.
Named Boston College’s first prefect of studies, or dean, in 1864, Fr. Fulton set high standards for the faculty and curriculum, despite the school’s limited resources and low enrollment. He also embarked on a public relations campaign, promoting the value and quality of Jesuit higher education at every chance. He retained his role as dean when he assumed the presidency of Boston College in 1870, continuing to develop a comprehensive, rigorous classical program of study. Under his leadership, the academic enterprise matured, with BC granting its first degrees in 1877.
As president, Fr. Fulton embarked on an ambitious program of expanding the college buildings as well as further solidifying the College’s financial position. When he departed in 1880, enrollment had risen to 250, and Boston College was well established. Asked to take up his presidential role again eight years later, he once again enlarged the campus and also launched the secondary program that would later become Boston College High School.
Charismatic and meticulous, Fr. Fulton vested Boston College with the commitment to excellence enshrined in its motto, “Ever to Excel.”