Funds Targeted for Academics Grew by $6 Million in 1997-98

(5-7-98) -- Boston College increased its commitment to support academic programs, faculty expansion and resources, and student-centered initiatives by about $6 million during the first year of a major investment in the University's academic enterprise.

Administrators say these expenditures will result in increased numbers of students taught by full-time faculty and more support for graduate students. Additional funding also has enhanced faculty, departmental and program resources in the College of Arts and Sciences, the Carroll School of Management, the Graduate School of Social Work, the Law School and the School of Education, while increasing academic support and student life programs for undergraduate and graduate students.

The $6 million outlay represents the initial phase of a five-year, $260 million project, announced last September by University President William P. Leahy, SJ, that also includes capital expenditures for new academic buildings. Based on recommendations by the University Academic Planning Council, the project is being implemented by a committee chaired by Fr. Leahy and coordinated by Associate Academic Vice President Robert Newton.

"The implementation of these initiatives is enabling Boston College to fulfill in concrete ways its academic aspirations," said Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties William B. Neenan, SJ. "A principal focus of the project, the strengthening of faculty, is particularly noteworthy. Academic quality is measured in a number of ways, but the coin of the realm is the quality of the faculty who are directly involved in the teaching, research and other scholarly activity."

Newton described the pattern of the past year's funding in terms of the project's major priorities. "We started with the broad goals set forth by the UAPC," he said. "We then set more concrete objectives, and finally, translated those objectives into specific targets and dollar allocations. We have moved forward in three areas - faculty initiatives, targeted programs and student-centered initiatives - over the last several months, and there has been significant progress."

According to Newton, the University has devoted about $4 million to support targeted academic programs by expanding faculty resources, offering graduate students more financial support, and improving overall infrastructure support. The funding also furnished supplemental support for three endowed chairs in CSOM, and established two permanent visiting Law School professorships and two SOE faculty positions.

A major goal in the implementation plan's faculty initiatives, Newton said, is to reduce reliance on part-time faculty, especially in undergraduate instruction. The funding enabled the University to add four new faculty positions in the Philosophy Department; two each in the A&S Honors Program and the English, Fine Arts, Physics, Romance Languages and Theology departments; and one each in Economics, Theater, Communication, Mathematics and Chemistry. In addition, four new full-time faculty positions have been established in GSSW. Newton said more full-time faculty likely will be added in those departments with larger percentages of part-time faculty.

Additional objectives for faculty included a greater focus on technology in instruction, such as enhancing the BC cable network and expanding audiovisual project support, as well as hiring a consultant to assist faculty in utilizing information technology for research. Also, ongoing support continued for the Center for Ignatian Spirituality and for University efforts to pursue American Research Library membership.

The remaining expenditures in the first implementation phase included about $1.2 million to benefit students directly, Newton said, through measures such as the expansion of the Presidential Scholars and Undergraduate Research Fellows programs, and efforts in AHANA student recruitment and fellowship support. The student-centered initiatives include provisions for strengthening international study and establishing pilot cornerstone advisement seminars in A&S aimed at introducing freshmen to the University's intellectual and spiritual life.

Newton said future initiatives would likely address additional UAPC objectives, such as faculty hiring criteria, research endowment and learning outcome assessments. Other measures will include the establishment of a student formation council and related student life objectives, such as introducing a greater adult presence in residence halls, exploring retreat opportunities and forming Christian life communities on campus.

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