The event, which marked the first time in University history that a school has been named for a member of the Society of Jesus, followed a $5 million gift to BC from Katharine B. and Robert M. Devlin in Fr. Woods' honor. Bob Devlin was a former student of Fr. Woods at Cranwell Preparatory School in Lenox, Mass., and two of the Devlins' sons, Michael '88 and Matthew '90, attended CAS, then known as the Evening College.
Fr. Woods, who took over the reins of the Evening College in 1968, is the longest serving dean in University history.
"The individual who has for decades now been the heart of the College of Advancing Studies is Fr. Woods," University President William P. Leahy, SJ, told the audience of nearly 1,000 alumni, friends, students and colleagues of Fr. Woods who filled Robsham for the ceremony. "Today we celebrate the gift that Fr. Woods has given to Boston College and to generations of students.
Rev. James A. Woods, SJ, accepts congratulations after the May 10 ceremony at which the College of Advancing Studies - where he has served as dean for 34 years - was dedicated in his name, thanks to a $5 million gift from Katharine and Robert Devlin. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)
"His confidence in his students has enabled so many to believe in themselves and then go on and build the foundation for future accomplishments and happiness in their own lives," Fr. Leahy said. "We celebrate the commitment of the Devlin family, whose generosity will make it possible for so many in years ahead to attain a degree from Boston College."
Bob Devlin, chairman of Curragh Capital Partners and former chairman and CEO of American General Insurance Corp., said his family's gift "provides an opportunity for those individuals who may have a different way of learning, for those who may not have the resources to go to school full-time, or for those who may have family circumstances that don't provide the opportunities to go to school the way others students go to school.
"I think that when we reflect about what has been built here at Boston College, it is really tremendous and a real tribute to Fr. Woods," he said.
Expressing thanks for the gift in his honor, Fr. Woods said, "The Devlin family's vision and their hard work gives impetus and depth to this dynamic learning community - one that truly cares about each individual learner, one that encourages and supports a self-confidence rooted in competence and understanding of self.
"The strength I draw from being part of something so worthwhile daily restores, invites me to grow and reminds me that the people who are part of my life are the reason," said Fr. Woods, delivering one of his trademark phrases, "each day 'couldn't be better.'"
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