Symbols of Faculty Excellence

Symbols of Faculty Excellence

University adds to its roster of endowed academic chairs

By Reid Oslin Staff Writer

Newly-established professorships honoring Newton College alumnae, and a Boston College graduate who died in the World Trade Center attack last September, are among six endowed faculty chair appointments announced recently by Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties John J. Neuhauser.

(L-R) Andrew Hargreaves, Judith Wilt, M. Shawn Copeland and Richard Kearney are among the University's recently appointed endowed chairholders. (Photo by Justin Knight)
"The main purpose of these academic chairs is to bring a different character to the Boston College faculty," said Neuhauser. "Endowing academic chairs is one of the largest pieces of the 'Ever to Excel' campaign.

"These chairs not only allow us to retain and honor some very good current faculty members, but also enable us to recruit new faculty members who perhaps would not come to Boston College without an endowed position."

Prof. Judith Wilt (English) is inaugural holder of the Newton College Alumnae Professorship in Western Culture, established by graduates of Newton College of the Sacred Heart to honor the legacy of the school's educational tradition at Boston College. Newton College merged with BC in 1975.

Wilt, who joined the Boston College faculty in 1978, specializes in 19th and 20th-century British fiction and Victorian literature. She was also a founding director of the Women's Studies Program at Boston College, focusing on feminism, popular culture, religion and literature.

"I'm really excited to see Boston College mark in this lasting way both the importance of Newton College of the Sacred Heart in the history of women's education, and the continuing importance of its alumnae to BC," Wilt said.

Albert Beaton
(Photo by Gary Gilbert)
"Clearly, the alumnae who have always kept a distinct identity, and who read books and do programs and eventually raised money together, are also a lively and distinguished group and I'm delighted to be linked to them through the chair," she said.

Andrew Hargreaves, formerly co-director and professor at the International Centre for Educational Change at the University of Toronto, has been appointed Thomas More Brennan Professor of Education.

The Brennan Chair has been renamed in honor of Thomas More Brennan '91, who was killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York City. The Brennan family had originally established the chair at the Lynch School of Education in honor of Alice V. Brennan, Thomas' mother.

Hargreaves' research on education reform has earned him recognition in the United States as well as Canada. His 1995 book, Changing Teachers, Changing Times was chosen by the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education as the publication most likely to have an effect on the education of teachers. In 2000, he received the Canada Education Association's Whitworth Award for outstanding contributions to educational research in that country.

Also at the Lynch School, Albert E. Beaton has been named inaugural Augustus C. Long Distinguished Professor, named for a former member of the Theology Department. The chair was first established in 1962 by a gift from the Brookdale Foundation and activated this year.

James Gips
Beaton, who taught at Boston College in 1960-61 and rejoined the faculty in 1990, has for the past nine years been director of the University-based Third International Math and Science Study. TIMSS is the largest international testing study ever undertaken, involving 45 countries, five grades, two school subjects and more than half a million students.

Beaton said that he was honored to receive the Long Chair appointment. "For my entire career I have worked to make educational tests more accurate and more useful for students, teachers and educational policy-makers," he said. "It is indeed an honor that my work has been recognized by my own University."

James Gips, a Carroll School of Management faculty member since 1976, has been appointed inaugural holder of the Jack and Pamela Egan Chair for Computer Science. The chair was established with a $2 million gift from former Gips student Jack Egan '79 and his wife Pamela Egan. It is the first endowed position in the Computer Science Department.

In addition to his teaching, Gips has helped to develop the "EagleEyes" technology that allows a person to control a computer through electrodes by moving his or her eyes or head. The EagleEyes technology has been refined to allow children who have multiple disabilities to use a computer for education and communication [see related story above].

"The day I interviewed for a BC faculty position 26 years ago, it was apparent that the professors took a personal interest in the students," Gips said.

"I have interacted with thousands of students over the years, and it is gratifying to know that this very core value that brought me here is what led to the establishment of this professorship."

Prof. Richard Kearney (Philosophy) has been appointed inaugural holder of the Charles B. Seelig Sr. Chair, founded by a gift from Charles B. "Chip" Seelig Jr. '77.

"I'm honored, flattered and delighted," said Kearney, who previously held a chair in philosophy and filmmaking at the University of Dublin, and was a visiting professor at BC for 16 years until he joined the faculty in 2001-02.

Kearney recalled meeting Seelig on the BC campus. "I had not met him before, and although he had spent most of his career in the financial industry, he had just started a new company in New York devoted to storytelling and filmmaking. We hit it off right away."

M. Shawn Copeland has been appointed to the Joseph Chair in Catholic Theology, a visiting professorship begun in 1995 that is filled every other academic year.

Copeland is an associate professor of theology at Marquette University and is an adjunct professor of systemic theology at the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University in Louisiana. She is recognized as an influential scholar on issues regarding African-American Catholics.

She also serves as convenor of the Black Catholic Theological Symposium and is vice president of the Catholic Theological Society of America.

Last March, the University appointed Political Science chairwoman Prof. Kay Schlozman as inaugural holder of the J. Joseph Moakley Chair in Political Science, a professorship established in honor of the long-time Massachusetts congressman who died in 2001.


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