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May 27, 2004 • Volume 12 Number 18

Among the administrators, faculty and staff retiring this year are (left) Custodian Eduardo Pacheco and Senior Development Officer James McGahay (below). (Photos by Lee Pellegrini)

'There Will Be Tears In My Eyes'

Three retirees look back on years of growth and change at BC

By Reid Oslin
Staff Writer

The 20 employees retiring from Boston College this year have witnessed and contributed to an unparalleled era of growth and achievement in the University's long history.

This group of retirees, along with 34 other faculty, staff and administrators who are celebrating 25 years of employment at Boston College, will be honored tonight at a special dinner and awards ceremony hosted by University President William P. Leahy, SJ, in the Heights Room of the Lower Campus Dining Hall. The event also includes the presentation of the Community Service Award [see story].

The University's rise to success is well reflected in the memories of three retiring employees, Boisi Professor in Education and Public Policy George F. Madaus, Senior Development Officer James G. McGahay, and Custodian Eduardo Pacheco, who together represent more than 85 years of service to Boston College.

Madaus finished his doctoral work in education at Boston College in 1965 and decided to do another year of post-doctoral research at the University of Chicago. At the conclusion of his post-doctoral term, each school offered him a faculty position. He chose Boston College.

"It was a no-brainer," said Madaus, who has taught testing and measurement courses and worked with school systems on evaluation methods for the past 38 years, also serving as a senior staff member of the Lynch School of Education's Center for the Study of Testing, Evaluation and Educational Policy since its inception in 1980.

Five years into his teaching career, however, Madaus was not sure that he had made the right choice, he admits. While working on a two-year project in Ireland, he followed reports of BC's mounting financial difficulties with some alarm. "I didn't know if I was going to have a place to come back to. I was thinking maybe I should have taken that job in Chicago."

Things changed when Rev. J. Donald Monan, SJ, became University President in 1972, Madaus says, and Boston College began a growth spurt that still hasn't stopped.

"I don't know how many buildings I have watched go up: Conte Forum, O'Neill Library, the dormitories," Madaus said. "And it's just not the construction, but it's the grounds and the maintenance of existing buildings. It's just not something that you have seen at a lot of other colleges and universities.

"The other big change is the student population, both undergraduate and graduate. The quality of the students has gone up. The graduate programs in education are much, much stronger than they were when I was a student here.

"The undergraduate situation is really good too. We are getting some terrific kids. The caveat is that we are not educating the kinds of kids that come from immigrant families anymore. That has changed.

"We have truly become a national university. There's no question about that."

Madaus, who along with his wife Ann are the parents of six children, all BC grads, expects family matters to keep him busy in his retirement years. "I've got a couple of books that I would like to work on. Maybe in second semester, I'll start to audit some courses in the Theology Department.

"If they'll let me," he added with a laugh.

McGahay, retiring after 32 years of service in the University's alumni, public relations and development offices, graduated from the School of Education in 1963, the year of Boston College's Centennial celebration highlighted by the April visit of President John F. Kennedy at a campus-wide convocation.

He describes his role in the Development Office, where he has worked since 1982, as that of "a utility player, focused mainly on writing and editing kinds of projects, special committee assignments and things of that nature."

But McGahay is best known for crafting the citations on the honorary degrees that Boston College presents each year. For the past 23 years, his eloquent yet concise wording has graced the citations presented to dozens of the world's top academicians, religious, business and government leaders and other distinguished luminaries.

He joined the Alumni Association staff in 1970 and spent six years as assistant director, followed by four years on the University public relations staff. After working for two years for the Jimmy Fund in Boston, then-Vice President for Development James P. McIntyre summoned him back to campus to oversee fund-raising efforts with corporations and foundations.

It was a "no-brainer" for Boisi Professor George Madaus to accept a teaching position at BC, and he's never regretted the decision in his 38 years at the Heights.

"It's very satisfying to look back and see just how far the University has come," he said, "yet remaning the same kind of institution through all the change: a faith-centered, Jesuit institution, with a real community and familial culture.

"With this type of growth, there is always the worry 'Will we lose that?' As far as I can see, even with all of the changes that have taken place over these decades, that culture still remains intact. From a fund-raising point of view, that's terribly important because that is the heart of our case: our Jesuit past, mission and tradition.

"What I have witnessed is a combination of change and continuity," he said.

McGahay, who is married to former LSOE Dean and Prof. Mary Griffin, looks forward to his retirement. "My first thought is 'Where does the time go?'" he said. "I never really had a time here when I haven't been happy in my work. I have been very fortunate in working with and for people who allowed me to grow and use my best skills in a way that served the University.

"I am totally satisfied. To have been part of this most exciting era in the history of BC has been a real privilege."

Before coming to Boston College, Eduardo Pacheco worked for 22 years in a textile mill in his hometown of New Bedford before it went out of business in 1984.

For the next three years, Pacheco worked at temporary jobs with minimum pay, struggling to make ends meet for his family. "Our financial situation was very bad," he recalled. "We had just bought a house before the mill closed and my wife became sick and couldn't work."

Then, almost 17 years ago, Pacheco found employment as a custodian at Boston College - and "an answer to our prayers." Although it meant a 62-mile, 90-minute commute each way to and from New Bedford, "the job was well worth the sacrifice."

Pacheco was originally assigned to maintain the 12 houses along College Road, a hefty assignment for one person. "One day [Vice President for Administration John T. Driscoll] asked me how I was doing. After we spoke, I only had to do seven houses from that day on."

Pacheco is also a Roman Catholic deacon in his home parish, Our Lady of the Assumption, where he teaches, counsels and helps administer the sacraments to the area's large Cape Verde population.

"When I was ordained, I knew that I had to keep working at BC," he said. "I understood that I wouldn't be able to do everything I needed to do as a deacon. Now, I will be able to become more involved in the church. This is the right time for me to retire.

"The Church is run by missionaries, and I feel like I am a missionary, too. The Church and Jesus are more important than the money."

As he prepares to undertake his new calling, Pacheco looks back fondly at his days at BC. "Some people are never pleased in their jobs, some complain all the time. There are a lot of people who don't appreciate this place the way I do. I remember those days in the mill doing piece work and sweating all day long.

"This has been a nice, nice place to work. I will never forget these people. They have been so good to me.

"There will be tears in my eyes when I leave."

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