Mary Kinnane Dies; Played Key Role in SOE Early Years

Mary Kinnane Dies; Played Key Role in SOE Early Years

A funeral Mass was celebrated on Oct. 6 in St. Ignatius Church for Prof. Emeritus Mary Kinnane, an important figure in the early years of the Lynch School of Education, who died on Oct. 1. Prof. Kinnane, also a former faculty member in the Communication Department, was 79.

Prof. Kinnane joined the School of Education as a speech instructor in 1954, two years after it had opened. She was appointed dean of women a year later.

During her first few years on campus, Prof. Kinnane was instrumental in winning membership for BC in the American Association of University Women. Her influence also was cited as enabling BC female students to gain admission in the Junior Year Abroad program, to apply for Woodrow Wilson Fellowships, and to participate in the previously all-male University Chorale.

Last year, during the Lynch School's 50th anniversary, Prof. Kinnane published a personal, affectionate account of the school's early years titled A Dynamic Era in the History of Boston College: The Higher Education of Undergraduate Women, the School of Education, 1952-65.

"If the School of Education was 'a feisty school in its youth,'" said former Lynch School Dean Mary Brabeck, recalling a phrase used by founding dean Rev. Charles Donovan, SJ, "Mary Kinnane was the 'feisty.'"

In 1972, when higher education became a graduate division in SOE, Prof. Kinnane - who eventually became the higher education division chair - established a doctoral-level student personnel and student development program and later added a similar program leading to a master's degree.

The Lynch School now presents the annual Mary T. Kinnane Award for Excellence to a master's or doctoral degree student in higher education who has exhibited academic excellence and embodies the Jesuit ideal of service to others.

Prof. Kinnane also served as dean of the Summer School at Boston College from 1967-71.

In 1976, she chaired the University Bicentennial Committee that orchestrated an imaginative and community-wide celebration of the United States' 200th birthday. That same year, she was awarded the Rale medal, one of 200 BC distributed to honor special friends during the bicentennial.

Nationally, Prof. Kinnane served on the board of directors of the Association for the Study of Higher Education and on the editorial boards of the Journal of the American College Personnel Association and the Journal of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.

Her research on student development, college students' perceptions and attitudes, and the role of women in higher education was published in numerous professional journals. She also contributed to the Danforth Foundation's study of campus ministries, and later conducted a study for the Center for Higher Education Research at UCLA on the quality of the educational and personal experience of Boston College students.

A native of Dublin, Prof. Kinnane was educated in Ireland and England before coming to the United States. Her secondary school had the motto, "Gentle in Manner, Strong in Deed," which she cited as an influence on her professional life. Supported by a Carnegie Foundation Fellowship for her dissertation research on the attitudes of college students toward college teaching as a career, Prof. Kinnane received her doctorate in the counseling psychology from Boston College in 1963.

-Lynch School of Education Communications Director William McDonald contributed to this story.


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