Alumni Association Launches 'Conversations'
By Reid Oslin
The convocation and book discussion that started last fall as a new and invigorating tradition for Boston College freshmen may soon become a popular custom for the University's alumni as well.
The Boston College Alumni Association recently launched its new "Alumni Conversations" program, an on-line book discussion series aimed at fostering a continuing academic and intellectual relationship between graduates and the University.
Last fall, first-year students at the University participated in the inaugural Freshman Convocation during which they explored the dimensions of service portrayed in a book by Tracy Kidder,Mountains Beyond Mountains. Last month, alumni officers and class leaders were invited to take part in an on-line discussion of the same book, discussing the relevance of the compassion, dedication and service portrayed in the book and how it relates to their own lives.
"It's really exciting," says Alumni Association Executive Director Grace Cotter Regan '82, who expanded the program to the alumni level following conversations with First Year Experience Director Rev. Joseph Marchese. "When I talked with Fr. Joe about this book and read through it, I thought that this would absolutely resonate with our alumni and really meet their needs. I think it will become its own tradition."
The Alumni Association sent copies of Mountains Beyond Mountains to alumni directors, past presidents, local chapter leaders, class officers and class correspondents. The book is also available for purchase through the Boston College Bookstore Web site, www.bcbookstore.com.
"Our goal for this first piece is that the chapters and anniversary classes will do book groups around this," Regan said, adding that a "trail guide" including background information and discussion points on the book is posted on the alumni Web site.
"This is just the beginning," she said. "We are going to do another outreach to our leaders later this semester, encouraging them to do book groups. I think it is going to be one of those things that grows. Chapters and classes will pick it up and even individual alums will pick it up for their own book group.
"We hear from people across the country that they want to feel more connected to the University," Regan said. "This is an easy way to pull a group together or to be involved in our on-line community."
Regan anticipates that the on-line book program will be expanded in future years. "It would be great to offer more than one or two programs or one of two books in a year. We'd definitely like to offer other opportunities, such as Fr. Neenan's 'Dean's List,'" she said, referring to the list of recommended books compiled annually by Vice President and Special Assistant to the President William B. Neenan, SJ.