Jan. 20, 2004 • Volume 13 Number 9

University Planning Effort Entering Final Phase

Committees, task forces produce some 200 ideas for reshaping BC

By Sean Smith
Chronicle Editor

Boston College has entered the final phase of a broad-based planning effort that will set the University's institutional direction for at least the next decade.

During the past several months, 15 committees and task forces comprising some 200 BC administrators, faculty, staff and students have devised proposals for reshaping the University. These proposals, about 200 in all, include plans for establishing new academic and research centers, hiring more faculty, constructing a new student center and creating more performance space on campus, among other initiatives.

Prof. James O'Toole (History), director of the planning effort, said last week that the University Assessment and Planning Initiative steering committee, chaired by Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties John Neuhauser and Executive Vice President Patrick Keating, will review the proposals and organize them into a comprehensive package, which will be presented to the Board of Trustees at their June meeting.

O'Toole added that this semester also will see a series of public discussions on the planning effort and what it has produced thus far.

"It's important to realize how participatory this whole process has been since it began in the fall of 2003," said O'Toole. "There have been a lot of hands involved in putting this all together. The committees and task forces have spoken with many people in the University community as they have worked on their proposals.

"In the same vein, the next few months will be a kind of 'peer review' of what the planning initiative has come up with to this point. Some of these discussions will be general, university-wide events, others will be more school-specific.

"But we want to make sure everyone has an opportunity to see, and weigh in on, what's been done."

In its final form, O'Toole said, the steering committee's report to the trustees will consist of about a dozen or so "galvanizing initiatives," which will recommend large-scale goals the University should pursue. The report also will detail programs, resources and strategies that will enable BC to achieve these overall objectives in anticipation of its 150th anniversary in 2013.

"With some 200 proposals in all, there are tough choices to be made, because not every idea will be workable," said O'Toole, a member of the steering committee. "But the committee also is trying to combine elements of those ideas that overlap or have some commonality.

"For instance, there is great interest in having BC establish a center on aging, and there were different ideas on what focus it might have, such as retirement issues or healthy living. So the steering committee will seek to shape a proposal that will encompass some of these various characteristics."

Praising the committees and task forces, O'Toole said the quality and significance of their work goes beyond the scope of the planning effort.

"The life of the university doesn't stop while this initiative goes on," he said. "If a certain proposal doesn't work in this particular context, that does not automatically preclude it from ever seeing the light of day. We hope, and expect, that schools, departments, programs and members of the BC community will continue to pursue these good ideas and find ways to realize them."

More information on the University Assessment and Planning Initiative is available at

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