(L-R) University trustees Cynthia Egan '78 and Kathleen McGillycuddy, NC '71, co-chairs of the Council for Women of Boston College, speak with Vice President Mary Lou Delong and University President William P. Leahy, SJ, during the April 3 premiere of "Making Our Place: A History Women at Boston College." (Photo by Rose Lincoln)
A Place in BC History
Newly produced video showcases role of women at the University
By Reid Oslin
It had all the requisites of a top Hollywood movie premiere: a red carpet entryway, a full audience of enthusiastic viewers, and most importantly, a great cast of characters.
"Making Our Place: A History of Women at Boston College" made its debut on April 3 at the Yawkey Athletic Center's Murray Room, earning the final piece of successful opening night film traditions - rave reviews.
"I thought it was great to actually see the history of women at Boston College, because there is so much of it that we don't know," said Suzanne Timmons, a senior in the Lynch School of Education who has known Boston College only as a fully co-educational institution. "It gives you a very different perspective, that's for sure."
A joint venture between the Council for Women at Boston College and the University's Office of Marketing Communications, "Making Our Place" is a 35-minute video tracing the long and important role of women at the University. DVD copies will be available for sale in the BC Bookstore by the end of the semester.
The film was prepared to commemorate special milestones in the University's history - 2006 marks the 50th anniversary of the first graduating class of women from the Lynch School of Education, and this year, for the first time, women graduates will comprise 50 percent of the University's total alumni population of 145,000.
"The history of women at Boston College is an incredibly rich one," University Trustee Mary J. Steele Guilfoile '76, chair of the council's history project, told the 300 guests at the event. "Our challenge was just to capture some small part of it, to make it interesting, exciting, and perhaps to whet everyone's appetite sufficiently to make this only the first installment of many more to come."
"Making Our Place" traces the involvement of the first women officially associated with Boston College, the Philomatheia Club, an auxiliary support group started in 1915, two years after the all-male school moved to Chestnut Hill. Eventually the club had more than 2,000 members and raised thousands of dollars in support of the educational and extracurricular activities enjoyed by student body of the day.
The film — narrated by Deputy Director of Public Affairs Patricia Delaney '80 - is chock full of interesting nuggets, such as the name of the first woman to receive a Boston College degree (Mary Catherine Mellyn, an honorary Doctorate of Education awarded at commencement ceremonies in 1925); the first women to take classes on the Chestnut Hill campus (230 archdiocesan nuns who took summer courses in 1924); and the story of the seven women who were quietly enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences Class of 1963 - an experiment that was later overruled by the Jesuit Provincial of New England.
OMC Digital Media Producer Paul Dagnello, who produced the work, says, "The film portrays a very rich story. I don't think people realize just how rich it is and how involved women are with the history of Boston College. We wanted to try and paint that image, to make it very visual and show just how important it was."
"One big point that the film brings out is that Boston College frequently turned to women to help it at times of change and transition," says University Trustee Kathleen McGillycuddy, NC '71, co-chair of the council. "When you consider really, where the University is today, to be at an important time of change and transition, as women and as leaders of this Women's Council we hope that we can play a big role in this new transition and growth plan that the University has."