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May 11, 2006 • Volume 14 Number 17

A Very Full Faculty Day

Strategic and master plans, Rice visit among topics of discussion

By Greg Frost
Staff Writer

At the May 8 Faculty Day event, University President William P. Leahy, SJ, presented a series of updates on the University's strategic and institutional master plans and also discussed the invitation of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to speak at Commencement on May 22.

In addition, Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties Bert Garza, MD, presented this year's Distinguished Teaching and Research awards (see related story).

Fr. Leahy said University Trustees were reviewing and refining the strategic plan, and that BC administrators were gathering comments from various alumni and potential donors about certain proposals.

Among the responses Fr. Leahy said he had heard was a robust affirmation that "Boston College is a strong institution" that nonetheless faces competitive pressures. There was a universal agreement, he said, on the importance of need-blind financial aid and a full recognition of the costs involved.

"Individuals remarked that we should continue our focus on undergraduate education, that we need additional housing for undergraduates, that we have to tend to our graduate and professional programs and also that we need to make sure that we keep the Jesuit, Catholic dimensions of BC strong," Fr. Leahy said.

Regarding the institutional master plan, Leahy said one key issue was the location of a new recreation complex on Lower Campus. Planners will likely recommend that a new student center be built on the site of the current Flynn Recreation Complex. Before construction begins on the student center, however, a new fitness center will have to be built - either on the current sites of More Hall or Edmond's Hall, he said.

Fr. Leahy said a new dining hall is projected for Middle Campus, which will also see either a renovation of Carney for the humanities or an entirely new humanities building.

Turning to the issue of Commencement, Fr. Leahy strongly reiterated both his support and that of the trustees for inviting Rice to speak and for presenting her with an honorary degree.

The topic generated a spirited discourse at the luncheon as several professors asked Fr. Leahy about Rice's selection. Fr. Leahy said he realized that while not everyone on campus agreed with the choice, he thought the debate was a good thing for Boston College in that so many faculty have spoken out in favor of the University acting in accord with its Jesuit and Catholic heritage. [See story on page 1 for more on campus reaction to the Rice visit.]

Fr. Leahy also discussed ways to improve communication between faculty and senior administrators. He called on professors to use the network of department chairs, deans and vice presidents to communicate questions about particular academic matters or broader institutional concerns. He also welcomed Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties Bert Garza's plan to hold a series of dinners next year focusing on BC's mission, and said he planned to participate as much as his schedule allows.

"I think those dinners are a great idea and I applaud his initiative and the interest that so many of you have had in discussing BC's mission," he said.

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