May 25, 2006 • Volume 14 Number 18
Graduating seniors had the opportunity last Friday to offer a special thank-you - and by the look of it, many of them did.
The Office of University Mission and Ministry's Intersections program and its Senior Task Force sponsored the first "Last Taste of Boston" reception, for which students could each invite up to five administrators, faculty and staff members to attend a luncheon consisting of dishes from popular Boston restaurants.
Several hundred seniors and invitees packed into the Walsh Fall function room for the event, which had to be moved indoors from the Robsham Theater patio due to rain.
"It's meant as a way for students to say to a mentor, or a friend, 'Good-bye, and thanks for all you've done,'" said co-organizer Caroline Pollick, a graduate student in the joint social work-pastoral ministry program, as she watched the participants mill around, chat and wait in line for food.
"The idea is to help faculty, staff and administrators realize the impact they can have on students, and not just in the classroom."
More than a few got that message, and took it to heart.
"This is truly one of the most significant honors I've ever had," said Sullivan Family Irish Artist in Residence Seamus Connolly, director of Irish Studies Music Programs, as he lunched with Lin Hu, who took his fiddle classes in each of her four years at BC.
"This invitation from Lin just means so much to me, and I'm glad I was able to make a difference for her," he said.
"Seamus was the first name I thought of," said Hu. "We've worked a lot together, and he's done a lot for me."
Standing in line with his research advisee turned "sponsor," Elizabeth Higgins, Prof. Daniel Kirschner (Biology) said, "I really am honored to be here. Most seniors don't seem to remember that they've worked with professors during college, so I'm happy Liz felt our time together was productive and fulfilling for her."
Michael Galvin had just one class with part-time faculty member Robert Farrell, SJ (English), a core course in literary themes during freshman year, but it was enough to spark a friendship that lasted through the rest of Galvin's college years - and resulted in an invitation for Fr. Farrell to "Last Taste."
"It just sounded like a meaningful way to say 'Thank you,' which I thought was an important thing to do," said Galvin.
When Galvin mused that he might be able to issue more such invitations to Fr. Farrell if he is successful in landing a job in Boston, his guest had a ready reply.
"I wouldn't dream of him taking me out to lunch," quipped Fr. Farrell. "He can come back here to campus and eat with me at St. Mary's for free."
Making a mark, again
It's not a record that the folks from Guinness will include in their next compendium - and you can't even see it with the naked eye. But the achievement is one in which BC and its Chemistry Department can take considerable pride.
Thanks to the hard work of Brian Steinberg, a graduate student in the Chemistry Department, Boston College is home to the world's largest open geodesic polyarene, tetraindenocorannulene.
According to Prof. Lawrence Scott (Chemistry), Steinberg spent months putting together the tiny molecule this spring. He started with materials that are commercially available and gradually transformed them into progressively more complex molecules. Finally, an x-ray crystal structure confirmed the molecule's existence on May 10.
Scott says that while there are no real-world applications at present, Steinberg's accomplishment is very valuable.
"From what we learned by synthesizing tetraindenocorannulene, we hope to be able to solve even more challenging syntheses," Scott says. "One of our current long range goals is to develop chemical methods for the laboratory synthesis of uniform carbon nanotubes. Brian's achievement is an important step in that direction."
This is not the first time BC has notched such a record. The previous largest open geodesic polyarene was also assembled in Scott's lab, and the professor says he expects that one of his team members will confirm the existence of an even bigger one later this year.
Being a college administrator as well as a veteran, Associate Dean for Students D. Michael Ryan '67 has had his share of uncommon life experiences. But when he helped form a folk music group several years ago, he probably didn't expect he would some day be singing John Denver songs to an appreciative audience of Chinese fans.
Ryan and his group The Jolly Rogues spent 10 days in China during late April and early May. The band - which performs popular English and American songs from the 18th and 19th century, often in period dress - was the only American group invited to take part in a major arts and cultural festival held in Beijing.
"Our manager, Jim Murray, is a guy who likes challenges," said Ryan. "We had done summer trips to England and Germany and were wondering what to do next, so we said, 'Why not China?' Jim made contact with the Chinese embassy and somehow got a referral, and it led to an official invitation."
Prior to their festival appearance, the Rogues took a side trip to Shanghai, where they performed for, and spent time socializing with, college students. Their stay in China also included visits to Jesuit universities and churches, the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, and a number of impromptu concerts in addition to their scheduled gigs.
To say the Rogues were well-received is putting it mildly, says Ryan: "People couldn't get enough of us; they loved the music, loved our costumes. I was amazed at the response - tots, grandparents, young people, they would clap along and sing on a lot of the choruses. We actually wound up with some 'groupies' who followed us from concert to concert. At the festival, there were crowds showing up just to hear our sound check."
At the end of one performance, Ryan says, the crowd began calling out requests, and that's when he and his mates discovered how much of an icon the late John Denver is in China.
"They kept asking for his songs, so we sang 'Take Me Home Country Roads' as an encore," he said. "Before you knew it, the audience was yelling out things like 'Hotel California!'"
Ryan, incidentally, reports that he did his bit to help promote BC during the visit, wearing Eagle hockey and football jerseys on some of his outings.