May 25, 2006 • Volume 14 Number 18

Marian St. Onge, left, and Loretta Higgins are among those members of the University community retiring this year. (Photo by Suzanne Camarata)

Years of Growth, Yet 'A Sense of Community'

By Sean Smith
Chronicle Editor

A new decade was under way by the time Laurel Eisenhauer, John McKiernan and Marian St. Onge began working at Boston College - and although no one knew it yet, a new era was about to begin for BC.

Some 35 years later, Eisenhauer, McKiernan and St. Onge are saying farewell to a drastically changed university, larger in size, scope and aspiration than they could have imagined.

The three will join other administrators, faculty and staff who are retiring this year, as well as those celebrating 25 years at BC, at a dinner on May 30 in their honor hosted by University President William P. Leahy, SJ. (Click here for the list of retiring and 25-year employees.)

During the more than three decades Eisenhauer, McKiernan and St. Onge worked at BC, the University survived significant financial troubles, launched several successful capital campaigns, and added campuses in Newton and Brighton as well as buildings such as O'Neill Library, Robsham Theater and Conte Forum. Those years also have seen a notable increase in the numbers, and quality, of its students, faculty and academic programs - and, overall, its emergence as an internationally prominent Catholic university.

But for Eisenhauer, who graduated from BC in 1962 and returned in 1970 to join the School of Nursing faculty, some important features of the University, thankfully, have not changed.

"BC has managed to evolve to become more of a research institution," she explains, "yet has also managed to maintain a sense of community and opportunities to participate in the university at large, as well as smaller communities such as the undergraduate schools and departments."

St. Onge, a graduate student when she arrived in 1971, served in a variety of teaching and administrative roles before being appointed in 1991 as director of the Center for International Partnerships and Programs. For her, BC's progress has truly been global.

"When the office was first created, there were few study-abroad opportunities for BC students - and those who did go abroad had to withdraw from BC and enroll at the foreign schools," she says. "But all that's changed. We now have over 70 partnerships around the world, and every year more than 1,000 BC students and faculty participate in programs abroad, which are fully integrated with BC.

"Of course, the growth of international study is not limited to BC. But our students have identified study-abroad opportunities as critical to their personal and spiritual growth - elements that are vital to the Boston College experience."

McKiernan, who until his retirement earlier this year had directed BC's Small Business Development Center Network - a partnership program with the US Small Business Administration and the Massachusetts Department of Business and Technology - since its establishment in 1980, sees a university that has responded to challenges but also anticipated new avenues for advancement.

"The international initiatives and corporate training programs, for example, are areas where BC saw a chance to expand its offerings in a way that would strengthen its mission," says McKiernan, who came as a graduate student in 1968 and later began working in the School of Management.

"I think, in general, from what I've seen is that when the University made a commitment - whether to international study or corporate education - it had strong expectations, but did its best to help people meet them.

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