Oct. 6, 2005 • Volume 14 Number 3
$10 Million Gift Will Fund Retreat and Conference Ctr.
BC facility in Dover to be named for Jack and Eileen Connors
A $10 million gift to Boston College from John M. (Jack) Connors, Jr. '63 and his wife Eileen M. Ahearn Connors '66, '95 MSW will establish The Connors Family Retreat and Conference Center in Dover, at the location of the former St. Stephen's Priory of the Dominican Friars acquired by the University last year.
In addition to providing much-needed space for academic and professional conferences, the new center will offer a venue for the numerous retreats offered annually by Boston College in keeping with the University's Jesuit mission to integrate, intellectual, personal, ethical and religious formation. More than 2,000 students - in addition to faculty, staff and others - participate in BC retreats each year.
"Boston College has long benefited from the generosity and commitment of Jack and Eileen Connors and their family, and I am so grateful for all that they have done and continue to do for BC," said University President William P. Leahy, SJ.
"Naming our retreat and conference facility in Dover in their honor is especially appropriate, and I am confident that The Connors Family Retreat and Conference Center will contribute significantly to the personal and professional growth of numerous Boston College students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends."
The Connors Family Retreat and Conference Center will allow the University to significantly increase its capacity to meet the rising demand for conference and retreat programs. The center has already begun to offer a full schedule of retreats and conferences. The 78.5 acres of wooded land, bordered on one side by the Charles River, are home to 70,000 square feet of buildings surrounded by formal gardens.
"It's a beautiful, contemplative piece of land," said Jack Connors. "Even more importantly, it will enhance the University's Jesuit mission and offer a larger canvas on which to paint."
The land parcel was developed in 1902 by Arthur Davis and his wife as Gracestone Farm, a home that featured landscaping and formal gardens by Olmstead & Vaux. The Davises sold the property in 1945, and it passed into the hands of the Dominican Order in 1949. The Dominicans welcomed novices to St. Stephen's Priory from 1950 until 1984, when the novitiate was relocated and the priory focused its mission on a retreat ministry and sabbatical programs. Boston College acquired the land and buildings from St. Stephen's Priory last year.
BC's acquisition of the Dover property, along with 43 acres of land in Brighton that had belonged to the Archdiocese of Boston, are the first major land acquisitions for the University since the purchase of the Newton College campus in 1974.
"Jack and I were strongly supportive of the University's decision to purchase the Dover and Brighton properties," said Eileen Connors, "and we felt it was equally important to make a gift that would contribute to those initiatives."
Jack Connors Jr. is founding partner and chairman of Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, one of leading advertising agencies in the United States. Connors has served Boston College in several leadership positions during the past four decades. Recently stepping down after his second term as chairman of the Board of Trustees, he remains the board's longest-serving member, having joined in 1979.
Eileen Connors is a former coordinator of the Women's Resource Committee for the Boston College Alumni Association. She currently serves as a co-chair of the Advisory Board at the Graduate School of Social Work at Boston College. Two of the Connors' four children also attended Boston College.
-Public Affairs staff •