Sept. 21, 2006 • Volume 15 Number 2

Rev. William P. Leahy, SJ

Impressive Numbers, High Praise Mark First 10 Years

It has been a remarkable decade for Boston College and its president, Rev. William P. Leahy, SJ.

Since taking the helm as BC's 25th president in July 1996, Fr. Leahy has presided over an institution that has solidified its position among the nation's best and most selective national universities.

During that time, BC's endowment, sponsored research grants and student financial aid have all doubled. One hundred full-time faculty positions have been added, student applications have increased by more than 10,000, the percentage of applicants accepted has improved from 41 to 29 percent and SAT scores have risen by nearly 100 points to 1325.

This rise in academic strength is reflected in the number of students who have earned prestigious academic fellowships over the past decade, including BC's first two Rhodes Scholarships, 80 Fulbright Grants, 10 Goldwater Scholarships, eight Beckman Scholarships, six Truman Scholarships, three Marshall Scholarships, two Churchill Scholarships and a Gates-Cambridge Scholarship, among others, totaling more than 150 fellowships since 1996.

In addition, AHANA representation among students has climbed from 18 to 25 percent and annual gifts to the University have tripled to $76 million. The University's endowment has reached $1.4 billion and BC has become one of only 30 need-blind universities in the United States to meet the full financial need of all accepted students.

Over the past 10 years, Boston College has doubled its total acreage, acquiring more than 120 acres of land including 47 purchased across Commonwealth Avenue from the Archdiocese of Boston and a 78-acre retreat center purchased in nearby Dover. It has added 35 buildings, including new facilities for physics and biology, which have enabled it to quietly transform itself into an internationally respected research university that emphasizes a student-centered liberal arts education.

This year, boosted by an increase in its academic reputation score, Boston College rose in the US News rankings to 34th among national universities, its highest position to date, and was named one of the "New Ivies" in a first-time ranking by Newsweek magazine.

"Fr. Leahy is a man of great wisdom and judgment who has led Boston College into a greater position of excellence than at any time in its history," said Board of Trustees Chairman emeritus John M. Connors, Jr. "He has done so by demonstrating skilled leadership, building a strong team and staying as far away from any credit as possible.

He spends every day living up to the University's motto 'Ever to Excel.'"

Observers agree that Fr. Leahy has also managed to strengthen BC's distinctive Jesuit, Catholic mission and character. His efforts to help renew and revitalize the Catholic Church in the wake of the clergy sexual abuse crisis through the Church in the 21st Century initiative drew wide acclaim and have positioned him as one of the nation's most respected college presidents on Catholic issues.

"I have been most impressed by how Fr. Leahy has so very successfully combined his deep commitment to Boston College with generous service, first as Chair of the Board of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU), and now of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU)," said AJCU President Charles Currie, SJ.

"Even more important has been his leadership role in responding to the contemporary crisis in the Church, by developing the very effective Church in the 21st Century project, a great service to Boston and to the Church at large. Both at Boston College and in his other responsibilities, Fr. Leahy has a knack for getting to the heart of problems and issues and suggesting creative solutions. Perhaps what I appreciate most is his availability when needed. I and other presidents very much value his service."

Locally, that same willingness to address societal challenges has earned Boston College praise for its role in saving St. Columbkille's School, the last Catholic elementary school in Boston's Brighton neighborhood, and for its outreach to the City of Boston through BC's Connect Five Initiative, the Allston-Brighton Community Grants and work on behalf of Boston's inner-city Catholic schools.

"By supporting many partnerships with the City of Boston, and reaching out to its schools both public and parochial, Fr. Leahy has strengthened BC's reputation as a trusted partner in the community," said Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. "I want to congratulate Fr. Leahy on 10 successful years as president of Boston College."

Most recently, Fr. Leahy and the University have worked to develop a new strategic plan that will guide BC's growth in quality and scope over the next decade. The new plan, which will be finalized later this year, promises to best position Boston College to fulfill its seven strategic directions - including its ambitions of becoming the leader in liberal arts education among American universities, and the world's foremost Catholic University and theological center.

"Fr. Leahy's 10-year tenure as president of Boston College has been marked by a style that is both competent and visionary," said Boston College Board of Trustees Chairman Patrick T. Stokes, president and CEO of Anheuser Busch Companies Inc. "While he has a clear idea of where Boston College needs to go, he has utilized an inclusive process that has been both pragmatic and effective. He has demonstrated what you want most in a CEO...integrity based on strongly held values."

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