University is Seen at Start of a New Era

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

At a time of remembrance for eras past, University President J. Donald Monan, SJ, said at yesterday's annual Faculty Convocation, Boston College is on the threshold of a new era, heralded by the University Academic Planning Council's work on the institution's long-term academic goals.

"Our institutional history and the community of individuals that form Boston College today provide us with unique opportunities not only to advance our place among the nation's finest universities," said Fr. Monan at the event -- held before an audience of over 500 faculty, administrators and staff in Robsham Theater -- " but to bring to their number a Catholic intellectual and formative tradition that has the power to be enriching not only to individual students but to the society in which we have an influential voice."

Fr. Monan outlined the UAPC's recent and forthcoming work, which he said would act as "a bridge to the new year and . . . create the framework for much of what we do in the years ahead." He also addressed the role of the University's growing endowment in realizing its hopes for the future, and clarified the outlook for the University's presidential search.

The convocation also featured remarks by Executive Vice President Frank Campanella and Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties William B. Neenan, SJ.

Reviewing the work of the UAPC, whose creation he announced at the 1994 convocation, Fr. Monan said the council's purpose was and is "to define the next level of quality we can attain," and its meetings and outreach efforts to the University community have enabled the UAPC to move closer to completing its task. Fr. Monan said the council is expected to have a preliminary draft of its report available by mid-November and a finished docume nt for the Board of Trustees early in 1996.

Praising the UAPC and its co-chairs, Academic Vice President Robert Newton and Associate Vice President for Research and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael Smyer, Fr. Monan said there will be much " iterative interaction between council and community in the months ahead."

The financial position of Boston College, Fr. Monan said, continues to reach new and encouraging levels. The physical assets of the campus exceed $500 million in worth, he said, and for the first time in the history of any Jesuit university the endowment has reached the $500 million mark.

The latter figure should be viewed in perspective, Fr. Monan said, since one of the endowment's primary functions is to secure the University's sizable debt. Boston College's financial potential and the resources on which it is based are real and growing, he said, "but there are also potential claims on those resources that counsel great circumspection in planning its use." Despite recent public speculation over his tenure as president, Fr. Monan said circumstances have not changed since he agreed last year to extend his administration for two to three more years. At his suggestion, he said, the trustees took the first stepsthis summer to resume the search for his successor. If their search is productive, Fr. Monan said, the University would likely announce his successor by year's end and inaugurate a new president in the fall of 1996.

Noting the anniversary observances of many historical events this year -- such as the end of World War II, the Selma March and the conclusion of the Vietnam War -- Fr. Monan said the events commemorated in the "Year of the Anniversary" defined an era which has come to a close. There is a new era dawning for the world and for Boston College, he said.

"As we begin this academic year, the work of our University Academic Planning Council is turning the entire University's eyes to its future," Fr. Monan added. " With your continued insights and assistance I would hope that by January all of us will have a clearer outline of the future we wish to create."

In his address, Campanella reported on major University building and technology projects, including Agora and the proposed construction on the southwestern area of Middle Campus, which will include a new student center. He also reflected on the steps taken to address concerns expressed throughout the University community in the spring on race-related issues, including his discussions with two student groups.

A major segment of his talk dwelt on the subject of "re-engineering" -- finding new methods and concepts of accomplishing tasks at a time when price competition, cost pressures and other restrictions necessitate changing "the comfortable business as usual' attitude that our recent successes have fostered," he said. Campanella pointed to Agora as an example of how effective planning and use of resources can result in an innovation which reduces the need for conventional utilization of manpower or finances.

"While we must be about the work of re-engineering, we don't intend to follow the model adopted by corporations and by some universities. That is to create teams of people who, working with outside consultants, crash about the organization finding better ways to do things, like it or not. That's not our way, nor does it fit our culture," Campanella said.

"The challenge is how to motivate us to suffer the uncertainty and discomfort of finding and doing things differently tomorrow than we do them today," he said, "perhaps in cases, even radically different."

After Campanella, Fr. Neenan welcomed the 17 new tenure-track faculty joining the University this year and gave a tribute to two recently deceased faculty members -- Amanda Houston and Margaret Gorman, RSCJ. He presented an overview of the University's general and individual academic progress, including the rise of undergraduate applications to a new record of 16,680 and the arrival of 102 African-American freshmen this year, "the highest number in recent history."

The admission picture in the graduate and professional programs is "generally positive," Fr. Neenan said. Despite a general decline in applications nationwide, the Law School is enrolling 275 first-year law students from an applicant pool of 5,500, one of the largest in the country. The Carroll Graduate School of Management's MBA program will enroll "a record number of students"this year, he said, while totals for the Graduate School of Social Work are high and enrollments in the graduate schools of Arts and Sciences, Education and Nursing remain stable.

Reviewing the attributes of Jesuit education, Fr. Neenan encouraged the University to continue developing initiatives which enable Boston College to fulfill those characteristics, such as the Mays Mentoring Program , Presidential Scholars Program and the Emerging Leadership Program.

"Ask yourself as I ask myself," he said, "how big a priority is cura personalis? How high a priority do I place on mentoring a student? As for me I promise to do all I can this year to employ cura personalis with [all of you]."

Return to Sept. 7 menu

Return to Chronicle Home Page