Trustees Gain Insight Into Faculty's Work

By Michael Seele
Chronicle Editor

Three faculty members gave the Board of Trustees insights into the rhythm of their professional lives at the board's Dec. 6 meeting in Burns Library. Trustees also heard an update on an ongoing effort to involve alumnae more closely in the life of the University.

Cleary Professor of Finance Edward Kane, Prof. Amir Hoveyda (Chemistry) and Asst. Prof. Willemien Otten (Theology) each presented a brief outline of their activities as Boston College faculty members. All stressed that their work is not confined to the classroom, or to the academic year.

Contrary to popular myth, Hoveyda told the board, "this is a 12-month-a-year job and you don't take summers off." He outlined one typical week that included lecturing to freshmen, traveling to Amsterdam to address a conference of pharmaceutical developers and returning to Boston to work with his graduate students. Hoveyda said he finds this range of contact "refreshing.

"I tell the freshmen what I'm doing when I'm not with them to show them what is on the other end of what they're doing." He said he felt a responsibility to "generate future leaders who will decide the course of the profession. Generating people is more important than generating the research."

Otten agreed that research makes her job a year-round one, but that the classroom remains the place where she is most visible. "I try to find themes in theology that are related to students' lives and give students a solid religious base so they can develop a mature personal outlook on religion in their lives."

Otten also remarked on the competitive nature of her field, where many hours are spent preparing for research and many more are spent doing the actual research and writing. Afterward, the job of selling her work to publishers remains. "What anchors these activities is that you see academic work somehow as a vocation. Boston College, more than the average academic institution, is supportive in that respect."

Kane noted that university professors are judged by the volume of their publications, how often they are quoted in the press and by their invitations to address their colleagues, which all are traceable to the volume and quality of their research.

"But a professor's legacy is not research, it's students," Kane told the board. "Research is only valuable to the extent it contributes to that legacy."

Trustee Robert J. Murray, chairman of the board's Development Committee, noted that both pledges and cash donations to the University are running ahead of last year's pace. He also introduced a report by trustees Susan Gianinno and Mary Steele Guilfoile updating the work of a task force created two years ago to address the under-representation of women as volunteers and donors in the University's development efforts.

Gianinno said women represent nearly half of Boston College's alumni body and "are not engaged in the most effective way.

"These women are changing in ways that make it important to Boston College," she said. "They are independent wage earners and have more influence in their households as it relates to money."

The task force's research to date indicates that the issue goes beyond fundraising and is common among formerly all-male colleges, though the University is at the forefront in addressing the matter.

"There is a clear need and opportunity to strengthen the connection between women and Boston College," Gianinno said.

Guilfoile added that while research continues, the Development Office is formulating new communications strategies geared to women and is testing new methods for reaching out to alumnae.

At the conclusion of the report, Trustee Chairman Richard Syron said, "This is of great importance to the University and will become of greater importance as we look at the demographics."

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