B.C. Completes Leadership Transition

Trustees elect Syron as new chairman

By Michael Seele
Chronicle Editor

The University marked an historic change in its leadership when the Board of Trustees named Richard F. Syron its chairman and welcomed University President William P. Leahy, SJ, to his first board meeting as Boston College's chief executive on Sept. 27.

In his final remarks as trustee chairman, Geoffrey T. Boisi thanked the board and the University administration for their support. He said that during the past three years, the board had accomplished a successful transition at the trustee and CEO level, broadened the University's national and international presence and reputation, and "developed an atmosphere to ask the toughest questions of how to make ourselves the best."

Turning to Fr. Leahy, Boisi said, "We would settle for nothing but the best and in you we think we have found that. You have our confidence and our prayers and we wish you success."

Prior to relinquishing the chairmanship, Boisi presided over the election of five new trustees.

Upon assuming the chair, Syron paid tribute to his predecessor, saying Boisi "epitomizes the spirit of what this University is all about. He has served during an extraordinarily challenging time in the history of this University."

Outgoing Board of Trustees Chairman Geoffry T. Boisi (left) with his successor, Richard F. Syron, prior to the board's Sept. 27 meeting.

In his first report to the board, Fr. Leahy thanked Boisi as well as administrators and his predecessor, University Chancellor J. Donald Monan, SJ, for the extensive planning and briefings that went into the presidential transition. "From my vantage point, the transition has gone very smoothly," he said. He said he will spend substantial time continuing to meet members of the campus community, as well as introducing himself to the University's constituencies across the country.

Fr. Leahy briefed the board on a number of upcoming events, among them the McMullen Museum's J.M.W. Turner exhibit, the presidential inauguration, a planned visit to campus by Irish President Mary Robinson on Oct. 7, and preparations for the University's once-a-decade re-accreditation, which will include a visit to campus by a re-accreditation team in March.

Financial Vice President and Treasurer Peter C. McKenzie briefed the board on the University's financial situation, noting that Boston College is operating under its 24th consecutive balanced budget. The endowment, which now stands at approximately $600 million, grew by $100 million during the past year, he said.

Though the University's financial situation is growing ever stronger, trustees agreed on the need to allocate resources in the most efficient manner to further the academic mission of the University and they expressed strong support for Project Delta.

Trustee R. Michael Murray, chairman of the board's Finance and Audit Committee, announced that the committee had passed a resolution in support of Project Delta. He said Delta "is an important way of helping make sure the resources of the University are being properly used to pursue the University's goals ... We need to succeed in this venture."

Academic Affairs Committee Chairwoman Susan M. Gianinno reported that the University Academic Planning Council is now working to translate broad goals into specific initiatives. Gianinno added that the University Libraries are "very close" to gaining membership in the Association of Research Libraries, a status that confers "prestige, recognition and helps us in terms of our academic goals," she said.

Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties William B. Neenan, SJ, told the board that the 24 faculty hired this year hold doctorates from the nation's most prestigious universities and mark a continuation of the University's efforts to hire outstanding junior and senior faculty. Seven new endowed professorships have been added in the last year, he said, bringing the total to 23. While that represents substantial progress, he said, the other universities with which Boston College now competes outstrip BC in number of endowed professorships by large margins.

"We are now playing in a new league and that's a function of the work we've done over the past 24 years," he said. "The slope gets very steep from here on out."

The University also faces competition from the nation's elite universities for students, Fr. Neenan said. A jump in the yield of accepted students this year reverses a recent declining trend and he attributed the change largely to the University's investment in financial aid.

Fr. Neenan also discussed the recent US News & World Report ranking of the nation's colleges and universities, which placed BC 38th out of 229 national universities. Boston College, he said, is "newly arrived" at such high standing and needs to develop its academic reputation and make sure its resources are expended wisely on the University's academic mission.

Development Committee Chairman Robert J. Murray reported that the University enjoyed a record fundraising year in 1995-96, raising $24.7 million in cash. He noted growth in both the Fides and President's Circle giving groups and said the University's development efforts must meet "great challenges" in the coming years if Boston College is to achieve its ambitions.

Student Life Committee Chairwoman Marianne D. Short reported that values education and personal formation were on the committee's agenda in a meeting earlier in the day. The committee heard reports from the University Chaplaincy and Housing on efforts being taken to develop values among students.

In other business, the board concurred with the appointment of Mary Brabeck as dean of the School of Education.

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