Murray House Re-Opens As Graduate Student Center

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

Boston College graduate students now have an on-campus location for academic, professional and social activities, with the opening last week of the John Courtney Murray, SJ, Graduate Student Center.

University President William P. Leahy, SJ, cut the ribbon at a Dec. 3 ceremony to officially open Murray House, which had served largely as a meeting place for undergraduate commuter students since its acquisition by the University in 1967. The renovated facility, located at 292 Hammond St., now features a computer room, cable TV and dining facilities, as well as several conference and study rooms.

Administrators say the new use for Murray House reflects a commitment to strengthening graduate education outlined in the University's $260 million initiative in support of academic programs. In addition, the University created the position of associate dean for graduate student life and named to the post Associate Dean for Student Development Ann F. Morgan. The building houses Morgan's office, as well as a staff assistant, two graduate student resident managers, a work study staff and graduate student organization offices.

College of Arts and Sciences Dean J. Robert Barth, SJ, addresses the gathering at the Dec. 3 opening of Murray House. Listening, from left, are: (seated) University President William P. Leahy, SJ, and Student Affairs Vice President Kevin P. Duffy; and (standing) graduate students Salli Cavanagh, Amanda DeLacy and Michael Benvenuto.
Establishing Murray House as a graduate student center, administrators say, is a highly significant act both symbolically and practically.

"Our overall goal is to send a message that Boston College understands and appreciates the contribution graduate students make to the University," said Vice President for Student Affairs Kevin P. Duffy. "We see Murray House as providing a means to build community among graduate students, faculty and administration, and provide opportunities for discussion, reflection and other important aspects of university life."

"This is an exciting addition to BC," Morgan said. "Having worked with grad students over the past few years, I could see the needs they have. This center answers not only academic and social needs, but the students' desire to explore the dimensions of Jesuit and Catholic faith at the center of Boston College."

The Dec. 3 dedication conveyed those dimensions. In addition to remarks by Duffy, Morgan and Graduate Student Association Director Claire Schomp, College of Arts and Sciences Dean J. Robert Barth, SJ, gave a biographical sketch of the house's namesake, who is considered one of the greatest American Catholic theologians. Chaplain Donald Macmillan, SJ - who will work with graduate students in organizing retreats and other events - offered a blessing for the house before the ribbon-cutting.

"We've been looking forward to this for a long time," said GSA Financial Director Can Erbil, a student in the Economics Department. "We feel that the new center, as well as the appointment of a full-time graduate student dean, is a great recognition of the more than 4,000 graduate students here at BC.

"Graduate students have had precious few places to get together and talk, whether it's about our studies or other things in our lives," Erbil added. "It's important to realize how vital this experience is for the students, because it helps provide support and inspiration. We also have wanted to be able to meet regularly with faculty, since they play such a vital role in our academic and professional development."

"There tends to be a perception that graduate students, because they are older or have families, don't need as much in the way of services," Morgan said. "But they seek many of the same resources as undergrads, who have more direct access to things like voicemail and e-mail. Murray House can serve as a center of information and support in helping them find what they need."

In addition to its daily and weekly functions, Morgan sees Murray House as a potential venue for seminars, guest speakers, doctoral dissertations and other special events.

"There are so many possibilities," Morgan said. "By next year, we may be seeing things take place here we haven't even considered yet. Murray House is a great Christmas gift for our grad students."

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