Voices From The Past

50-year Employees Reflect On Careers That Grew
With Boston College

Fifty years ago, Boston College was more like a small town than a national university, where a largely Jesuit faculty taught returning World War II servicemen in quonset huts, most of the all-male student body caught the trolley home after class, and a reservoir covered what is now Lower Campus.

Much has changed since then, but Boston College never lost its allure for a handful of employees who have continued working and teaching over the past half-century. In this edition, Chronicle launches an occasional series of interviews with 50-year Boston College employees, who discuss their decades of experiences at The Heights, as well as their long-standing bond with the University community.

By Mark Sullivan
Staff Writer

University Historian Charles Donovan, SJ, Prof. Emeritus Joseph Figurito (Romance Languages), Prof. Emeritus Stanley Dmohowski (CSOM), and B&G Coordinator John Foley (from left), are among BC's 50-year employees. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

John Foley '56, M.Ed '62

Foley, who marks his 50th anniversary at Boston College in June, worked in Audio Visual Services for more than 40 years before becoming a coordinator in Buildings and Grounds five years ago. Overcoming the polio that left him paralyzed for a time as a young child, Foley has not missed a day of work since arriving on the job in 1948, and had not missed a football game at Alumni Stadium in 40 years until he retired as scoreboard operator this past fall.

"When I first came here, everyone knew everybody else by their first name, and everybody did everything: If a truck needed to be driven, you drove a truck.

"I started out in the receiving room of the bookstore, then went to Weston Observatory. I was at AV for more than 40 years. Would you believe we started with one projector and one tape recorder?

"After I took a full-time job at BC, I went to the Evening College, which was downtown. I majored in parking. Once, in 1956, we were doing a remote broadcast of a Boston Citizens Seminar over WGBH, and I was running late for a final exam downtown. Gov. Christian Herter, one of the guests on the program, arranged for a police escort to get me to my exam on time.

"On my 40th anniversary at BC, they planted a tree in my honor at Lyons Hall. It's still there. It's a great big tree now.

"Retire from Boston College? Not as long as they have a job for me."

Prof. Emeritus Joseph Figurito (Romance Languages)'46

Figurito taught language and literature in French, Spanish and Italian during a career that began in the fall of 1947. He credits his service in the Army Intelligence Corps with honing the memory skills that allowed him to lecture at length without notes. Though he retired from full-time teaching in 1987, he continues to teach one class a year on the literature of opera. Another devoted volunteer at BC football games, he has missed only three games in 39 years as a spotter in the Alumni Stadium press box.

"Maybe it was a love affair. I loved it.

"I had other job offers, but my parents in Somerville were getting old and I wanted to be with them. Then I got to like teaching at BC. I had many connections - I was moderator of the Italian Academy and I started to write plays for them that were presented at Bapst when it had an auditorium. Then I was manager of the musical clubs for a few years. Then I got involved with football.

"Athletic Director Bill Flynn knew I was on the track team as a student and he even asked me, "Joe, teach them a little bit of soccer." I'll never forget it: They gave me a soccer ball, a pair of sneakers and a whistle. Every Saturday I used to come in and teach them a few things. Then they went varsity.

"I had a choice to go to Harvard, but I liked BC. The first time I came here was with a teacher from Somerville High. We got off at Lake Street, and I said, "Mr. DeAngelis, what are you taking me to, a monastery? I don't want to go to a monastery.

"Maybe it was a love affair with BC. Why are you in love? You can't answer that question too clearly."

Prof. Emeritus Stanley Dmohowski (CSOM) '45

Dmohowski recently ended a teaching career that began on Commencement Day in 1945, when as a new graduate he was offered a job on the accounting faculty. Dmohowski became the inaugural holder of the Joseph L. Sweeney Chair in Accounting, with a distinctive teaching regimen that included daily quizzes and an opening Hail Mary. He retired from full-time teaching in 1996, but continued to teach one course a year on a part-time basis.

"I was quite nervous for the first year or so. But everyone seemed to enjoy the introductory accounting course I taught - I found out later on that some of the kids who didn't enjoy it while they were taking it later felt it was something they really needed.

"I've taught the gamut of courses. One of my experiences was in the 1950s, when the College of Business Administration hired somebody who was secretary of the treasury of Hungary - I think his name was Fabini - who was going to teach a course in money and banking. Anyway, he dropped dead of a heart attack a couple of weeks before school started. I ended up teaching the course, using my thesis notes from a graduate course in finance I had just taken at New York University. I was one page ahead of the students. A funny story about that is, one of my students was a kid by the name of Giles Mosher. He became a president of BayBank."

University Historian Charles Donovan, SJ '33

Fr. Donovan arrived at Boston College as a student in 1929, and this fall will mark the 50th anniversary of his appointment to a full-time faculty post. He has served as founding dean of the School of Education, academic vice president, and senior vice president and dean of faculties, and in 1978 was awarded an honorary doctorate in philosophy. As historian of the University since 1979, Fr. Donovan has co-authored History of Boston College: From the Beginnings to 1990 , and penned a series of "Occasional Papers on the History of Boston College" that have been compiled into a book, Boston College: Glimpses of the Past .

"As I reflect on my 50 years here, I guess I'm protective of the past. We tend to think that everything good is recent. Our academic strength is not something that happened when we got wealthy. We had academic strength when we were poor.

"When I entered the Society of Jesus, I wanted to be a Jesuit. I didn't even think I wanted to be at Boston College - I wanted to do what I was asked to do. I was fortunate enough to be sent here for one year during my regency - I taught freshman English from 1939-40. As I've said before, that was the happiest year of my life, except that each succeeding year has been the happiest year.

"This was a natural place to be happy. Boston College has been growing ever since I was associated with it. It's a comfortable place to be, a supportive place to be. Generally you get a sense of people who are at ease with what they are doing. You feel you're on a strong team.

"We started with a first-class faculty, and now we have a first-class institution. It's been my luck to be here. It's like a League of Nations now at the Jesuit residence at St. Mary's, with people from all over the world happy to be visiting here. We are under a charmed star."

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