Fr. Leahy Outlines Vision For National Development Board

By Mark Sullivan
Staff Writer

A campus gathering of top Boston College volunteer fundraisers last week heard University President William P. Leahy, SJ, offer a sweeping vision of the school as a vibrant intellectual marketplace informed by Jesuit and Catholic tradition.

"I want us to be a place that has broad perspectives and big dreams," Fr. Leahy told 39 members of the Boston College National Development Board who gathered at Gasson Hall on Nov. 21 for the first of two days of briefings on University fund-raising plans.

Fr. Leahy, who hopes to rally alumni support for an upcoming capital campaign, detailed his vision of the Boston College of the future.

"I see Boston College as a beacon of quality, standing out on the horizon, a guiding light," he said. "I see Boston College as a bridge, an institution that helps connect people with the future, but also with their past.

"And I want Boston College to be a crossroads, where people can talk about issues and ideas, where people teach and debate and discuss and learn. I want us to be alive and vibrant - we need to be a thriving environment," Fr. Leahy said.

Yet if Boston College is to prosper as a center of higher learning, Fr. Leahy said, it must never forget its duty to nurture the soul along with the mind.

"We want to have the whole person touched at Boston College," said Fr. Leahy. "My dream for Boston College is that it always strives to be an ever stronger University, ever faithful to its Jesuit Catholic heritage."

Boston College is moving forward with ambitious plans to strengthen its standing as a national university, said Fr. Leahy, citing a recently announced $260 million commitment to upgrade academic and research offerings.

Alumni giving is key if the University is to realize its goals of excellence, said Fr. Leahy, who noted Boston College's endowment of $720 million is less than that of other national universities at the level at which BC seeks to compete.

The University of Notre Dame, for example, has an an endowment of $1.4 billion and is in the midst of its own intensive capital campaign, said Fr. Leahy, who said Boston College fund-raisers must "sensitize and motivate" alumni to the need for increased annual gifts in the future.

Other speakers during the opening morning of the two-day NDB conclave included Executive Vice President Frank B. Campanella, who gave a status report on Project Delta and University capital plans, and University Trustee Patrick Carney, chairman of the National Development Board.

Campanella said Boston College plans to spend upwards of $400 million on construction over next decade, on such campus improvements as the proposed Middle Campus project, with its new student union and humanities buildings; renovations of Carney and Lyons halls; and the construction of undergraduate and graduate residence halls.

Carney said the efforts of dedicated alumni fund-raisers like those on the National Development Board have been central to the success Boston College has enjoyed in previous fund-raising ventures over the past half-decade.

"Knute Rockne was once asked if the Lord were on his side," said Carney, recounting an anecdote about the famous Notre Dame football coach. "He said, 'Yes - but it helps to have a good quarterback.'

"The National Development Board has been our 'good quarterback' these past five years," Carney said.

In addition to numerous briefings over the weekend, NDB members got a preview of the new Boston College Club and heard remarks from new Athletic Director Gene DeFilippo at a Friday dinner and reception at the Copley Plaza Hotel.

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