B.C. Will Invest $260 M To Attain Academic Goals

Fr. Leahy announces initiatives

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

Boston College will invest $260 million in academic personnel, programs and resources over the next five years, a commitment "carefully designed to raise Boston College to an even greater level of distinction as a national university," President William P. Leahy, SJ, announced at yesterday's annual Faculty Convocation in Robsham Theater.

That investment, based on recommendations by the University Academic Planning Council report, is connected to areas Fr. Leahy said are "strongly linked to our core strengths and values."

*[ Full text of University President William P. Leahy's Convocation speech]

Executive Vice President Frank B. Campanella and Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties William B. Neenan, SJ, also spoke at the event, discussing the impact of such broad initiatives as Project Delta and implementation of the UAPC Report.

Fr. Leahy also announced three major administrative changes, including the appointment last month of Vice President for Administration John Driscoll as a special consultant for community and state affairs. In addition, he said, Vice President and Assistant to the President Margaret A. Dwyer will step down in early October, and Fr. Neenan will assume the title of vice president and assistant to the president after a new AVP is identified and Fr. Neenan completes a sabbatical.

Prefacing his comments on the University's priorities, Fr. Leahy said any planning for the future must consider Boston College's unique history and heritage. The UAPC recommendations reflect this as they address the five areas Fr. Leahy said will shape his priorities as president.

The first area, intellectual vitality, is the core of the University, Fr. Leahy said. It can be measured by many means, he added, such as the quality of teaching and research, the utilization of guest lecturers or other outside resources, the presence of arts on campus, and the atmosphere in residence halls and dining facilities. The UAPC plan "charts the course to increased vitality at Boston College," Fr. Leahy said.

Student experiences, inclusiveness and interpersonal relations form the basis for another critical area, BC's community life, he said. The University community should not promote disagreement for its own sake, he said, but should engage in honest and civil discussions. Without such engagement, "we will never be a university of ideas," Fr. Leahy said, "and no amount of diversity will help us."

As a means of strengthening BC's Catholic and Jesuit identity, he announced the establishment of the Center for Ignatian Spirituality.

Fundraising support will be essential to realize the UAPC plan, and BC is now planning a major fundraising campaign, Fr. Leahy said.

Efficiency and cost reduction also provide a potential source of funds for UAPC implementation, he said, and these will be realized through Project Delta and other management initiatives.

Fr. Leahy also announced he will start a "Conversations with the President" series, and invite groups of faculty, staff and students to talk informally with him about a variety of topics two or three times each semester.

"As I being my second year here," he concluded, "I am confident that Boston College has a sense of purpose and a clear mission. It knows where it needs to go and the requirements necessary to get there. How far it will go, how much it will accomplish, how well it will succeed, are up to all of us who are Boston College.

"We are on a journey together. That journey, which I have just begun to take with you, will be challenging, demanding and daring in the years just ahead. It will test us at times. But it is a journey toward greatness - of that I have no doubt."

In his remarks, Campanella gave an overview of recent and upcoming campus construction [see story on page 8]. He also reviewed the $25 million goal of cost reductions under Project Delta, which he said would improve services to students and their families. Although BC is well-managed, he said, it must be more competitive at the level of the nationally recognized institutions with which it is now associated.

Campanella explained the three "strands" constituting Delta thus far, including the redesign of processes and reorganization of administrative structures. Over the next 24 months, Campanella said, 60 departments will conduct a review of their management procedures.

While 1996 was a "year of progress," 1997 promises to be "even a better year," Campanella said, "because we will begin to witness the impact of Delta and UAPC. Delta will begin slowly but should peak within 18 to 24 months. Many people here have made extraordinary efforts over this past year."

Fr. Neenan, who received a standing ovation when Fr. Leahy acknowledged him in his remarks, outlined recent academic-related developments. Twenty-nine new tenure-track faculty have joined BC, he said, four of whom are AHANA and nine of whom are women.

Fr. Neenan noted some highlights of the UAPC plan, and said its initiatives offered "reasonable, even necessary" responses to challenges facing BC. The plan represents a substantial investment at a time when many universities are cutting back, he said, and while expenditures will be targeted to specific programs, the major portion of them will have University-wide benefits.

He noted that several departments which did not directly benefit from recent campus construction projects will see improvements through buildings now on the drawing board.

"These initiatives are ambitious, more ambitious than any every previous undertaking at Boston College," Fr. Neenan said, "but so is our generosity, our imagination and our determination to succeed. In 1997, we do not have an alternative; we must meet the challenges presented to us."

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