University President William P. Leahy, SJ, Human Resources Vice President Leo V. Sullivan, College of Arts and Sciences Dean J. Robert Barth, SJ, Prof. Adele Dalsimer (English), Prof. Joseph Quinn (Economics), Carroll School of Management Administrative Secretary Nancy Samya, junior Brandy Manza, and Fr. Neenan himself were among the speakers.
Fr. Neenan greets freshman Emily Worth at the event. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)
Beyond those who spoke at the event, it also was clear that Fr. Neenan has left his mark on many students who have passed through Boston College during his time on campus.
Derrick Evans '90, an eighth grade teacher at the Wheatley School in Roxbury, was one of them. Evans said he regularly brings small groups of his charges to events on campus, where they sometimes meet Fr. Neenan, who is usually the topic of conversation during the ride home.
Fr. Neenan's ability to connect with people was evident years ago to Evans, who recalled a brief, freshman year encounter in a Gasson Hall corridor. Though Evans said he was hoping to get away with light conversation and avoid "my penchant for wasting talent and time," Fr. Neenan's sincerity penetrated his guard and the exchange marked a turning point in Evans' academic career.
"The point here is that Fr. Neenan's way of interfacing with people has made it very difficult for students to snowball him, and this is good," Evans said. "He elicits their trust because his genuine concern makes young people feel that they matter, that they will be remembered. This, I believe, is what my middle school students experienced whenever they have met him and I know it is what countless BC students, both past and present, have felt as well."
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