Fr. Leahy Sets The Agenda For Academic Year

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

Major initiatives concerning diversity and student formation will be undertaken during the current academic year, University President William P. Leahy, SJ, told a gathering of more than 500 faculty and staff at the annual Faculty Convocation in Robsham Theater Thursday.

Those themes were echoed by new Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties David R. Burgess in his first convocation address, in which he urged faculty to challenge themselves in teaching, scholarship and especially mentoring.

Executive Vice President Frank B. Campanella also spoke at the event, providing an update on Project Delta and changes in the Information Technology administration. [See below for links to text versions of the Convocation addresses]

Fr. Leahy said one key initiative this year will aim at doing a "better job in communicating ... what we are doing to assist members of minority communities, especially in Boston." This will involve promoting the success of BC's AHANA recruitment and support programs, such as Options Through Education, he said, as well as other initiatives that foster racial understanding and diversity, both at the University and in local communities.

The upcoming 20th anniversary celebration of OTE will provide one forum for such communication, Fr. Leahy said, as will a reconvening of the Blacks in Boston Conference sponsored by the Black Studies Program. In addition, the University Intercultural Council will serve as a clearinghouse for information about diversity efforts and campus groups' plans for programs and speakers.

To help "re-establish more firmly that connection between teacher and student," Fr. Leahy announced that Vice President for Student Affairs Kevin P. Duffy and Vice President for Mission and Ministry Joseph A. Appleyard, SJ, will organize and co-chair the Council on Student Formation. The council will be part of a coordinated effort to help faculty forge relationships with students outside the classroom, and assist in their personal and spiritual development.

Noting that "the quality, aspirations and complexity of Boston College" has changed since the last revision of University bylaws and statutes in 1980, Fr. Leahy said he will appoint a committee of faculty and staff to review the document and recommend changes. Although most bylaws and statutes do not need to be changed, Fr. Leahy said, "I want to be sure, for example, that our internal review processes and expectations, whether for promotion and tenure or otherwise, fit with our commitment to excellence and responsible decision-making."

Fr. Leahy also announced that College of Arts and Sciences Dean J. Robert Barth, SJ - who is stepping down at the end of the academic year - will be the inaugural holder of the James P. McIntyre Chair, which has been established in honor of the senior vice president by "a major benefactor of Boston College."

During the coming year, Fr. Leahy said, he will review the work of two committees: One is examining the role of religious art and imagery on campus; the other is studying ways of raising the status and prominence of the arts at BC. He also plans to appoint another committee to plan courses, lectures, seminars and other activities on campus to commemorate the new millennium.

Briefly describing his impressions of BC and its plans for the future, Burgess said the changes implemented must support enhanced education for all students, support and recognize faculty's scholarly activities, and enrich the University's Jesuit and Catholic character and mission. He also cautioned against complacency, especially in faculty relationships with students and each other.

While students, especially freshmen, will benefit from greater academic challenge and mentoring by faculty, Burgess said faculty of all ranks must recognize their duty as scholars and members of the Boston College community. Senior faculty "have an essential duty to mentor and to provide regular, frank and appropriate feedback to the tenure-track faculty," he said. New faculty must aspire not only to be scholars who will establish national reputations in their fields and become exceptional teachers, but as importantly, contribute to the distinctive mission of the University.

Burgess said he will establish distinguished faculty awards in research, service and teaching, mentoring, and advising for senior and junior faculty. Recipients will receive a $4,000 award, plus $2,000 to support a specific project. The University also will enhance existing faculty research awards, he said.

Campanella announced changes to the Information Technology management structure, including the establishment of a vice presidency to oversee IT. Campanella said the University is taking the actions in recognition of IT's mission to support BC's academic enterprise and its administrative transformation, and to address a number of performance and morale concerns that have arisen in IT over the past several months.

Until the new vice president arrives, Campanella said he would assume the duties of Boston College's chief information officer. Associate Vice President for Information Technology Bernard Gleason will report to the new VP, and will continue as principal technology strategist working on Agora services and Project Delta strategies. Martin Smith, director of Information Technology Resources, has resigned, Campanella said.

Campanella said two committees - one consisting of senior University administrators, the other of current IT managers - will assist in transition and management leadership at IT.

Campanella also reviewed recent Project Delta initiatives, including the establishment of the Student Services organization and Local Service Centers network, and continuation of departmental management reviews, and gave an update on the new Human Resources Information System.

Texts of the 1998 University Convocation addresses

University President William P. Leahy, SJ
Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties David Burgess
Executive Vice President Frank B. Campanella

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