University Says 'Thanks' to Campanella

University Says 'Thanks' to Campanella

By Sean Smith
Chronicle Editor

Frank B. Campanella received the perfect gift for 28 years of service as Boston College's executive vice president: He got his way.

"Campanella Way," to be precise.


Executive Vice President Frank B. Campanella with a sign of the times: the campus road that now bears his name. The sign was unveiled at the April 17 University celebration honoring Campanella. (Photo by Bill McCormack)

At the end of an hour-long tribute to the retiring EVP held April 17 in Robsham Theater, University President William P. Leahy, SJ, announced that the interior Lower Campus road had been officially named for the man who was instrumental in developing that area of campus.

It was one of many laurels given Campanella at the event, which brought together colleagues, friends and family members to honor a key figure in Boston College's emergence as a leading American Catholic university. Campanella will step down as EVP after this academic year and, following a sabbatical, rejoin the Carroll School of Management faculty.

Fr. Leahy also said Campanella would receive an honorary degree at this year's Commencement Exercises [see separate story]. "We want to express our gratitude to Frank, because we have all benefited from his talent and wisdom," said Fr. Leahy, who noted that the Massachusetts legislature and the cities of Boston and Newton had proclaimed April 17 as "Frank B. Campanella Day."

"I am honored and deeply touched that you would give your time to come here for me today," said Campanella at the conclusion of the event. "This has been a great afternoon."

A succession of speakers - including his daughter, Maureen - praised Campanella's role in helping Boston College rise to prominence.
The speakers also shared personal insights and often humorous anecdotes about Campanella, and his reputation as a steadfast, hard-nosed administrator whose Marine background influenced his management style. The "Campanella Way," as they described it, above all meant an unwavering devotion and commitment to BC.

Fr. Leahy said Campanella, as EVP, had helped to "develop strategies, fashion solutions to problems, and foster a campus culture marked by caring and mutual respect."

Senior Vice President James McIntyre, who served as master of ceremonies for the tribute, summarized some of the milestones achieved by the University during Campanella's vice presidency, including a $1 billion endowment, a rise in faculty salaries and undergraduate applications and a $500 million expansion of campus buildings and facilities.

He also cited Campanella's direct involvement in such initiatives as the development of enrollment management, the cost-cutting Project Delta and the integration of information technology in administrative and academic areas.

"Frank will say that these are the results of many people's efforts, but his role is unique and monumental," said McIntyre. "You've set the stage for the golden age we are now experiencing."

Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties John J. Neuhauser - whom Campanella called "my oldest friend at BC" - elicited laughter from the audience as he recalled Campanella's sometimes terse and unconventional correspondence.

In one instance, Neuhauser said his letter to Campanella was returned partially shredded and with the comment "Grrrr!" scrawled on it. On another occasion, Neuhauser said, he had sent along to Campanella a baseball with a budget request to make the point that "we were playing hardball now."

Shortly thereafter, Neuhauser said, "the shell of that ball was returned in the mail."

But Neuhauser added that such anecdotes belie the "honesty, dignity and grace" with which Campanella conducted business with others.

"His shoes still shine, and he still cares deeply about this collection of stones upon a hill, and about these people. He still wears dress blues almost every day, and we are all grateful that, for over a quarter of a century, this old Marine has remained faithful to this university."

Undergraduate Government of Boston College President Alvin Barnett, '01, lauded Campanella for his honesty and care in dealing with students. "It's great to have the opportunity to say 'Thank you' to a man who has touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of BC students," he said.

Campanella's assistant of more than 20 years, Judith Kissane, recalled how a former colleague had likened Campanella to race car driver Mario Andretti. While he might have paced the University along at great speed, she said, Campanella always made sure it stayed on the track.

"I thank you, Mario," Kissane concluded, smiling at Campanella. "It's been a hell of a ride."

Maureen Campanella, '85, MBA '93, offered childhood reminiscences of Campanella as the father with whom she would trade salutes as he set out to work each morning. When she and her two sisters once asked him what an executive president was, she recalled, "he said, 'Every now and then you have to be the bad guy.'"

Campanella warmly thanked the speakers and the numerous administrators and management groups with whom he had worked. He urged the University community to be "more accepting" of changes needed for BC to continue competing with the nation's elite colleges and universities.

Looking back, Campanella acknowledged there had been moments of "frustration, disappointment, anger and bewilderment" during his 28 years as EVP. "But they pale," he said, "beside the joy of seeing Boston College and how it's been transformed."

Related item:Italian Americans fete Campanella  

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