New Social Work Dean Settling In

By Sean Smith
Chronicle Editor

He may not have planned it this way, but Alberto Godenzi says he picked an opportune time to begin his tenure as dean of the Graduate School of Social Work.

Godenzi, who was appointed GSSW dean last September, formally joined Boston College at the Easter-Patriot's Day break. The observance of Easter by the University community, combined with lingering ebullience over the BC hockey team's national championship and the excitement of Marathon Monday, he said, lent a particularly festive and spiritual atmosphere to the campus.

"I watched the marathon, and I thought it was tremendous how many BC kids were running, and how the crowd responded to them," said Godenzi, interviewed in his McGuinn Hall office last week. "You couldn't help but think that the letters 'BC' meant something magical, and that this is a very special university, even in an area where there are so many excellent colleges and universities.

Alberto Godenzi

"It was a very positive, encouraging way to begin what I hope will be a long and productive association with BC."

A Swiss native, Godenzi formerly chaired the Department of Social Work and Social Policy at the University of Fribourg, where he also served as a professor of social research. He succeeds Prof. Richard Mackey, who took over as interim GSSW dean following the retirement of June Gary Hopps last year.

Godenzi has made several visits to BC and kept in touch with the campus during the months since his appointment. These communications, along with the conversations he has had since his arrival, have reaffirmed Godenzi's belief that he made the right choice.

"I have had the opportunity to talk with some veteran administrators and faculty, and I have been impressed with their fire and enthusiasm, even after so many years in academia," he said.

"A large part of that, I believe, is the spiritual, Jesuit character of Boston College, and the dedication to excellence it fosters among those who work and study here."

Godenzi's initial view of GSSW is similarly enthusiastic.

"I see the school as being in good shape, with productive faculty and excellent students," he said. "In particular, I was struck by the diversity of the students, in age, life experiences and ethnicity. What I have to do now is find out what makes the school work as well as it does, so I may reinforce those strengths.

"In every place, of course, you find opportunities to develop something new. So I need to talk to lots of people, administrators, faculty and students, to get short and long-term perspectives as to what those opportunities could, and should be."

Expanding and intensifying the school's international exposure is one area where Godenzi sees a great potential for growth.

"I'd like to see where it might be possible for us to establish more ties with programs or schools in other parts of the world," he said. "My sense is that this is an overall institutional goal for Boston College, and GSSW students and faculty can only benefit from these kinds of experiences."

In the meantime, Godenzi and his wife and daughter are settling into their Newton home and enjoying the start of a new life.

"We greatly appreciate the friendship the University community has already shown us," he said. "It has meant a lot to us."


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