Giving Thanks for "Betty"

Giving Thanks for "Betty"

Ceremony, scholarship to honor longtime employee Strain

By Reid Oslin
Staff Writer

The University will honor one of the its best-known and well-liked employees, Summer School Administrative Assistant Elizabeth A. "Betty" Strain, for her longtime commitment and service by establishing a scholarship in her name in the College of Advancing Studies.

The Strain Scholarship will provide students facing significant financial challenges with an opportunity to complete an undergraduate degree in CAS.

A Liturgy of Recognition and Thanksgiving will be held on Monday, Oct. 9, at 4 p.m. in the Gasson Hall rotunda to commemorate Strain's career and the establishment of the scholarship. A reception will follow.

"The people we serve in the College of Advancing Studies have dreams from within, as Betty does," said CAS Dean James A. Woods, SJ. "Her dream has always been for this University. This scholarship is 'her' in every way."

Strain said she is delighted that her name has been given to the new scholarship. "I have been blessed to be able to do all of this," she said. "It's a comforting thought to know that it will be here long after I am gone."

"I guess this means that my name will go down in history," she added, laughing, "just like Rudolph!"

Strain began working at BC in 1952 as an assistant to Rev. Charles F. Donovan, SJ, who was founding dean of the School of Education. She moved to the new University Registrar's Office in Lyons Hall in 1972, as Boston College upgraded its record-keeping process to computers and consolidated registrar operations from each individual academic division.

Summer School Administrative Assistant Elizabeth "Betty" Strain: "You hear in every homily that you should `Reach out and help people.' That's what I try to do." (Photo by Bill McCormack)

Ten years later, Strain took an administrative post in the Evening College's Summer Session office in Fulton Hall. In 1994, when the Evening College - which became the College of Advancing Studies in 1996 - moved into more spacious quarters in McGuinn Hall, Strain and the summer school program went along, too.

"It is so appropriate that her celebration will be in that part of Gasson Hall," Fr. Woods said. "At the time she began working for Fr. Donovan, SOE was contained almost entirely in that same area. Education students did everything from taking their daily classes to eating their lunch right in the very spot where we are going to honor Betty."

Strain recalled her early days as SOE registrar, when students would receive set schedules for the year, varied only by courses required for secondary or elementary program majors.

"We were the original 'computers,'" she said. "We did the record keeping by hand. Students were locked into their courses. If you changed a course, you were charged a fee.

"Gadzooks!" she exclaimed, using one of her famous pet terms, "can you imagine if we did that today?"

"Betty has always focused on the future," added Mary Hennessey, coordinator of student services in CAS. "Every step she has ever taken has been a step toward tomorrow.

"She's grounded in the Ignatian ideal of men and women for others," Hennessey continued. "Her life has not been for herself, but for BC. Her whole career is a projection forward. The scholarship reflects this."

Strain starts each day with a visit to 7 a.m. Mass in St. Mary's Chapel. "The Good Lord sends me off on my day," she said.

In addition to her Boston College duties, she is a tireless volunteer for her alma mater, Emmanuel College, and recently organized her graduating class' 50th anniversary celebration.

She serves as an Eucharistic minister and lector at the Church of the Infant Jesus in Brookline and also helps out housebound neighbors, assisting them with mail, shopping and other errands.

"You hear in every homily that you should 'Reach out and help people,'" she said. "That's what I try to do."


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