be a leader at BC
Toni Hays '74, P'04, credits Boston College with setting her on the path that would ultimately lead to her recent appointment as president of Regis College. While studying geriatric nursing—then an unusual specialty—at the Connell School of Nursing, Toni learned a powerful lesson.
"At BC, I was given the ingredients to be an empowered woman," she explains. "My confidence wasn't there yet, but I was encouraged to take risks and believe in myself. When I started to do that and it worked, I became more confident, even entrepreneurial. Now, I know it's crucial: you aren't going to get anywhere if you stay safe."
Toni has put that lesson to good use at Regis, where she has been a faculty member for 25 years, becoming Dean of its new College School of Nursing, Science and Health Professions in 2006. She established Regis' first doctoral program as well as numerous masters' and undergraduate majors.
Several years before Haiti's 2010 earthquake, Toni began collaborating with the Haitian Ministry of Health on a program to educate the country's nursing faculty, a model of international partnership she hopes to extend. As a gerontologist, she is also excited about Regis' plans to establish a unique retirement community on its campus, "a model of learning in the real world" designed to integrate students' educational experience with high-quality services for seniors.
Toni is a serious classical pianist, which she says would be a surprise to many of her colleagues. "The arts have enhanced my life," she says, "and I would like to share the joy of pursuing something outside one's own specialty with our students and faculty."
Her willingness to pursue the unexpected has already expanded opportunities for a generation of Regis students. As takes on this new role, she is still inspired by the lesson she learned at the Heights three decades ago.
What has been the most satisfying moment in your professional life?
I've had so many! As a Dean, I had the opportunity to support the development of faculty, and the growth and success of students.
In your personal life?
I have three incredible children: Alexis, a BC grad herself, Wesley, and John.
What is the secret to success?
Believe in yourself, and believe in your purpose.
What is one thing everyone should do while at BC?
Take full advantage of the outstanding academics, but pursue excellence in your relationships, as well.
What is your next goal?
I'm looking forward to bringing new passion and energy to Regis College.
Why did you decide to attend BC?
I had a sister who graduated from BC's School of Nursing in 1953 and became a nurse, and I wanted to emulate her.
What is your fondest BC memory?
Spending time with friends.
Where is your favorite spot on the Heights?
What would you do if you were BC president for a day?
I would want to learn more about the BC student experience, and learn how we could do better.
Where did you live freshman year?
What was your favorite BC class?
Two stand out: anatomy and physiology, which I loved, and a religious studies class on Thomas Merton. He was an incredibly inspirational writer to me.
What was your favorite BC activity?
How much can you sing of the BC fight song?
I know the Regis alma mater better now! But I went to football games when my daughter was at BC, and I could sing it pretty well, with a little prompting.
What was the best meal at the BC dining hall?
I can't remember the food at all.
What was your first job?
With a lot of support from BC faculty, I went into geriatric nursing—the only one in my class to do so. I worked at the Marist Hill Nursing Home in Waltham.
How do you relax?
I love to be outdoors, all year. I take walks in the woods or sit on my deck. We have a house on a lake in New Hampshire, and that's a relaxing getaway for our whole family, adult children included.
What do you look forward to each day?
My greatest pleasures are the opportunities for collaboration with faculty and mentoring students.
What is something your friends don't know about you?
How passionate I am about the performing arts, and that I'm a serious and accomplished piano player.
Who would play you in the film version of your life?