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Cavallari to Centralize Fellowship Efforts

10/18/12
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"I see my job as being a point of first contact for students," says Jason Cavallari '01, who was appointed associate director of the University Fellowships Committee (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

By Sean Smith | Chronicle Editor

Published: Oct. 18, 2012

Jason Cavallari, a 2001 alumnus, has joined the University Fellowships Committee as associate director, as part of the committee’s efforts to centralize its outreach to undergraduates.

Cavallari assumed his duties in July, joining a committee of faculty that has achieved notable success in increasing the numbers of Boston College students earning prestigious post-graduate fellowships. In the 17 years since the University Fellowships Committee was established, BC has had its first-ever Rhodes Scholars and been recognized as among the top 10 producers of Fulbright Scholars; BC students also have been selected for Marshall, Truman, Mellon and Goldwater fellowships, among others.

“The competition for national fellowships has become more intense, as more colleges and universities view fellowships as excellent opportunities for their students and as a way to enhance their own academic reputations,” said Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Donald Hafner, who chairs the University Fellowships Committee. “Yet over time, Boston College students have also become more competitive, as BC’s national distinction in the Fulbright grants shows. As the number of promising candidates among our undergraduates has grown, we have seen both the need and the value of enhancing the support we give to our students in these competitions — and the support we give to the faculty who guide each of our applicants. 

“Having Jason Cavallari on board as a full-time associate director is one of the ways that Boston College is demonstrating its commitment. Jason will be working in close collaboration with departments and other offices at BC, to help spread the word about fellowships among our students, to discover student talent and ambitions that match specific fellowships, and to aid our faculty coordinators for each of the fellowships.  Jason brings faculty experience in working with undergraduates to his role, plus a bounty of fresh ideas about how BC might do things better.”
“I see my job as being a point of first contact for students,” said Cavallari, who earned a bachelor’s degree in French and history and also holds a doctorate in history from BC.

“Various faculty members are responsible for coordinating applications for specific fellowships, but what was needed was a central location for students who might be interested in pursuing these awards but aren’t sure how to start. Now, students can come to me, talk about what fellowships they want to explore, and then I can send them in the right direction.”

Cavallari said the committee will step up its communication with students, especially freshmen, on the value of fellowships. “We want to get them thinking about doing research, and other ways they can make themselves good candidates for fellowships.”

Also in the works will be a collaboration with the Career Center and Academic Advising Center to help undergraduates assess their post-graduate options, he said, and provide them with resources and guidance to pursue their aims.

Cavallari noted that his office, now in Carney Hall, will shift later this fall to Stokes Hall — due to open in January — where its proximity to the Academic Advising Center and First Year Experience Office is expected to aid the Fellowships Committee’s outreach to students.

“What interested me about taking this job was the opportunity to work with some of the most accomplished students BC has to offer,” said Cavallari. “I’ve already had some great talks this fall. The goal is to have more of these conversations, and to have them earlier in the undergraduate years. We hope our new initiatives and our new location will make that possible.”