Remembering Our Colleagues
This section of the website is dedicated to those of our colleagues who have paved the way for all that Boston College has become. Consider it to be something of a Faculty Hall of Fame.
Occasionally, we will include members of the BC staff who have had a particularly strong impact on our faculty.
While sometimes the profiles here are in the form of an obituary, the intent is to celebrate and give recognition to those who made so many contributions to BC.
Of course, anyone should feel free to contribute testimonials about a colleague.
In some small way, perhaps this will expand and grow to become a "web immortal" archive of all that is great about Boston College.
Theology Professor Emeritus Donald Dietrich, chairman of the Theology Department from 1991 to 2000, died Nov. 16, 2013. He was 72.
Dr. Dietrich was an internationally recognized scholar of the German Catholic experience, Christian-Jewish relations and the Holocaust. He was the author of Human Rights and the Catholic Tradition; God and Humanity in Auschwitz: Jewish-Christian Relations and Sanctioned Murder, and Catholic Citizens in the Third Reich: Psycho-Social Principles and Moral Reasoning. He also was the editor of, or contributor to, numerous publications, including Christian Responses to the Holocaust: Moral and Ethical Issues, Priests for the 21st Century, The Legacy of the Tubingen School: The Relevance of Nineteenth Century Theology for the Twenty-First Century, and Anti-Semitism, Christian Ambivalence and the Holocaust. In addition, he wrote well over 100 book reviews.
He served on the Committee on Church Relations and the Holocaust at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. His professional affiliations included membership in the Church History Society, Catholic Historical Association, and Catholic Theological Society of America.
Dr. Dietrich joined the Boston College faculty in 1989, after 20 years on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Originally from Buffalo, Dr. Dietrich earned a bachelor’s degree from Canisius College. He received a master’s degree and doctorate in modern German history from the University of Minnesota.
“Don was a warm person with a great deal of wisdom,” recalled Theology Professor of Jewish Studies Rabbi Ruth Langer, associate director of the University’s Center for Christian-Jewish Learning. “He hired me and mentored me in my early career. He was an extraordinarily effective chairperson who knew how to get things done.
“He was very much involved in the founding of the Center for Christian-Jewish Learning and very encouraging as the center developed. Even after he was no longer chair, he was very supportive of our work.”
At Dr. Dietrich’s retirement reception in May, Walsh Professor of Bioethics Rev. John Paris, SJ, reflected on Dr. Dietrich’s tenure as chair noting that he held that role with “poise, equanimity and a seemingly unflappable demeanor” and that he was “devoted to making Boston College an outstanding center for theological scholarship and teaching.”
In addition to his teaching and mentoring, Dr. Dietrich was a “first rate scholar,” according to Fr. Paris, delivering lectures at Oxford and in London, Madrid, Leuven, Aalborg, Berlin, Graz, Utrecht, Haifa, and Vancouver.
Fr. Paris and Dr. Dietrich were friends for more than 20 years, having lunch together every day and sharing summer vacations in Wellfleet. He called Dr. Dietrich a “gracious companion” and their decades as friends and colleagues a “marvelous, memory-filled experience.
“Of all my memories of Don Dietrich at Boston College the most vivid—and most memorable—was presiding over his wedding to Linda. At Boston College, Don found not only scholarly achievement and administrative success, he also found and wed the love of his life,” said Fr. Paris.
Norman J. Wells, who taught medieval philosophy at Boston College for 42 years, died on Feb. 26, 2013 at the age of 86. An expert on the work of Descartes, Dr. Wells authored or co-authored numerous articles in such publications as The Review of Metaphysics, American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly and Journal of the History of Philosophy. In addition to teaching philosophy classes, Dr. Wells also was involved in the University’s Medieval Studies program. A native of Boston, Dr. Wells served in the US Navy during World War II and graduated from Boston College in 1950, later earning his doctorate from the University of Toronto. Dr. Wells taught at Fordham University and St. John’s Seminary as well as BC. Dr. Wells retired in 1999, but remained active in academics and writing — in 2010, he published “Descartes and the Coimbrans on material falsity” in The Modern Schoolman.
Thomas Perry, whose team-taught core history course earned him a coveted award at Boston College, died on Feb. 8, 2013 at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He was 87. Dr. Perry joined the History Department faculty in 1964, and taught and researched in the areas of English history, early modern Europe, and the intellectual and cultural history of modern Europe. His publications included Public Opinion, Propaganda and Politics in Eighteenth-Century England: A Study of the Jew Bill of 1753, and numerous reviews in academic journals. He was best known in the University community for the popular core course in European history he taught with colleague John Heineman — which became popularly known as “the Perry-Heineman course.” The two had been appointed to a committee charged with recommending core courses; at the time, the two-year sequence in European history had been reduced to one, and Perry and Heineman made a proposal for a course that covered Europe from 1500 to the present — as opposed to what Heineman called a “Plato to NATO” timeline. “From the beginning, Tom and I just clicked,” said Heineman last week. “We shared ideas and developed a wonderful working relationship. We felt it was very important for full-time faculty to teach in the core. Tom, in fact, said this was the single-most important core course, and we spent more time on it than anything else we taught.” In 1997, Dr. Perry and Heineman were chosen for the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Award, given by students in the Boston College chapter of the academic honor society to faculty members who have achieved distinction as teachers and advisors. Interviewed by the Chronicle on being selected for the honor, Dr. Perry said the award affirmed the central importance of teaching in the University: “For many years, BC’s sole academic mission was the teaching of undergraduates. Today, BC has become a major university, with a number of missions and purposes. It is important to have reminders, such as this yearly award, that teaching the fine young men and women who make up our undergraduate body, though no longer our sole mission, must remain our central and primary one.” A former student of Dr. Perry, Michael Duffy ’96, said, “Tom was a wonderful teacher, who prepared his lectures integrating music, poetry, and art, making history come alive. His love of the subject matter was infectious, so much so that I left his class with a love of British history — no small feat for a first-generation Irish American!” Dr. Perry was active in other aspects of the University’s academic life, serving on faculty panels that examined BC’s core requirements and student issues. He formally retired in 1998 as an associate professor. A native of Elmira, NY, Dr. Perry graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1950 from Harvard University, where he obtained his doctorate in 1957.
John Francis (Jack) McCarthy, who taught English at Boston College for more than 40 years and was the namesake for an undergraduate prize in creative writing, died Jan. 16, 2013 at Cape Cod Hospital after a long illness. He was 82. Dr. McCarthy specialized in British Victorian literature and had an abiding interest in poetry. Colleagues recalled him as quiet, thoughtful and good-humored, and a popular teacher whose legacy is reflected in the McCarthy Prize, awarded annually by the English Department for the best collection of pieces of creative writing (fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction or pieces from several different genres) by a junior or senior. Dr. McCarthy, who taught at the University of New Hampshire prior to BC, retired in 1997 as an associate professor. A native of Auburndale, Mass., Dr. McCarthy was a graduate of Wellesley High School, where he inspired his classmate, future Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Anne Sexton, to write her first lines of poetry, according to Sexton’s biographer. He went on to earn an undergraduate degree at Harvard University and a master’s and doctorate at Yale University. In between attending Harvard and Yale, he served as an officer in the US Army during the Korean War while stationed at Fort McPherson in Atlanta. A lover of music and theater, Dr. McCarthy was a talented pianist and performed with local classical performers.
A funeral Mass was celebrated in St. Bartholomew Church in Needham on Jan. 7, 2013 for Joseph T. Criscenti, a professor of Latin American history for 33 years who died on Jan. 3. He was 92.
A specialist in Argentine history, especially the formation of the Argentine Republic, Dr. Criscenti — who began teaching at BC in 1955, after receiving his doctorate in history from Harvard University — won the 1961 James Alexander Robertson Prize of the Conference on Latin American History for his article “Argentine Constitutional History, 1810-1852: A Re-examination,” published in the Hispanic American Historical Review. During his research trips to Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay, he acquired books that became part of the Boston College Libraries’ collection of Latin American materials.
Dr. Criscenti was a founder of the New England Council of Latin American Studies (NECLAS), and the secretary-treasurer for nearly 20 years. In honor of his efforts, NECLAS established the annual Joseph T. Criscenti Best Article Prize.
Dr. Criscenti remained active in his field following his retirement in 1988, editing the 1993 book Sarmiento and His Argentina and serving as a contributing editor of the Handbook of Latin American Studies published by the Library of Congress. He also authored articles for the Encyclopedia of Latin America, among other publications, and wrote numerous book reviews.
Born in Detroit, Dr. Criscenti graduated from the University of Detroit in 1942. Inducted into the Army, he was assigned to the Adjutant General’s Section in General Douglas MacArthur’s headquarters in Manila. He was awarded the Bronze Star for reconstructing the historical record of changes in the army’s organization in the Philippines. As an Army reservist, Dr. Criscenti became the commander of a military history detachment assigned to the Office of Military History. He retired from the army in 1980 as a lieutenant colonel.
A funeral Mass was held Dec. 8, 2012 in St. Ignatius Church, Chestnut Hill, for Kevin P. Duffy, who served for 24 years as Boston College’s vice president of student affairs during one of the University’s most transformative eras. Dr. Duffy died on Dec. 4 of complications resulting from a fall. He was 70. Dr. Duffy’s tenure as student affairs vice president from 1976-2000 coincided with significant changes to Boston College, from its physical plant to the make-up of its student body, as it became more of a national — and international — Catholic university.
This period also saw an increasing demand throughout higher education for greater attention to college students’ non-academic needs. As vice president, Dr. Duffy helped develop many key services to meet such needs, among them the offices of University Housing, Dean for Student Development and AHANA Student Programs, as well as University Health and Medical Services, the Career Center, Counseling Services, First Year Experience, Learning Resources for Student Athletics, and Learning to Learn.
Interviewed by Boston College Chronicle shortly before stepping down from his vice presidency — he went on to serve as an assistant professor and director of internships in the Lynch School of Education Higher Education Graduate Program until his retirement in 2007 — Dr. Duffy reflected on how the changes at BC had affected his own role: Where his position had once been “more of a ‘dean of men,’” it had evolved “to a far more comprehensive administrative role." He added, "Through it all, though, I think my chief role has stayed constant: to constantly remind people that students are our priority, and to help those students have the best experience possible here."
Dr. Duffy also was lauded for reviving one of Boston College’s most storied student organizations, the Fulton Debate Society, and upon his departure from Student Affairs the society chose him as the namesake for an award in debate excellence. “Kevin always had a great understanding of, and an enthusiasm for, the role of Student Affairs in the lives of the students and in the University,” said Margaret Dwyer, former University vice president. “He was devoted to the Jesuit ideal of the education of the whole student. In that connection he was very active in the Conference of Jesuit Student Personnel Administrators, where he joined with colleagues across the country in identifying best practices and in seeking to meet new and changing needs of students.” “Kevin lived the Ignatian mission,” said Director of Employee Development Bernard O’Kane ’70, who served under Dr. Duffy as administrative officer in the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs. “He believed deeply in student formation. His advocacy for students, especially those marginalized, was unwavering. At times, his positions placed him squarely in between the University administration and the students, but he always saw the issue through. He had unbridled generosity, with his time, resources and spirit. He was a mentor to me and to many younger administrators. “One of his favorite phrases was ‘University citizen,’ which referred to someone he admired at BC who took responsibility for things far beyond his or her role. Kevin was truly a University citizen.”
A New York City native and a graduate of Cathedral College with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, Dr. Duffy came to BC in 1968 as director of student services, and was housing director from 1970-76. He also held a master’s degree in counseling from Fordham University and a doctorate in higher education administration from BC. Dr. Duffy also was a prominent national figure in the field of student affairs. He held such leadership positions as president of the Jesuit Association of Student Personnel Administrators (JASPA) and the Boston Association of College Housing Administrators, Region 1 vice president of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), and co-director of six NASPA Region 1 senior student affairs officers’ retreats. He served on eight college accreditation teams or visitation committees, and made more than 60 presentations at regional and national conferences of NASPA, JASPA, the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) and various other professional associations.
His professional honors included awards from NASPA as a “Pillar of the Profession” as well as for Outstanding Service and for Support for Graduate Students and New Professionals, the Yanitelli Award from JASPA, the St. Ignatius of Loyola Award for a Career of Service to Jesuit Higher Education, and Martin Luther King Award for Advocacy on Behalf of Students of Color from Boston College.
Henry Blackwell, who taught English at Boston College for 32 years, died after a lengthy illness on Sept. 28, 2012.
The first African-American faculty member in BC’s English Department, Professor Blackwell specialized in African-American literature, American literature, and cultural studies. His scholarly interests included narrative theory, theoretical aspects of religion and literature, conflicts between culture and aesthetics, and blurred genres.
Colleagues recalled Professor Blackwell, a specialist in Flannery O’Connor, as a teacher devoted to his students and whose scholarly papers, delivered at academic conferences around the world, revealed a breadth of intellect and a passion for the subtleties of literature as well as the rigors of ethical debate. Even his introductions for visiting speakers were the brilliantly concise fruits of endless labor, colleagues said, and his letters of recommendations were also perfect little essays of clarity and sense.
Professor Blackwell's colleagues also praised his outreach to AHANA students, and for encouraging them to attend graduate school and pursue teaching careers. Many did, and kept in touch with Professor Blackwell about their career paths and achievements.
Professor Blackwell described teaching as a "constant challenge" that he addressed with a combination of engagement, care and discipline, setting the highest standards for his students. "I bully and cajole them into attempting quality work, most of them come around,” he wrote. “I'd like to be remembered for the time and attention I give to them."
One student wrote to him: "I was always amazed at your courage and integrity in facilitating the process of consciousness-raising while teaching the best and most challenging course I have taken at Boston College. You deserve an award."
During his recent illness, a student brought him a paper she had written and asked him to correct it. He returned it to her with many minuscule corrections, advising her to "tighten-up if you want to pass this course." She received an “A” on the paper.
Born in 1936 in Baltimore, Professor Blackwell entered college at age 15 — having skipped several grades — but dropped out after two years. He entered the working world, started a family, and then finished his undergraduate degree by attending night school at Morgan State University. He earned a Woodrow Wilson Scholarship to the University of Chicago, where he received his doctoral degree in 1976.
Professor Blackwell taught English at the University of Connecticut before joining the faculty at BC. He retired from the University in 2010.
Anne McLucas, the inaugural chairperson of Boston College’s Music Department, was a victim in a double homicide that occurred Sept. 7 near Eugene, Ore., where she had been living for the past five years. She was 71.
Dr. McLucas, who had served as dean of the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance for 10 years and was to retire from teaching in December, was slain along with her domestic partner, 73-year-old James Gillette, according to police. A man identified as the son of Mr. Gillette was arrested and was arraigned Sept. 10 on two counts of aggravated murder.
An ethnomusicologist as well as a pianist and harpsichordist, Dr. McLucas joined the Boston College faculty in 1987 as an adjunct associate professor and acting director of the music program (she had taught as an instructor from 1969-72). She became associate professor and chair when the program was elevated to full departmental status prior to the 1988-89 academic year; music became a formal major in 1989.
During her tenure, the department built its curriculum, inaugurated its “Music at Mid-day” concert series, and held a special week of concerts and lectures commemorating the birth of Mozart. Under Dr. McLucas, the department also sponsored with the Irish Studies Program an annual Irish music festival that was the precursor to the University’s popular Gaelic Roots Music, Song and Dance Summer School, now a concert, workshop and lecture series.
“It has been quite a time,” said Dr. McLucas, in an interview with Boston College Biweekly at the end of her final semester at BC, in 1992, before she left for the University of Oregon. “Clearly, there were many people at BC who were ready to experience music on a wide range. I think we have fashioned a unique department, one that respects all kinds of music and reaches out to all kinds of musicians.”
Following her 10-year stint as dean at the University of Oregon School of Music — one of her achievements, according to colleagues, was helping secure state funding for a $19.2 million building renovation — Dr. McLucas served as a professor of music and from 2004-08 as chair of the Musicology and Ethnomusicology Department. Her honors and fellowships included a term as a Fulbright Distinguished Scholar at the University of Edinburgh and the Oregon Music Educators Association “Administrator of the Year” award for 2000.
Dr. McLucas held degrees from the University of Colorado and Harvard University. In addition to BC and Oregon, she taught at Harvard, Wellesley College and Colorado College.
She is survived by her sister, Caye Dhu Geer, her son, Jacob Shapiro, and three grandchildren.
Ruth-Ann Harris, a faculty member in the Irish Studies Program for nearly two decades whose research was the basis for the nation’s first online database for tracking “lost” Irish immigrants, died on Sept. 5. at age 76.
A resident of Jamaica Plain, Mass., Dr. Harris served as researcher and editor for an eight-volume set of books, The Search for Missing Friends: Irish Immigrant Advertisements Placed in The Boston Pilot, a compilation of advertisements from 1831-1921 in The Boston Pilot “Missing Friends” column placed by Irish seeking others who were “lost” following emigration.
In 2005, Boston College launched “Information Wanted: A Database of Advertisements for Irish Immigrants Published in The Boston Pilot,” a website that drew on Dr. Harris’ work. More than 41,000 records are now available as a searchable on-line database via the site.
“The advertisements contain the ordinary but revealing details about the missing person’s life: the county and parish of their birth, when they left Ireland, the believed port of arrival in North America, their occupation, and a range of other personal information,” according to the introduction on the “Information Wanted” site. “The people who placed ads were often anxious family members in Ireland, or the wives, siblings, or parents of men who followed construction jobs on railroads or canals.”
"These 'Missing Friends' advertisements provide a window on Irish immigration and the difficulties that surrounded it," said Dr. Harris in an interview at the time of the website’s launch. "Ties of community and family could be broken, but the searches represent the tremendous effort that family and friends made to reconstitute in America what they had lost in leaving Ireland. The column was critically important in this process of rebuilding lost ties."
Since immigration records from that era were not precise, she explained, data from “Missing Friends” supplied names, birthplaces, destinations and other details that help form a more complete picture of Irish immigration patterns.
"The information in the ads is still important in today's world; valuable for scholars as well as family historians who wish to learn more about the nineteenth century world of their ancestors,” she said.
Dr. Harris had a personal, as well as an academic, interest when it came to the subject of leaving family and home. Born in Liberia of English parents, she was sent to London as a small child at the outbreak of World War II, only to be caught up in the Nazis' bombing campaign of Great Britain. Barely school-aged, she was then relocated to Canada, where she stayed for five years until she was reunited with her parents.
"I suppose that's a major reason why I've always been interested in people and why they move," Dr. Harris said in the interview. "When you collect immigration stories, having one of your own gives you a certain insight."
A researcher in Irish social and economic history as well as immigration, Dr. Harris, who earned her doctorate from Tufts University, was founder and facilitator of the Boston Irish Colloquium, which began in 1993. In 1994-95 she was the senior research scholar at the Institute of Irish Studies at Queen’s University, Belfast.
Among her academic and professional affiliations, she worked with the Fulbright program as a regular liaison between the Council for International Exchange of Scholars, for the US Information Agency, Irish Scholarship Board, Cultural Affairs Committee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ireland, and as a cultural affairs officer on Fulbright Exchange Programs for the U.S. Embassy.
Dr. Harris is survived by her husband, John, her children, Catherine, Dorothy and Rees, and eight grandchildren.
Daniel L. McCue, Jr., 94, of Rochester, NY and formerly of Framingham died peacefully Friday August 31, 2012 at his home. He was the beloved husband of 46 years of the late Catharine W. (Weaver) McCue who died in 2000.
Born in Somerville on November 14, 1917 he was the son of the late Daniel L. and Mary (O’Malley) McCue. He attended and graduated from St. Clements High School in Somerville and received an A.B. degree in English from Boston College in 1940 and a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1974.
A Framingham resident from 1954 until 2007, he was an active communicant of St. George’s Parish in Saxonville, where he was a lay minister of the Eucharist. He moved to Rochester, NY in 2007 to be with his son Daniel L. McCue, III and family.
He retired in 1987 after over forty years of employment as a professor of English Literature at Boston College.
He was a veteran of World War II where he served in the Pacific Theater with the United States Army as an artillery officer. Mr. McCue was an avid and accomplished piano player who enjoyed performing popular music to entertain friends and guests.
He was the father of Caroline (McCue) Gordon and her husband Michael of Woodland Hills, CA; Daniel L. McCue, III and his wife Charlene McPherson of Rochester, NY and Elizabeth (McCue) Haines and her husband John of Bellingham. He was the grandfather of Aaron, Sean, Christopher, David, Patricia, Michael, Jeffrey, Steven and Thomas. Brother of Jeannette Puorro of Los Altos Hills, CA, Joseph McCue of Hampton, NH, Rev. Richard McCue of Exeter, NH, Eugene McCue of Chicopee and the late Mary McQuilkin and the late Arthur McCue.
(Courtesy of John C. Bryant Funeral Home)
In August of 2012, John Cawthorne, an urban education expert whose care and regard for students made him one of the Lynch School of Education’s most popular administrators, died of cancer at the age of 70.
Dean Cawthorne officially retired this past spring from Boston College after having served for 13 years as associate dean for students and outreach at the Lynch School. In addition to coordinating the Office of Professional Practicum Experiences, he provided advising services to undergraduate and master’s degree students.
“John Cawthorne was a tremendous advocate for our students both inside and outside of the classroom,” said Lynch School Interim Dean Maureen Kenny. “His passing is a tremendous loss to our community, but the impact of his work and his dedication to the Lynch School will live on through the accomplishments of the many persons whose lives were transformed by his heart and his spirit."
Read tributes to Dean Cawthorne from a Spring 2011 BC reception: 'Remembering John Cawthorne'
John Cawthorne at his last BC Commencement in May 2011. Photo by John Gillooly / P.E.I.
As a faculty member and then as associate dean, he earned the love, admiration and respect from numerous students, who valued his level of commitment and willingness to help them find their professional and personal callings.
“He has instilled in us a sense of confidence that we do deserve to be successful and that we do deserve to have such a wonderful person in our lives,” said Robyn Antonucci ’11, at a gathering held for Dean Cawthorne in April 2011 after he had announced his forthcoming retirement.
At the event, Bryan Ramos ’10, M.Ed.’11 recalled how he had once asked Dean Cawthorne the easiest way to transfer out of the Lynch School. “He simply looked at me with a blank stare, like he normally does, and goes, ‘You won’t want to.’ And five years later, John is my mentor. He’s definitely influenced my passion to want to go into a higher education institution, and be the dean that he is and was for me.”
Matthew McCluskey ’11, M.Ed.’12 noted that Dean Cawthorne not only convinced him to study education instead of law, but had helped him land a one-month teaching placement at a South African high school. “I still go to him with questions, and he doesn’t give me answers. He gives me questions back. And that’s what I try to do with my students. And it’s brilliant. And it’s empowering. It teaches students self-efficacy and allows them to realize they have the answers themselves.”
In 2002, Dean Cawthorne received the Mary Kaye Waldron Award presented annually to the Boston College administrator or faculty member who has done the most to enhance student life at the University.
Among his other achievements and activities, Dean Cawthorne helped organize a drive to help the financially troubled Holy Family School of Natchez, Miss., one of the oldest African-American Catholic schools in the country. He and Lynch School students made the 4,000-mile trip to bring supplies and support to the school, and stayed to help do clean-up and construction projects and play with the schoolchildren. The Natchez Immersion Trip has become an annual service opportunity for the Lynch School.
Dean Cawthorne, who began his association with the Lynch School in 1989 when he joined the school's Center for the Study of Testing, Evaluation and Educational Policy as a research associate, was a widely acknowledged advocate for urban education. He served as a consultant to school systems in Boston, Cambridge and several other Massachusetts communities, as well as in Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Ore., and Atlanta.
An active member of the National Urban League, he became NUL vice president for education in 1995, and in concert with his one-year appointment the organization’s educational office was relocated to the Lynch School’s home in Campion Hall.
"By taking advantage of the natural alliances between parents and teachers, we will help bridge the gap between communities and schools," he said in an interview after his appointment, "and that gap is wide in urban communities. The issue is how do we work with schools and families to create new structures — structures that incorporate and reflect home, community and school experiences and priorities."
In 2003, the Lynch School established the John E. Cawthorne Chair in Teacher Education for Urban Schools, awarded to a senior Lynch School faculty member who, through his or her scholarship and research, works to enhance the education of teachers for urban schools. The chair was endowed by a pledge from the Mahoney family, whose members include Jay Mahoney '69 and his daughter, Erin '02. The professorship is currently held by Marilyn Cochran-Smith.
Dean Cawthorne earned his bachelor's degree from Harvard University in 1964 and a master's degree in teaching from Antioch-Putney Graduate School of Education in 1969. (Back to top)
Mr. Romeo, a University employee for more than 30 years, died on August 6, 2012 at a hospice in Danvers, MA after a long battle with cancer. He was 60. “John was fastidious in everything that he did,” said University Vice President for Facilities Management Daniel Bourque. “Everything he did was done with quality.
“He was very knowledgeable about all aspects of construction, but he was a gentle and caring person too,” Bourque said. “He was a great friend.”
Bourque noted that Mr. Romeo took special pride in overseeing the nearly completed restoration of Gasson Hall, the University’s signature building, which has included a complete and complex refurbishment of the structure and tower’s exterior stone facing.
“John took great pride in the Gasson Hall project,” Bourque said. “He attended to every detail himself – and it showed in the quality of the final work.”
Mr. Romeo was instrumental in the establishment and supervision of Facilities Management’s Special Projects Group – a team of skilled tradesmen who handle emergency and time-sensitive construction projects on campus. He also mentored numerous new employees in Facilities Management over the years, Bourque said.
“John worked from early morning to late at night,” Bourque added. “But, in everything he did, he was always most concerned with the quality of our University projects.”
Mr. Romeo was instrumental in the establishment and supervision of Facilities Management’s Special Projects Group – a team of skilled tradesmen who handle emergency and time-sensitive construction projects on campus. He also advised numerous new employees in Facilities Management over the years.
“In more ways than people may realize, he was very much a mentor with Capital Projects,” said Associate Vice President for Capital Projects Mary Nardone. “He did it through every stage of his career.
“I know that I certainly miss him as a sounding board,” she said. “He had the institutional experience that only comes with 30 years and he was willing – at any time – to share it. He was a huge coach and mentor in our department."
Mr. Romeo grew up in Waltham, Mass. and worked as a carpenter to put himself through Northeastern University. After graduation, he joined the management staff of the Perini Corporation, a major construction firm in Framingham, Mass.
In the late 1970s, he was working for Perini in a supervisory capacity at a dormitory construction project on BC’s lower campus when BC’s then-Director of Buildings and Grounds, Fred Pennino, took notice of Mr. Romeo’s knowledge of construction techniques and ability to manage projects effectively. Pennino hired Mr. Romeo to help oversee future University construction projects, and Mr. Romeo took charge of scores of new construction and major renovation works on campus over the next three decades.
On May 17, University President William P. Leahy, S.J., was the principal celebrant of a Mass of Healing said in St. Mary’s Chapel for Mr. Romeo. The chapel was filled to capacity with colleagues and friends of Mr. Romeo and his family who attended the Mass in a demonstration of friendship and support.
Mr. Romeo, an avid Boston College sports fan who also enjoyed boating and his vacation home on Cape Cod, is survived by his wife Jeannette (Richard) Romeo, director of Graduate Student Services in the Lynch School of Education; and his daughter, Jennifer S. Romeo. (Back to top)
The Boston College community mourned the deaths this summer of Prof. Ronald Nuttall (LSOE) and Platon E. Coutsoukis, assistant director of research and policy development at the BC Center for Corporate Citizenship.
Mr. Nuttall, a member of the BC faculty since 1966, died on Aug. 3, 2012 in his Wellfleet home. He was 64.
In one of his most noted research projects, Mr. Nuttall and two colleagues found that Chinese-American pupils who studied Chinese did significantly better in the mathematics portion of the Scholastic Aptitude Test. Mr. Nuttall and his fellow researchers theorized that the talents required to decipher the complex Chinese language, with its thousands of individual word-characters, might also be effective in solving math problems.
Mr. Nuttall joined the University as an associate professor of psychology and also worked as an associate in BC's Institute of Human Sciences. In 1969, Mr. Nuttall became an associate professor of education and director of the Laboratory for Statistical and Policy Research.
He is survived by his wife, Ena Vazquez-Nuttall, of Newton; his children, Key L. Nuttall of Seattle and Kim H. Nuttall of Somerville; his mother, Carrie (Linford) Nuttall of Provo, Utah; and his sisters, Karen Rhodes of Provo, Utah, Cathy Howard of Oren, Utah and Wendy Phillips of Solon, Ohio. (Back to top)
A funeral Mass was celebrated Tuesday in St. Ignatius Church for Judy Kissane, a long-time, highly valued staff member in the Office of the Executive Vice President who died July 6, 2012. Ms. Kissane served 33 of her 36 years at Boston College in the EVP’s office, retiring in 2009. She drew praise for the able assistance she provided to the BC executive team in a number of major University initiatives, especially in the construction of various new buildings and projects, that helped fuel BC’s rise to national prominence. But many colleagues and friends also looked to her as a mentor, as Kelli Armstrong explained to Boston College Chronicle on the occasion of Ms. Kissane’s retirement. “Because Judy has seen the ‘big picture,’ she would be the one to point out the connections between our efforts, and to foresee any potential conflicts that could produce roadblocks in the future,” said Armstrong, who was recently named University vice president for planning and assessment. Ms. Kissane told the gathering at her retirement party that Boston College “has been a fabulous place to work. We’ve done some great things and everybody here should understand that they do some very good work. “Every day was a lot of fun,” she said. “It really was. ” Born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island, Ms. Kissane began her working career as a claims supervisor for Equitable Life Insurance. In 1973, she took a secretarial position in the University President’s Office at Boston College (her older brother James had been the BC basketball team captain in 1967-68). Ms. Kissane worked for Vice President Margaret Dwyer for three years, then switched to the support staff of Executive Vice President Frank Campanella, who named her assistant to the EVP in 1980. “Judy was a team player,” Campanella — who died in 2011 — told Chronicle in 2009. “She kept us focused, and particularly kept the small things from falling through the cracks. She always believed that we could do anything, and I would have to say that she was right. ” She is survived by her brothers James, Robert and Donald, her sister Elizabeth K. Costello, 10 nieces and nephews, and 12 great nieces and nephews.
May 24, 2012. Dr. O'Connor’s distinguished teaching and writing career spanned more than half a century. He joined the Boston College faculty in 1950, after earning a BC undergraduate degree in 1949 and completing his master's degree in history the following year. From 1962 to 1970, he served as chairman of the History Department, where he attained the rank of full professor. His fields of interest included mid-19th-century American history, the era of Andrew Jackson, and the Civil War. "Tom O'Connor was a great scholar, a great teacher, and a great mentor, but he was most of all a great and good man," said Clough Professor of History James O'Toole, who knew Dr. O'Connor both as a student and history department colleague. "Students remember him as a lively lecturer, but he was always demanding. He would push a student who gave a quick, easy answer to a question with the persistent demand: 'But why? Why?' "He was generous with colleagues," O’Toole added, "endlessly reading and commenting on drafts of new work in addition to his own scholarship. It will be difficult to think of Boston College without him." Dr. O'Connor, a South Boston native who took his high school diploma from Boston Latin School, served in the U.S. Army in India in World War II before returning to Boston to earn his bachelor and master's degrees at BC, and a doctorate in 1957 from Boston University. Best known as a chronicler of his beloved home city, Dr. O'Connor explored in-depth the richly layered history of Boston, bringing its diverse and fascinating heritage to a wide audience. The prolific author's books include The Athens of America: Boston, 1825-1845; Eminent Bostonians; The Hub: Boston Past and Present; Boston A to Z; Boston Catholics: A History of the Church and its People; Civil War Boston: Homefront and Battlefield; The Boston Irish: A Political History; Building a New Boston: Politics and Urban Renewal 1950 to 1970, and South Boston My Hometown: A History of an Ethnic Neighborhood. He also wrote about BC, in Boston College A to Z: The Spirit of the Heights (an e-book from the University’s Linden Lane Press); and Ascending the Heights: A Brief History of Boston College from its Founding to 2008. Among his dozens of volumes on his native city, Dr. O'Connor edited Two Centuries of Faith: The Influence of Catholicism on Boston, 1808-2008 (2009), commissioned by Boston College as a gift from the University to the Archdiocese of Boston in recognition of its 200th anniversary, and presented at a campus reception by University President William P. Leahy, S.J., to Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, O.F.M. Cap., archbishop of Boston. The volume of scholarly essays focuses on the various ways in which Catholicism has influenced life and society in the Greater Boston area. In addition to being a pre-eminent historian of Boston and a prolific publisher of books about the Hub, Dr. O’Connor was a significant educator of future historians. In 2004 at BC’s Burns Library, these identities came together when professional colleagues, including many former students, gathered to celebrate the publication of Boston’s Histories: Essays in Honor of Thomas H. O’Connor. Frequently sought by media for commentary, and author of numerous op-ed pieces, O’Connor was the subject of a 1997 major feature article in the Boston Globe, which dubbed him “Boston’s past master.” He won a local Emmy Award in 1996 for his role as historical consultant and narrator for the WGBH television documentary "Boston: The Way it Was." Dr. O’Connor was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Bostonian Society, a resident fellow at the Massachusetts Historical Society and a member of the Massachusetts Archives Commission. In 1988, he was named by President Reagan to serve on the Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution, and in 1999, he received the Gold Medal of the Eire Society of Boston. Boston College presented him with an honorary degree on his retirement from full-time teaching in 1993, during the University’s Commencement Exercises. The citation read in part: "[You] have earned renown among peers and a wide popular audience as writer, lecturer, and leading authority on the saga of the Bibles, Brahmins, and Bosses of John Winthrop’s storied 'City upon a Hill.' Boston College...delights to honor a resplendent career of surpassing scholarship, loyalty, and service by declaring a truly beloved, twice-claimed son Doctor of Humane Letters." Dr. O'Connor was named the University's official historian in 1999. At the time, he said that chronicling of the past of a university that has played a vital role in the history of the city he loves would be particularly rewarding. "Boston College is the classic monument to the heights that immigrants have achieved in America. It is an institution that was literally built nickel by nickel, brick by brick, by penniless immigrants who wanted to make sure their children got an education. That story is really the story of the Irish in Boston," he told the Boston College Chronicle. "You come upon Boston College now and it’s glorious, magnificent," he added. “But the story takes on greater drama when you get behind the façade and look at the work it took to build it.” The Office of the University Historian, he said, "serves as part of the collective memory of Boston College. It helps preserve the distinctive heritage of the institution for the knowledge and edification of future generations." Dr. O'Connor is survived by his wife of 63 years, Mary; children, Jeanne O'Connor-Green of Milton and Michael of Newburyport (his son Steven is deceased); and two grandsons. Donations in Dr. O'Connor's memory may be made to the James A. Woods, S.J., College of Advancing Studies at Boston College.
—Rosanne Pellegrini and Reid Oslin; Office of News & Public Affairs (Back to top)
Professor Emeritus Andrew Buni, who taught courses in American history at Boston College for 38 years until his retirement in 2006, died on Feb. 12, 2012 at age 80.
Dr. Buni’s courses covered a wide range of the American experience and reflected his own life interests and concerns: immigration, African-Americans, sports, and the city of Boston. His class on Boston’s neighborhoods was one of the University’s most popular courses.
College of Arts and Sciences Dean David Quigley, who once occupied a neighboring office to Dr. Buni when the history faculty was housed in Hovey House, recalled frequent conversations with his neighbor about basketball, jazz, politics and history.
“My favorite memory, though, was sitting with him at a back table for the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Dinner,” said Quigley. “At the end of the evening, the speaker announced that Andy was being honored for his decades of commitment to AHANA students at Boston College. He was stunned by the news and couldn’t fight back the tears. We had to push him forward to receive the award while the rest of the crowd stood applauding.”
Dr. Buni earned a bachelor’s degree in history at the University of New Hampshire in 1958 after serving in the US Army, a master’s from UNH the following year and a doctorate from the University of Virginia in 1965. He joined the BC faculty as an assistant professor in 1968 and was promoted to full professor in 1975.
“He was on the forefront of all progressive causes at BC,” recalled Associate Professor Cynthia Lyerly, another of Dr. Buni’s History Department colleagues. “Andy fought to bring Black Studies and black faculty to BC. He fought for hiring and tenuring more women. He fought for gay and lesbian faculty and he was probably one of the first faculty members to assign a book about lesbians in a class. He was honorable, quick to anger – but quick to get over it – and tenderhearted. Injustice and bigotry were the things he hated most.”
Former History chairman Professor Peter Weiler said Dr. Buni’s interest and concern extended to his colleagues in addition to his many students. “When I was chair, Andy would tell me every year that I should not increment his salary, but that I should give the money to the ‘kids,’ as he called the junior faculty. It was a remarkably generous action.”
Dr. Buni is survived by his wife, Joyce Buni of Needham. (Back to top)
Former Boston College Law Dean and longtime faculty member Richard Huber, died on Saturday, December 15, 2011. A member of the Law School faculty from 1957 until his retirement in 2005, Professor Huber was 92.
“Dick Huber was well-known for his warm, generous nature, his intellect and compassion, and his ability to bring out the best in everyone he touched,” said BC Law Dean Vincent Rougeau. “He will be missed.”
Huber began teaching at BC Law in 1957, served as dean from 1970-1985, and continued teaching for the school until retiring in 2005. He had a tremendous influence on BC Law as dean, overseeing the move from More Hall on the BC Chestnut Hill campus to the school’s current Newton campus in 1975, helping introduce the first joint degree program in collaboration with the business school, and increasing resources for clinical programs and courses, among many other efforts.
He was also very active in AHANA recruitment and hiring. In 1977, Huber hired the Law School’s first full-time black professor, 1974 graduate Ruth-Arlene Howe. Former Dean Daniel Coquillette, who succeeded Huber in 1985, said he built on Dean Robert Drinan, S.J.’s legacy, and called Huber “one of the great, monumental figures of our time,” not just at Boston College, but in all of legal education. Huber’s work as president of both the Association of American Law Schools and the Council on Legal Education Opportunity changed the course of legal education and the profession. “He played a vital role in minority enrollment, not just at BC but nationally,” Coquillette said. “Besides promotion of minorities, Dick was a tremendous advocate for women in law school…by the time he was done, female enrollment here went from essentially nothing to about 40%.”
The Environmental Affairs Law Review, International and Comparative Law Review, and Third World Law Journal at BC Law all began under Huber’s leadership. The Black American, Asian American, and Latin American law students associations formed. Faculty size grew by eight between 1970 and 1979 alone, and slots were created for a director of alumni relations and a director of admissions and financial aid. He also helped build the law library from a one-room operation to a first-class, national powerhouse with over 150,000 volumes.
But Huber may be best remembered and loved for his people skills. “Dick’s unique contribution was internal,” says Sharon Hamby O’Connor, BC Law librarian from 1979 to 2002. “He had a remarkable ability to find the best in people without being unaware of their foibles, to bring out the best in a person without being paternalistic.”
Huber fostered a culture of collegiality among faculty and between faculty and students that became ingrained and remains one of the Law School’s hallmarks. “The school really thrived under Dick,” said Charles “Buzzy” Baron, who served as an assistant dean under Huber. “When people came to him with ideas, his attitude was, let’s see if we can make that work. Nobody could have been more nurturing than Dick. There was no sense of playing favorites; he was supportive of everyone. He cared about everybody honestly.”
When Coquillette was hired as dean, he inherited a Law School that was as promising outwardly as it was inwardly, thanks to Huber’s generous nature. He remains forever grateful.
“Dick was an enormous help to me when I took over,” Coquillette said. “He was always available, someone I could turn to at any time, a best friend. The school was in excellent shape. He had this naval background, a way of leading that was probably developed at the academy, and I always thought of him as captain of the ship. Everyone looked up to him…You have to remember that Dick came in during a time of campus unrest, not just at BC but across the country, and he followed a tremendously popular dean in Bob Drinan. Those were critical years for BC. But when I came in, it was the happiest law school I’d ever seen.”
Huber received his B.S. degree from the United States Naval Academy in 1941, his J.D. degree from the University of Iowa in 1950 and his Masters in Law degree from Harvard University in 1951. He served his country with distinction in World War II and the Korean War. Huber authored numerous articles in his fields of expertise: Land Use and Property Law, Professional Responsibility, Constitutional Law, Environmental Law and Legal Education. He was the recipient of Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws from Northeastern University, New England School of Law and Roger Williams University.
Huber served for many years as Trustee of Beaver Country Day School, Chairman of the Executive Board of the Social Welfare Research Institute and Trustee and Committee Chairman of the New England Chapter of Multiple Sclerosis Society. He was one of the first recipients of the National MS Society's Hope award.
Former Carroll School of Management Associate Dean Richard B. Maffei, who co-founded the CSOM full-time MBA program, died on Nov. 7, 2011 at the age of 88.
Dr. Maffei joined the CSOM computer science faculty in 1967, during a period in which the school was broadening its graduate curriculum. The MBA program, which had begun on a part-time basis in 1957, consisted of 36 credit hours of courses and a thesis until 1965, when it expanded to a 54-60 credit curriculum.
In 1969, Dr. Maffei was appointed associate dean and director of the MBA program, and along with Assistant Dean Raymond Keyes and other faculty members began a study of the school’s graduate curriculum. As a result of their work, the school inaugurated a full-time, 54-credit program with 18 required courses and seven electives for the fall 1969 semester.
“This was his greatest contribution,” said CSOM Associate Professor David Murphy, a longtime colleague who praised Dr. Maffei as a “massively intellectual guy.
“Establishing a full-time MBA program was a very significant step for the Carroll School, and for Boston College,” said Murphy.
An MIT graduate, Dr. Maffei served in the US Navy and earned a doctorate in economics from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School. In addition to BC, he taught at MIT and Dartmouth College. Dr. Maffei retired from BC in 1998.
Dr. Maffei was pre-deceased by his wife Joyce. He is survived by his children Andy, Greg, Amanda, Eliza and Adam, brothers Gilbert and Arthur, as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
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Walter H. Klein, who taught in the Carroll School of Management for 30 years and helped lead school efforts to explore the role of social issues in management, died Aug. 28, 2011 in Timonium, Md. He was 89. Dr. Klein came to Boston College in 1969, at a time of transition for business education highlighted by new accreditation requirements for the MBA degree that called for expanded classes in social and political aspects of business. At BC, he shared expertise in new disciplines — organizational behavior, operations research and strategic management — that he had cultivated during 16 years at Villanova University, where he taught economics, organized and chaired a new department in industrial administration and served as associate dean. Dr. Klein was recalled by colleagues as a tough questioner of students but as a man of high ideals who cared about social issues. A native of Pittsburgh, Dr. Klein was the first in his family to attend college, earning three degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and completing postdoctoral fellowships at Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School. He served in the US Marine Corps and fought at Okinawa during World War II. He was a co-founder of the Social Issues in Management Division for the Academy of Management, a professional organization for scholars, and received the division’s highest honor, the Sumner Marcus Award for distinguished service, in 1985. He also served as a trustee at Merrimack College in North Andover for eight years, and was an education consultant to what formerly was known as the American College of Life Underwriters. Dr. Klein and his wife Rosemary — who died in March — were longtime residents of Needham, Mass. He is survived by his five children, Kevin Klein, Linda Bechtel, Alison Klein, Joyce Klein and Rosemary Burt, all of whom received undergraduate degrees from Boston College, and 12 grandchildren. (Back to top)
Rev. Francis J. Nicholson, SJ, a retired professor at Boston College Law School, who also served as rector of the Boston College Jesuit Community and a member of the University’s Board of Trustees, died on Aug. 26, 2011 at the age of 90.
A native of Medford and a 1942 graduate of Boston College, Fr. Nicholson earned degrees from Georgetown and Harvard Law schools and was ordained a priest in 1953. As a member of the BC Law faculty from 1958 through 1999, he taught courses in international law, conflicts of law and jurisprudence.
In addition to his service as rector of the BC Jesuit Community from 1971 through 1978, and later as assistant rector, during the 1960s he was a dormitory prefect in BC's Upper Campus residence halls.
While fulfilling his roles as teacher, administrator and mentor, Fr. Nicholson found time to say the daily 6 a.m. Mass at St. Mary's Chapel for 25 years — from 1958 through 1993.
In tribute to his service to the University, and BC Law in particular, the Rev. Francis J. Nicholson, SJ, Award was established, honoring a volunteer whose dedication to the advancement of legal education at BC Law “reflects the loyalty and constancy of Fr. Nicholson.”
He is survived by his sister Rosemary and brother John. (Back to top)
John Edward Van Tassel, a member of the Boston College faculty from 1956 until 2004 died on May 8, 2011 at the age of 85. His wife Joan survives him. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated in Saint Elizabeth Church in Milton on May 13. John's body was interred in the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne on May 18.
John entered the U.S. Army Specialist Training Program (ASTP) after graduation from Boston College High School in 1943. The Army established the ASTP to ensure an adequate supply of high-grade technicians for the war effort, and John spent the 1943-44 year in the ASTP at Harvard before being assigned to Radio and Communications work. Upon his discharge from military service in 1946 John enrolled in the College of Business Administration (CBA) at BC. He graduated in 1950 and was called back to active military duty in 1950-51 to work on data management problems.
He returned to BC in 1951 and received an A.M. degree in Economics in 1953. He taught at Providence College in 1952-53, and then entered Harvard for graduate study in economics. Because of his extensive Army experience in data management he was awarded a Harvard fellowship as managing director of the Littauer Statistical Laboratory. He completed his Ph.D in 1957 with a thesis on the banking industry.
He joined the BC faculty in 1956 and taught monetary theory in the Economics graduate program before becoming exclusively a professor of management in the CBA - now the Carroll School of Management (CSOM). John was an Associate Dean in the CBA from 1960 to 1969. He also provided BC an important service in overseeing the installation of its first computing facilities, and he then provided this same service for several other educational institutions. In the 1960s he developed a Management Decision Exercise simulation for management training. This exercise was still in use at the time of his retirement from CSOM in 1995.
After retirement from the CSOM he taught at BC's Woods College until 2004. John was an outstanding Bridge and Cribbage player, and in the 1960s was part of a group of BC faculty that met regularly for Bridge. He also had a life-long interest in Model Railroading and Railroad History, and had a life membership in the National Model Railroad Society. He shared his railroading interest with his close friend Father George Lawlor SJ who was Director of Counseling in the CSOM. It is reported that they had a room on the top floor of Saint Mary's Hall they used as a place to set up their model railroads. John also had extensive interests in music, computers, electronics, and demographics.
John was one of at least three members of the CSOM faculty in the 1960s and1970s who called Saint Mark's Parish, Dorchester home. I was a student in John's Monetary Theory course in 1957. It met from 7 to 9 Thursday evenings. I was newly married, had no car, and was living in Dorchester, although not in Saint Mark's, and John, gracious man that he was, used to give me a lift home after class, saving me a long circuitous ride on public transportation, for which I was grateful. May he rest in peace.
Frank McLaughlin (Back to top)
June 01, 2011|By Bryan Marquard, Globe Staff
Generations of students at Boston College filled the classes John Travers taught in child and developmental psychology. He wrote textbooks and kept up with cutting-edge research long after most professors set aside careers, and his renown as a teacher ensured that the children and grandchildren of early students sought out his classroom.
“I think the thing he most wanted to be known for was teaching,’’ said John Dacey, professor emeritus of developmental psychology at Boston College. “I’m a little jealous of his reputation. I wanted to be a good teacher, but students were always talking about him. He had many, many children of former students in his classes, and he had them because their families said, ‘If you can possibly get Travers, that’s what you’ve got to do.’ ’’
Dr. Travers, who had been honored as teacher of the year in Boston College’s Lynch School of Education, died Friday in Sawtelle Family Hospice House in Reading of melanoma that had metastasized. He was 83 and had moved to Winchester in the late 1990s after spending most of his life in Arlington.
“He was an inspirational person, a great scholar, and a great writer,’’ said J. Kevin Nugent, director of the Brazelton Institute at Children’s Hospital Boston and a professor of child and family studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “But it was his virtues as a person I will never forget. He was spectacularly decent.’’
Colleagues and relatives say Dr. Travers never had an unkind word for anyone, including the driver of a car that struck him when he was 31, leaving him with compound fractures in both legs, a broken arm, and a lifetime of hospital visits and surgeries.
“That pain plagued him for the rest of his life,’’ said his son, John III of Lynn. “He struggled with the pain, but it was inspirational the way he handled it. He never complained. He was of that World War II generation, but he went beyond that in his sense of compassion and decency.’’
At Boston College, Dr. Travers taught for about 50 years, well past retirement as professor emeritus.
“He was about a lot more than human development or child psychology; he was about values,’’ said Dacey, who coauthored with Dr. Travers the textbook “Human Development Across the Lifespan,’’ which remained in print through eight editions. “I think he inspired his students more with what he told them about what the world was about. When he was teaching them about child psychology, he was also teaching them about life.’’
Nugent, who was collaborating with Dr. Travers and two others on a new textbook, said his mentor also “had that terrific ability to make research come alive to people and make it relevant to their work with children.’’
Dr. Travers did so while making sure students understood they need not always have a perfect answer ready.
“John found a way to be supportive,’’ Dacey said. “Many times students say something that is wrong. He found a way to turn it around to make it into an interesting comment. He would call on you, and you knew you were relatively safe, because even if you said, ‘I don’t know,’ he wouldn’t put you down.’’
The same was true with everyone Dr. Travers encountered.
“Even though he was so well educated, he had no airs about him and was so down-to-earth and talked to everybody on the same level, no matter who he met and what they were doing with their lives,’’ said his daughter Jane of Charlestown.
Born in Medford, Dr. Travers grew up in Medford and Arlington, an only child in a family whose shoe business collapsed during the Great Depression. Despite hard times, his parents instilled in Dr. Travers a sense of optimism that served him the rest of his life.
“I think my father had a tremendous upbringing,’’ his son said, “because my grandparents were the same kind of people as my father.’’
After graduating from Boston College High School in 1945, Dr. Travers enlisted in the US Navy at the end of World War II and then went to Boston College, where he became a rare quadruple Eagle by receiving a bachelor’s as a premed student and a master’s and doctorate in education.
During his graduate studies, he taught in elementary and middle schools and was teaching in Jamaica Plain when he met Barbara Cotter, who was working at a nearby library.
“The librarian came in and said, ‘Barbie, you’ve got to see this handsome guy,’ ’’ she recalled.
Soon, the two found a unique way to communicate during work hours.
“My father would send a kid over to the library with a book, and there would be a note inside for my mother,’’ their son said.
They married in 1956. Two years later, after he had started as an instructor at Boston College, Dr. Travers was paying a noontime visit to St. Agnes Church in Arlington when a car swerved onto the sidewalk and pinned him against the stairs.
“He was just visiting the church,’’ his wife said. “He always had a very deep faith, and that’s what’s carried him through.’’
The accident “really was a defining moment, but on the other hand, it wasn’t defining in a bad way,’’ said his daughter Elizabeth Eagan of Arlington. “It was awful, but he just said, ‘I love to play golf, but I won’t be able to play golf any more, so let’s figure out something else.’ It didn’t prevent him from finishing his PhD or teaching his classes or living upstairs in a two-family house.’’
It also inspired Dr. Travers to spend the rest of his life inspiring others to follow their passions.
“He had this way of instilling confidence in people,’’ said his granddaughter Jackie Eagan of Arlington, who added that at the encouragement of Dr. Travers, she will attend medical school. “My grandfather was the person who set me on my life path. He was this huge support system in our family. I’ll try to take his personality and try to be like him.’’
In addition to his wife, two daughters, son, and granddaughter, Dr. Travers leaves another daughter, Ellen Roche of Arlington, and six other grandchildren.
“He really lived the life he wanted to live,’’ his son said. “He immersed himself in teaching and researching and writing, but he also was the greatest parent and husband you could ever be.’’
Reprinted with permission from the Boston Globe. Bryan Marquard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Back to top)
June 24, 2011|By Talia Whyte, Globe Correspondent
Elizabeth Stuyvesant White, a longtime Boston College humanities professor, died after a brief illness on June 15 at Teresian House in Albany, N.Y. She was 90.
Sister White left a high standard for moral character and her love of the classics with her many students, said those who knew her.
“She moved like a ballerina in the classroom,’’ said her sister Ann Buttrick of New York City. “She lived in the books she read and made the characters in them come to life for her students.’’
Buttrick said Sister White, of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, was committed to becoming a nun and an educator. And she felt the two callings were completely compatible.
Born in New York City, Sister White graduated from the Noroton Convent of the Sacred Heart in Darien, Conn., in 1937. She earned a bachelor’s degree in the classics from Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y., in 1941 and then entered the Society of the Sacred Heart at Kenwood in Albany in 1942. She made her final vows in 1950 at Via Nomentana in Rome. She later earned a master’s degree in English at Radcliffe College in 1942 and a doctorate in English at Catholic University of America in Washington in 1962.
Following graduation, Sister White taught at many Sacred Heart schools across the Northeast before arriving at Newton College of the Sacred Heart in 1953 as the dean of students and English lecturer.
Newton College, a small women’s liberal arts college in Newton Centre, merged with Boston College in 1974. Over the 60 years Sister White taught medieval and Renaissance English at both Newton and Boston colleges, and her former students say she left a lasting impression.
Sister Hilda Carey, RSCJ, said she took a Dante class with Sister White.
“I was so impressed by her that I would stay up all night after her class, translating old English into modern English,’’ said Sister Carey. “In those days, lights went out in the dorms at 10 p.m., but I used my flashlight for my studying throughout the night, reading Paradiso.’’
Sister White was also an accomplished choral musician who shared her enthusiasm for music with her students. During the evenings at Newton College, Sister White ran the school’s switchboard. She found a way to integrate answering the phones with her musical interests.
“She would have a gathering of girls at the switchboard to teach and sing choral music and answer the phones at the same time,’’ continued Sister Carey. “She mastered multitasking.’’
Dr. Mary Jane Ferrier of Portland, Maine, met Sister White while she was a graduate student at Boston College more than 30 years ago.
“She was a creative teacher who knew how to meet her students at their level,’’ said Ferrier. “She invited former female students who left school to get married to come back and partake in her English and composition classes.’’
Sister White was fluent in French and German and was active in many academic associations. She spent the summers of 1977 and 1979 in the Society of the Sacred Heart Archives in Rome, and she taught at a Sacred Heart School in Tokyo.
“But she was also an avid gardener,’’ continued Ferrier. “She grew all kinds of flowers in her yard.’’
Sister White served as a writing coach for students in the honors program at Boston College and as a group leader at the Institute for Learning in Retirement in her later years.
She was awarded an honorary degree in 2006 from Boston College, where she continued to teach until 2007 when she retired.
Talia Whyte can be reached at email@example.com. (Back to top)