Kathleen Sullivan
Public Affairs
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CHESTNUT HILL, MA -- The Boston College School of Nursing was dedicated in honor of the late Boston-area businessman and philanthropist William F. Connell on September 12, 2003. The school, now named the William F. Connell School of Nursing (CSON), was the recipient of a $10 million gift made by Connell shortly before his death from cancer in 2001. Connell was a 1959 graduate of Boston College and served on the University's board of trustees for 24 years.

The dedication ceremony featured remarks by US Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), University President Rev. William P. Leahy, SJ, University Chancellor Rev. J. Donald Monan, SJ, and CSON Dean Barbara Hazard Munro. Margot Connell spoke of her pride and gratitude in having the school named for her late husband. The Connells' six children, all Boston College graduates, also attended the dedication.

Sen. Kennedy told the more than 500 friends and member of the University community in attendance that it was a special honor for him to be part of the dedication. "I had enormous affection for Bill. He was a good friend and outstanding supporter of Boston College." Kennedy recalled Connell's Irish heritage, upbringing in Lynn and the path that eventually lead to his studying business at Boston College. "He never forgot the doors that BC opened for him," said Kennedy. With this enduring legacy of the William F. Connell School of Nursing, he concluded, "Bill has come home to Boston College."

Fr. Leahy said: "If there is any person on this earth who cared about people…it was Bill Connell. That legacy of caring will live on in the Connell School of Nursing in a special way as its faculty and students continue striving to help meet the health challenges facing America in the 21st century."

In his remarks, Fr. Monan said no tribute could be more fitting for one of BC's cherished leaders. In the bestowing of Connell's name on the school of nursing, said Fr. Monan, "these two names would be with each other forever, enhancing each other." It was as though they were made for each other, he added.

William F. Connell

Connell was chairman and chief executive officer of Connell Limited Partnership, comprised of three businesses primarily involved in metal alloys and industrial products manufacturing and one of the largest privately held companies in Massachusetts. He was an influential power broker who played a role in the merger of FleetBank and BankBoston and helped keep the New England Patriots from moving out of Massachusetts.

Connell was presented with the Ignatius Medal, Boston College's highest honor. The award "honors persons of uncommon achievement and influence in human affairs whose endeavors are enriched by a religious dimension." Connell was honored as Irishman of the Year by the Friends of the John F. Kennedy Library and received the Steward of St. Peter Award at the Vatican in 1993. He also received honorary degrees from Emmanuel College and Suffolk University, among other honors.

Connell rose to the ranks of the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans, but remained true to his roots in his native Lynn, to the Catholic Church and to his alma mater. In addition to Boston College, Connell gave generously to his high school, St. Mary's of Lynn. Connell was a daily communicant at St. Mary's.

The Connell School of Nursing

The Connell School of Nursing was the first full-time undergraduate program at Boston College to accept women. It was founded in 1947 at the behest of then-Boston Archbishop Richard Cushing who saw the need for a bachelor degree-granting school of nursing under Catholic auspices in the Greater Boston area. Today, CSON awards undergraduate, master's and doctoral degrees, while offering a continuing education program for practitioners in the field. CSON's graduate program in nursing ranks among the nation's top 20, according to US News & World Report. Its PhD program was the first nursing doctoral program to be offered at a Jesuit university.

The dedication comes at a time when the nationally ranked Connell School of Nursing is poised to make major contributions to the profession of nursing in the 21st century, says Munro. "The school has always been recognized for its excellence in preparing graduates for clinical practice. Additionally, we are now recognized for the important research being conducted by the faculty. Mr. Connell was clear about the mission of this University and the importance of the School of Nursing in fulfilling that mission," she adds. "His legacy was aimed at improving the practice of nursing through scholarship and at enhancing the reputation of this school of nursing that now proudly carries his name."

The dedication ceremony followed a panel discussion on "Meeting the Nation's Need for Nurses" which featured remarks from Charles D. Baker, president and CEO of Harvard Pilgrim HealthCare; Michael F. Collins, MD, president and CEO of Caritas Health Care and Beverly Malone, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, the United Kingdom's largest professional union of nurses. The session was moderated by WBZ-TV HealthWatch Reporter Mallika Marshall, MD.