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Office for Institutional Diversity

History of Affirmative Action at Boston College

office for institutional diversity

In the spring of 2004 the Office for Institutional Diversity took over the responsibilities formerly assumed by the Office of Affirmative Action. This history is presented in order to share Boston College's rich legacy in this area.

Affirmative action at Boston College began with the Black Talent Program (BTP). Administered by the University Committee on Black Students and Studies, the Negro Talent Search (whose name was soon changed to the BTP) began in the spring of 1968 with the establishment of the $100,000 Michael P. Walsh fund. It operated under the office of Charles Donovan, Senior Vice President and Dean of Faculties. Executive Vice President F. X. Shea once described it as a program "committed to the recruitment of economically disadvantaged. Customarily it recruits students who are characterized as 'high risk.' Furthermore, its chief task is to recruit students from the greater Boston area." It was the ideal of the program to recruit enough black students so that they would constitute 10% of the student population. At the height of tensions in 1970, the administration recruited a black financial aid and a black admissions officer. At least since 1973, the Admissions Office had a special minorities committee that worked along with the BTP towards admitting black students, and they had a committee to increase the admission of Spanish-speaking students as well.

In September of 1971, Boston College created an Office of Affirmative Action and "charged it with the development of a plan to provide equal opportunity in both employment and education." Dr. Alice Jeghelian was appointed Director. Early in 1973, she submitted her plan for an affirmative action program, which was approved by the Board of Trustees. In the spring of 1973, at the recommendation of President Joyce's Committee on the Role of Women (COROW), Jeghelian was appointed Special Assistant to the President in charge of Affirmative Action. She later became the coordinator for Title IX implementation. In addition, the Affirmative Action Council was created to serve her in an advisory capacity. Initially the Director of Affirmative Action was the Chair of the Council, but that was later discontinued, so that the Council felt free "to set its own agenda and Office priorities." The Director became an ex-officio member. The began putting out a newsletter in 1974.

In 1985, Jeghelian's title changed to "Director of Professional Development" and her office became aligned with the Office of Human Resources. Richard Jefferson was named the new Director of Affirmative Action in January of 1986, and Jeghelian remained Director of Professional Development. The role of the Affirmative Action Council changed as well: in 1985 it began to focus on "presenting convincing arguments for changes in policy, as opposed to focusing only on hiring issues as it did in the seventies. In 1988, President Monan appointed a twelve-member action committee on the "recruitment of persons of color." Affirmative Action Plans for Persons with Disabilities and for Veterans with Disabilities and Vietnam-era Veterans were developed at least as early as 1991.

In the spring of 2004 the Office for Institutional Diversity took over the responsibilities formerly assumed by the Office of Affirmative Action. This history is presented in order to share Boston College's rich legacy in this area.The Director of Affirmative Action was formally reorganized in 1988 as a subsidiary of the newly created Office of the Vice President for Human Resources. Presumably Affirmative Action had reported to the Director for Human Resources since 1985. In 1989, President Monan noted that the "primary responsibility for ensuring that persons of color are represented in candidate pools rests with Human Resources and the hiring manager. The role of Affirmative Action Office...should be to provide assistance by suggesting strategies for attracting persons of color and providing advice on sources of candidates and effective organs of communication." In addition the office offers "consultation, training and orientation." In January of 1989, Barbara Marshall was named the new Director of Affirmative Action; she reported to the Vice President of Human Resources. In 1990, Jeghelian's title was changed to Director Human Resource Development.

The Office for Institutional Diversity is grateful to the staff of the University Archives, especially Edward Copenhagen and John Atteberry, for making this history available and for assisting in our review of records of Fathers Joyce and Monan, former Boston College Presidents.