Boston College Annual Report 2003

James A. Woods, S.J., College of Advancing Studies

.Anthony Validzic ’03 had a good job with a major construction company, one that took him from his home on Long Island to Washington, D.C., and then to Boston, where he became a superintendent on the Big Dig. Validzic would get up at 4 a.m. each day to work on the I-90 tunnel—distinguishing himself by overseeing one of the first completed sections of Boston’s interminable highway construction project. But as he was laboring on Boston’s underground roadway, Validzic was digging through another project that had sat for years without progress: his college degree.

“I really wanted my degree; I always felt bad about not finishing it before,” he says. “It’s always been in the back of my mind.” Validzic, 30, attended college when he was younger but ran out of both money and motivation. When he moved to Boston to work on the Big Dig, he researched evening degree programs and discovered the Woods College of Advancing Studies.

For Validzic, the college meant he could keep his day job and finish his education. He’d stay at his Big Dig site each day until 5:30 p.m., then trade his hard hat for a notebook. Classes began at 6:15 p.m. and lasted until 9:30 p.m., leaving little time for study, sleep, or leisure. “I’d study on weekends, any free time I had,” says Validzic, who graduated last spring with a bachelor’s degree in history. “You really have to organize your time.”

For Validzic and his classmates, the Woods College of Advancing Studies (WCAS) offers a serious education outside of traditional daytime schooling. It’s a welcome option for students who must maintain a day job, who are limited by child care responsibilities, or who prefer a part-time schedule or the consistently small classes at the college within a college.

The WCAS was named for James A. Woods, S.J., the school’s dean since 1968, thanks to a $5 million gift in his honor from Katharine B. and Robert M. Devlin P’88, P’90, a University trustee, and their family. The Devlins’ sons graduated from the program. Students like Validzic certainly understand why the Devlins wanted to name the school for Woods. “He was one of the people that influenced me to attend BC,” says Validzic. “It was just his nature to listen to you and help.”

.“By enabling the dedication of the Woods College of Advancing Studies in honor of Father James Woods, S.J., we hope to sustain and promote the kind of pastoral leadership that is his hallmark. His deanship took into account the unique mission of BC’s evening college: to serve nontraditional students by supporting them in their commitment to achieve a college education.”

Offering the atmosphere of a small setting and the resources of a large university, the WCAS offers full- and part-time study leading to both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Evening and Saturday courses are offered for students who are balancing career, family, and academic and social responsibilities.

Some may govern with an iron hand, but Woods leads the WCAS with something closer to a pat on the back. Jeanne Moschella ’03, says she always believed Woods kept tabs on her progress, even with some 1,500 undergraduate and graduate students. “When I did well I always knew that he knew,” she says.

Moschella feels particular gratitude for a second chance after an admittedly poor academic performance elsewhere. WCAS is a big believer in second chances; its literature explicitly states: “Former academic records are not reliable indicators of ability to pursue studies.” Students like Moschella consistently illustrate that wisdom. “I did so poorly at college the first time. At BC, I felt like I had something to prove,” she says.

When she graduated last spring with a degree in English and good grades, Moschella had proved herself—and underscored the mission of Woods and the WCAS.

Photo at top of page: (left to right): Jeanne Moschella, James A. Woods, S.J., and Anthony Validzic at Commencement.

Inset photo: Katharine B. and Robert M. Devlin.

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