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Doherty Caps Career with Community Service Award

"I'm overwhelmed by all the good works my colleagues at BC do. I see this award not as a recognition, but as a call to do even more," said Paul Doherty, shown above with University President William P. Leahy, SJ. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

By Kathleen Sullivan | Chronicle Staff

Published: July 12, 2012

Professor of English Paul Doherty, who recently retired from the University after nearly 48 years, was named winner of the Boston College 2012 Community Service Award, given each year to an employee whose actions exemplify the Jesuit spirit of service to others.

The award, sponsored by the Office of Governmental and Community Affairs, was presented to Doherty by University President William P. Leahy, SJ, at a recognition dinner on May 30.

Doherty has lived in Newton since 1966 and his volunteerism is focused on enriching his community. He has been actively involved in the Newton Community Development Foundation — a non-profit that develops and manages affordable housing in Newton — since its founding in a1968. Doherty served as NCDF president, overseeing the acquisition of two surplus school buildings and their conversion to apartments, and is currently a member of the NCDF advisory committee.

He also directed the steering committee that established a parish council at Sacred Heart Parish in Newton Center and served as the council’s first president.

For a decade Doherty volunteered as a baseball coach for the Newton Astros, whose players were a mix of 13- and 14-year-olds. At the end of every season, Doherty would write a detailed letter to each player, making special note of on-field achievements or improvements. The letters struck a chord with parents and players alike. A parent told one of Doherty’s colleagues that the letter his son received “was so meaningful [and] one of the nicest things that had happened to him.”

“Paul embodies the Boston College ethos of living and doing for others,” wrote English Department Chairwoman Professor Suzanne Matson in her nomination letter. “Throughout the years, he has quietly helped several [colleagues] going through life transitions involving illness, moving or changed family circumstances.”

Doherty is continuing his outreach to Newton residents, with plans to help elderly residents in NCDF housing and Golda Meir House — a Jewish housing community — write their memoirs. The retired English professor is also taking on a new challenge: He has signed up to be a math tutor for an elementary school student.

“I’m overwhelmed by all the good works my colleagues at BC do,” said Doherty. “I see this award not as a recognition, but as a call to do even more.”