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Hail! Thomas Hurley

Jeremiah McGrann rehearsing with (background, L-R) students Christian Nelson, Peter Igo, Mary Aidan Hanrahan and Katherine Wullert. (Photo by Caitlin Cunningham)

Associate Professor of the Practice Jeremiah McGrann didn’t set out to be the Boston College musical historian, but it’s a role – albeit largely unofficial – he doesn’t seem to mind having taken on.

It began when McGrann was asked to write program notes about the history of music at BC for the University’s Sesquicentennial Concert at Symphony Hall in March of 2013. Assisted by a pair of Undergraduate Research Fellows, McGrann combed through old BC yearbooks, catalogues and other publications and materials at the Burns Library to collect information.

What started out as program notes became a 13-page pamphlet, Musical Themes from the History of Boston College, a chapter of which was devoted to a key figure in BC’s musical legacy, 1885 alumnus Thomas J. Hurley (1864-1931), a talented singer and composer best known for writing BC’s two most famous songs, “Hail! Alma Mater” and “For Boston.”
Hurley certainly merits the attention, says McGrann: “When we looked through the archival material, Hurley just kept popping up everywhere. He sang in plays and was active in so many things when he was a student: the St. Cecelia Society, which provided music at religious services or other BC events; the Athletic Club, which he helped organize; the BC military drill unit.  
“After graduation, Hurley remained devoted to BC. He served on the Alumni Association, and he was the first coach of the Glee Club. He wrote ‘Hail! Alma Mater’ in commemoration of BC’s 50th anniversary.”

In the course of subsequent research on Hurley, McGrann made an exciting discovery: boxes that contained scores to other Hurley compositions, including many sacred musical pieces – notably his setting of the 9th century hymn “Veni Creator Spiritus,” traditionally performed on the first day of classes at BC and now part of the Mass of the Holy Spirit – as well as popular and comic ditties, among them sardonic tributes to the BC baseball team and the Lake Street trolley cars that ferried the all-commuter student body to and from campus.

McGrann arranged the scores of those three songs for a recording session, and recruited Music Department Administrative Assistant Alexander Wolniak, Katherine Wullert ’15, Mary Aidan Hanrahan ’15, Christian Nelson ’16 and Peter Igo ’15 to sing them, with himself accompanying on piano. The recordings and lyrics are available at

Like many a researcher, McGrann has found that “one little project leads to another,” and he believes that somewhere amidst the archives may be Hurley’s handwritten originals of his works. One difficulty he faces is that he doesn’t have any samples of Hurley’s handwriting to use as a reference – although, McGrann notes, since Hurley did work for the City of Boston, his signature would surely be on file somewhere in the city records.

“Hurley was embedded in the Boston College and Catholic communities, and his music reflects that, whether he’s writing a setting of a Latin text or about BC baseball,” says McGrann. “He never considered himself a ‘professional’ musician, and his career was in the public sector, but he never left the music sphere.”

Read McGrann’s piece on Thomas J. Hurley in the current edition of Boston College Magazine at  

–Sean Smith

Consumer-Eye Views

Carroll School’s Nailya Ordabayeva, left, and Hristina Nikolova (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

The Carroll School of Management has long put an emphasis on hiring high-quality professors who can conduct high-quality research. Now the school has added a resource to aid its scholars: the Consumer Insights Panel (CIP), aimed at providing immediate and targeted data in behavioral research.

Organized and managed by Assistant Professors of Marketing Hristina Nikolova and Nailya Ordabayeva, the panel is expected to open the door to more innovative behavioral research and further cutting-edge marketing studies on campus.
The CIP will consist of a centralized system that brings together the Carroll School community: faculty looking to conduct studies and students or staff members who are participating either by taking surveys or completing directed tasks. Because the type of research dictates the kind of assets needed, the CIP is coming at an opportune time for the Carroll School, say the organizers.

 “I look at how consumers visually perceive and respond to product packages and food portions, and Hristina does research on group decision-making and interactions,” says Ordabayeva. “Both necessitate an organized setting. So we, along with many other Carroll School faculty, will benefit from this streamlined platform that will put tailored behavioral data at our fingertips.”

“This will give us the flexibility to conduct more interesting kinds of research,” says Nikolova. “You can always collect data online but that limits the type of work you can do. Furthermore, with the panel in place, we will be able to devote more time to teaching and exploring bigger research questions. It will just make logistics easier.”

The pair adds that the CIP could be a significant factor in attracting new faculty to the Carroll School.

 “I think we’re doing this at the right time,” says Ordabayeva. “Because so many of us are interested in doing the type of work that requires a certain degree of organization, we all see the value of the panel.”

The Consumer Insights Panel is now recruiting students and staff to register as panelists, who will be paid $5 in cash for every 30 minutes of participation. To sign up, go to; for more information, e-mail

–Sean Hennessey

St. Mary's Hall

Michael Ford, SJ, celebrating the 8a.m. Mass on Monday in St. Mary's Chapel (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

Workers were still tinkering outside and around St. Mary’s Hall early Monday morning as a crowd began to gather inside the St. Mary’s Chapel. At 8 a.m., Boston College Jesuit Community Rector Robert Keane, SJ, and Assistant Rector and Administrator Michael Ford, SJ, entered the chapel to celebrate Mass – and in so doing, formally mark the reopening of St. Mary’s after a nearly two-year renovation project.

“We’ve returned to our home,” said Fr. Ford, smiling at the audience as he began the Mass, which coincided with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

The St. Mary’s project, which began in January of 2013, involved extensive work on both the interior and exterior of one of BC’s oldest buildings, home of the University’s principal Jesuit community. Resident Jesuits who had relocated elsewhere on campus during the renovation began returning this week to the 97-year-old building.

Next month, St. Mary’s will become the new location for the Communication and Computer Science departments, as well as the Woods College of Advancing Studies.

During prayers, Fr. Ford briefly referred to the transitional period ahead and asked that the “move to St. Mary’s be a smooth one.”

A feature examining the renovated St. Mary’s Hall will run in Chronicle next month.

–Sean Smith