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"Social Work is BC"

Event Reclaims School's Name, Reasserts University's Jesuit Mission

FEBRUARY 25, 2015

On November 11th, we returned to our roots, reclaiming the original name bestowed upon the school by its founders in 1936, the Boston College School of Social Work. The name change offered the school an opportunity to celebrate its history, its people, and its mission; the title of the event was "Social Work is BC." It was a title that resonated deeply with featured speaker Father Jack Butler, Boston College's Vice President for the Division of University Mission and Ministry.

"And then I saw your hashtag, 'Social Work is BC', and I said 'There's the prophets,'" he told a packed audience in McGuinn Hall's auditorium. "They’re calling back to all of us in the administration, all of us in the separate schools, all the students here, and you are saying to us, 'Do you remember what the mission is?'"

The evening was designed to celebrate the many unique and diverse ways that BC Social Work seeks to live out its mission of social justice, and to making transformation happen. More than 20 initiatives and programs participated in a dynamic "flash mob style" presentation that included singing, dancing, inspiring remarks, quotations from people like Martin Luther King, Jr., and loud cheers. The Latino Leadership Initiative unfurled a banner displaying the school’s new name, in a new language — Spanish.

Prior to the presentations, emcee Professor Westy Egmont introduced a video of congratulations featuring students, alumni, staff, faculty, and friends of Boston College, including Felix Arroyo, the Chief of Health and Human Services for the City of Boston, Mitt Joyner, the former President of the Council on Social Work Education, and Larry Davis, the dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work.

In addition to Father Butler, three other speakers addressed the capacity crowd:

  • Neil Hegarty, MSW '60, told his personal story of studying and then teaching during various iterations of the school's name and place, and he spoke of his pride to have seen BC Social Work grow into an internationally renowned institution.
  • David Quigley, Boston College's Provost and Dean of Faculties, lauded the virtues of social research and the pioneering role of social workers in creating communities of human dignity for their fellow citizens of the world.
  • The Dean of BC Social Work, Alberto Godenzi, reminded the audience of the school's deep historical roots, founded according to a request initiated by none other than the provincial of the Jesuit order in Rome.

At the end of event, all gathered joined in the official countdown to the "dropping of the G" (the word "graduate" from the school’s name), before leaving the auditorium to the Kool and the Gang song "Celebrate" and then flooding the school's hallways for a reception with food, music, and prizes.

But while the spirit of the event was festive, it was the perhaps the gravitas of Father Butler's words of both thanks and call to action that truly defined the event.

"Thanks for being a top ten school and making us better," said Father Butler, as he brought his impassioned talk to a close. "But far more importantly, thanks for being social workers who have a prophetic voice, who call us back to claim why Jesuit schools started in the beginning: to serve people with academic excellence, and that’s what you do."