Fr. Gasson, who moved Boston College to the Heights, was born in Kent, England, and arrived in the U.S. at the age of 13. He taught at several Jesuit institutions both in America and in Austria before being made professor of ethics and economics at Boston College in 1895.
Discussions about the need for a larger campus had been going on for at least a decade before Fr. Gasson became Boston College’s 13th president in 1907. Within a few months, the new leader was proposing the purchase of several parcels of land on Commonwealth Avenue and Beacon Street in Chestnut Hill. His vision was extensive; he argued that not only should a new campus be secured, but also that numerous buildings be constructed, distinguished lay professors be hired, and an expanded program in the natural sciences be established.
Determined that Boston College should have a campus worthy of a world-class institution, Fr. Gasson initiated the design competition that inspired the outstanding plan of Maginnis and Walsh.
It is fitting that the great centerpiece of Boston College, Gasson Hall, was later named for the farsighted Jesuit who conceived it––a tribute to the man whose courage and determination enabled Boston College to grow to new heights.