Boston College officially dedicated the Margot Connell Recreation Center in a ceremony attended by the Connell family and other members of the University community on September 6 outside the building’s main entrance.

The 244,000-square foot facility—located on St. Thomas More Road, near the now demolished Flynn Recreation Complex—is named for Margot Connell, a trustee associate, honorary degree recipient, wife of the late William (Bill) F. Connell ’59, mother of six Boston College graduates, and grandmother of three BC graduates and three undergraduates, whose $50 million leadership gift made the state-of-the-art center a reality.

Fr. Leahhy, Margot Connell and her family

University President William P. Leahy, S.J. and Margot Connell (seated center) pose with the Connell children and their families in front of the new Margot Connell Recreation Center. (Rose Lincoln)

“I know how important a place to gather and play can be,” said Margot Connell, an avid golfer who is part of a sports-minded family, at the ceremony. “A place that offers something for everyone. A place where all students could come [to] work out, exercise, and participate in all kinds of athletic activities.

“Athletics and academics go hand in hand. Both are so important in the development of young adults. Athletic participation relieves stress, builds character as well as bodies, and promotes friendships.”

In his remarks, University President William P. Leahy, S.J., said that Boston College is the “beneficiary of decades of Connell family involvement, engagement, loyalty, and commitment.”

He went on to call Margot Connell a “remarkable woman” who has the best characteristics of a matriarch: someone who leads by example, is present in so many ways, builds bridges, provides challenge, when needed, and always supports.

Senior Vice President for University Advancement Jim Husson expressed the University’s gratitude to Connell, citing her “transformational generosity” and “unwavering commitment” to the BC community.

“Throughout her years of engagement, Margot’s leadership, wisdom, and philanthropy have touched all corners of our University.”

Husson called the Margot Connell Recreation Center a “dynamic new addition to the Boston College campus” that has “reshaped the look and feel of our campus and has already begun to redefine the culture of fitness and recreation at Boston College.”

The four-story Margot Connell Recreation Center houses a fitness center, rock-climbing wall, jogging track, aquatics center, wood floor basketball courts, tennis courts, rooms for spin, yoga and fitness classes, and more.

At the dedication, William V. Campbell Director of Athletics Martin Jarmond called the center, which opened July 9, a “game changer.” He noted the early signs that the new facility is already having an impact: There are 8,047 Campus Recreation memberships, a 25 percent increase from a year ago, and the first week of classes showed 40 percent more activity/usage over that same time period the previous year when the Flynn Recreation Complex was still in use.

Margot Connell and her children

Margot Connell and her children, all BC graduates, unveil the nameplate for the Margot Connell Recreation Center. (Rose Lincoln)

Connell grew up in Ossining, NY, and attended Michigan State University, where she was on the swim team. She taught math and science in New York and California. Most recently, she served as chair of the advisory board of Connell Limited Partnerships, a company founded by her late husband. She served on the University’s Board of Trustees and as a convening co-chair of Boston College’s Light the World capital campaign. In 2009, she was awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters from the University.

In addition to Boston College, Connell supports Massachusetts General Hospital, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center. She is a director of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. She was recognized for her enduring support of Catholic education with the Richard Cardinal Cushing Award from St. Mary’s High School of Lynn.

At the dedication ceremony, Connell expressed her appreciation to Fr. Leahy, Husson, members of the Board of Trustees, family and friends, other Margot Connell Recreation Center benefactors, as well as BC Facilities Management, Athletics, and Recreation, and others at BC, for their talents and thoughtful input on the facility.

“My husband Bill would have loved this project,” added Connell, citing his love for golf, fly-fishing, and sailing.

The dedication ceremony concluded with a blessing offered by Haub Vice President for Mission and Ministry Jack Butler, S.J., followed by Connell and her children—Monica Healey ’88, Lisa McNamara ’89, Courtenay ’91, Bill ’94, Terence ’02 and Timothy ’03, J.D.’12—unveiling the nameplate above the building’s entrance to the cheers of those in attendance and music from the BC Marching Band.


-- Kathleen Sullivan, University Communications | September 2019