With logistical oversight of some 12,000 annual campus events, the Department of Event Management — a division of Auxiliary Services — is laser-focused on planning and executing successful conferences, receptions, meetings and other gatherings at Boston College. Formerly the Bureau of Conferences, the department provides centralized concierge-style service to assist event planners with reservations for rooms, catering, audiovisual, and other needs. The event-packed semester is well underway, and with demand for space at a premium, Director of Event Management Jason McClellan offers some policy guidelines and reminders for University community members who seek the department’s comprehensive services.

Jason McClellan
Jason McClellan

Give us an overview of your department’s operations.

We support the room reservations and events that take place on BC’s Chestnut Hill, Brighton and Newton campuses. We partner with individuals in and outside of the BC community to plan all logistical aspects of events. With a focus on customer service, we are the single point of contact for all University resources related to seamless event execution. Our six-member team provides assistance in everything from room reservations and arrangements, timeline, catering and menu selection, flowers, audiovisual guidance and, if necessary, tents, rental and musical equipment.

Whether you are hosting a meeting, multi-day conference or a summer program, Event Management has the resources and expertise to make your event a success. We are here to help with logistics and to support the University’s academic and social mission in accordance with our Catholic, Jesuit heritage.

Why was it necessary, a few years back, to implement charges to University clients for the use of campus conference and function rooms managed by your department? What “behind-the-scenes” work do these charges cover?  

The charges, which have been in effect since June 1, 2014, resulted from an operational efficiency study to address the needs of a self-sustaining event and conference operation at Boston College. External events allow us to generate new revenues to reduce the shared expenses of our department to the University community.

The rooms we manage include the University Conference Center at 2101 Commonwealth Avenue, the Heights and Murray rooms, Gasson Hall 100 and Barat House. University community members may arrange to use these spaces via arrangements through the Agora Portal six months in advance of the current date.  If major events require a date further out, we ask that clients contact us.

Total event time includes the set-up and clean-up time. Most spaces on campus require a gap between events to allow for turnaround time between reservations. “Lead time” is the time gap before an event; “hang time” is the time gap after an event. Conference rooms require a half-hour of lead/hang time on average, while function rooms often require a minimum of two to three hours. Room reservations over the lunch hour are charged as full-day reservations.

Are there instances where the room charge would be waived, and if so, under what circumstances?

Exempt from room charges are Commencement Weekend, Parents’ Weekend, Board of Trustees events, Alumni Weekend, First Year Experience summer orientation sessions, University Mission and Ministry masses and religious ceremonies, University undergraduate/graduate/professional and admitted student recruitment and orientation programs.  We also provide free space and support to employers who visit campus through the Career Center.  Recognized BC student groups are provided free space and support as well.

What is the policy for the use of campus classrooms and auditoriums?

We also manage classroom and auditorium spaces once they’ve been scheduled by Student Services, which releases the room inventory to us six to eight weeks before the start of the semester. These classrooms and auditoriums are free for use by internal groups, which include University-recognized student groups.

How does Event Management share in the University’s social justice mission?

When you book an event through our department, you support Boston College’s values. This includes important priorities, such as providing fair-living wages to staff members, supporting sustainable culinary practices in our kitchens, and renewing resources within the community. In addition to University events, Event Management supports community events such as local high school graduation ceremonies and other events important to the communities in which BC resides.

Given the size and scope of the BC community, the demand for space is high. How do you deal with clients who want to book more than one campus venue for an event, to ensure that they have a space available on a given date?

We discourage this practice because it reduces your colleagues’ ability to host unique programming on campus, and consequently, reduces space utilization.

How does BC’s Event Management operation compare with our peer schools?

Event Management is in line with our peer schools, and we continue to refine our program and offerings.

Any final advice or guidelines to share with potential Event Management clients in the University community?

Some “Event Planning 101” advice: Contact us as soon as you know you’re having an event, because the sooner we know, the more efficient and cost-effective your event will be. If an event cancellation is necessary, we require clients to notify Event Management, via email, at least 10 business days in advance, in order to avoid a cancellation fee equal to the room rental rate. For catering cancellations within three business days prior to the event, a cancellation fee equal to the estimated charges will be due. Event planning-suggested timelines and more information on related administrative and other fees are available on our website.

–Rosanne Pellegrini University Communications