Dan Bunch, director of BC's Learning to Learn program, is the 2015 winner of the University's Community Service Award, given to an employee whose actions exemplify the Jesuit spirit of service to others. The award, sponsored by the Office of Governmental and Community Affairs, was presented to Bunch by University President William P. Leahy, S.J., at Boston College’s annual recognition dinner.
Bunch ’79 MSW ’81, began his professional career at Boston College in 1982 and has served as Learning to Learn director since 1987. Learning to Learn is a program designed to improve students' critical thinking abilities and provide them with the learning skills and problem solving skills they need to succeed in college and beyond. Open to all students, Learning to Learn especially seeks to assist those who may face obstacles to success in a challenging academic environment like BC, including first-generation college students, students with high financial need or with a learning or physical disability.
One of Learning to Learn’s signature programs is the College Transition Program which helps about 40 students become acclimated to the college environment during a two-week program the summer before freshman year.
“There are so many students who are first-generation or low-income or underrepresented who need an advocate,” said Bunch. “I was one of those students. I enjoy working with them and being their advocate. I want to show them that there are so many people here at BC who want to see them succeed."
Students and alumni were among those who nominated Bunch for the Community Service Award, with one alumnus describing him as “a phenomenal human being, selfless, considerate, and a blessing.” Another alumnus who cited Bunch as a “father figure and mentor” said his success at BC was “predicated on having Dan Bunch in my corner.” An alumna simply said, “I am a better person because of Dan.”
Learning to Learn Associate Director Rossanna Contreras Godfrey also nominated him for the award. She recounted all the ways Bunch serves the University and his community and wrote, “Dan is the man that everyone comes to for assistance.”
In addition to official duties with Learning to Learn, Bunch contributes to the University as an advisor to the Black Student Forum, a member of the Black Staff Faculty Association, a founding member and treasurer of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Scholarship Committee and as a member of the AHANA Alumni Council. He also works directly with a handful of students as a Benjamin E. Mays mentor.
In 2000, Bunch co-founded Dedicated Intellectuals of the People (DIOP), a group of AHANA men on campus dedicated to character-building. The group gathers every Wednesday to discuss issues that affect their social, emotional, spiritual and intellectual growth.
Outside of BC, Bunch is a member of the Mass. Ave. Baptist Church and serves on its board of trustees. He is very active in the church’s food pantry and spends Thanksgiving serving dinner to those less fortunate. He is a “Big Brother” and organizes a middle school leadership conference for a couple of hundred male students of color in the Boston area.
He also is the founding member of Concerned Black Men of Massachusetts, a group that provides support and mentorship to young black males in the local community. One of the group’s projects is the Paul Robeson Institute, which focuses on the self-development of sixth-to-tenth graders.
“My desire to help students is as strong now as it was when I first came here,” said Bunch.