Ira Kirschner joins Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center

Accomplished leader, educator, and student affairs professional holds new associate director position

Ira Kirschner, an accomplished leader, educator, and student affairs professional with a history of success in engaging and supporting students of diverse identities, has joined the Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center in a new associate director position. Kirschner leads programming, resources, and support initiatives for LGBTQ+ students and their allies on campus, as well as for all students at the center.

Discussing Kirschner’s role, Vice President for Student Affairs Shawna Cooper Whitehead said that in Student Affairs’ meetings with students, the LGBTQ+ population consistently requested more dedicated staff for support.  

“We are pleased to have Ira’s talent in the Division of Student Affairs, particularly as it relates to building community among historically marginalized populations,” said Cooper Whitehead. “Ira brings a myriad of professional expertise from working internationally at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem to his research interests in understanding intersectionality and the undergraduate experience. The care he has shown to our students and the knowledge he has shared with colleagues across campus has already advanced our goals of students being seen, heard, and well served.”

Cooper Whitehead said that Kirschner is actively engaged in enhancing existing, and creating new, programmatic initiatives; coordinating campus resources; working with campus partners across the University to support students; providing continuing opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to engage in dialogue around LGBTQ+ issues; and supporting individual students with appropriate resources.

BAIC Director Yvonne McBarnett expressed appreciation for the “exceptional work” Kirschner has done in the short time since joining the center. “Ira has consistently demonstrated outstanding dedication, commitment, and professionalism to the LGBTQ+ and the historically marginalized students,” she said.

“His contributions have had a significant positive impact on the students and BAIC team. Ira maintains a positive and uplifting attitude, which greatly contributes to a pleasant and productive work environment for everyone. I have no doubt that his contributions will continue to drive success for BAIC.”

Portrait of Ira Kirschner, Associate Director, Intercultural Programming, AHANA and Intercultural Center

Ira Kirschner (Photos by Lee Pellegrini)

Kirschner brings to the University more than a decade of experience in supervisory roles in higher education, including eight years in international education, with a focus on diversity and inclusion. He most recently worked in the University of Kansas administration.

“I’ve been at Boston College for less than three months, but it feels like much longer because it is such a good fit,” he said. “The transition to Boston [from Kansas] has been hard. But working at Boston College—at the BAIC, with all the students who are part of the BAIC—has been the highlight. Everyone I have met on campus has been so friendly, welcoming, accepting, and happy to have me here. It is a really great feeling, and I can’t wait to make students and other new colleagues feel that way as well.”

Kirschner said that when he tells people at his synagogue that he works for a Jesuit, Catholic college, he is met with surprise “because I am Jewish, and because I am gay. What is interesting is that I am working at Boston College because of my identities and not despite them.”

Throughout its programs and services, BAIC promotes equity and opportunity, and builds community by providing support and resources for BC students with a focus on students of color, LGBTQ+, and historically marginalized individuals. It also educates faculty, staff, and students on how to build a community of belonging by celebrating identity and culture, building relationships, and fostering mentorship.

“I love being in positions that allow me to build community, cultivate relationships, and facilitate growth experiences,” Kirschner said. “I hope to increase visibility of LGBTQ+ resources, programming, and support, as well as invest in an LGBTQ+ community which is inclusive and open to all students.”

Kirschner grew up outside of Jerusalem in a modern Orthodox Jewish community; he completed a five-year service in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)—interacting with Israeli Arabs who were Christian, Muslim, Bedouin, and Druze, as well as with Palestinians—and later served in the IDF reserves.

He relocated to the United States in 2019 to join KU as assistant director of KU Hillel, where he made available professional development opportunities and collaborated with colleagues to develop a culture of inclusion and community. From 2022-2023, as assistant director for student engagement in international support services, he managed a team which provided for the diverse needs of international students, including social and educational programming, and cultural and academic support resources.  

Kirschner earned a doctorate in education from KU, and both a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in policy, administration, and leadership in education from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where he was Office of Student Life director at its Rothberg International School from 2016-2019. In that role, he welcomed and supported students from more than 100 countries, and all religions, orientations, ethnicities, and identities. From 2013-2016, he served as the school’s undergraduate program coordinator of student life.

Kirschner recognizes the challenges, opportunities, and potential need for compromise in his position, and looks forward to working within the University community to uphold the Jesuit, Catholic values of the institution, and meet the needs of LGBTQ+ students.

 “I feel very humbled and fortunate to work at the BAIC, and to be part of the process that leans into and centers the BAIC’s intercultural aspect to support all minoritized students on campus,” Kirschner said. “I don’t just feel welcomed with my holistic identity, I feel celebrated for it—and I want all students on campus to feel the same way.”