Speaking at University Convocation on August 31, Boston College President William P. Leahy, S.J., pointed to BC’s “distinctive heritage and mission” as a valuable asset in confronting major crises and controversies of our times—especially as a means to rise above political and social divisions and reaffirm “our commitment to democracy, civility, and the rule of law.
“Each age has its challenges, and given its religious and intellectual heritage, I believe Boston College has a special obligation and opportunity to model how to engage and help resolve troubling issues through careful listening, honest and respectful dialogue, and commitment to truth and the common good,” he said. “Such attitudes and actions reflect our democratic roots, belief in human dignity, and the value of each person.”
Along with offering big-picture perspectives on Boston College’s academic and formational roles, Fr. Leahy reviewed the University’s progress on several fronts, including fundraising over the past year, and hailed important recent developments in international engagement that signify BC’s strengthened global profile.
Provost and Dean of Faculties David Quigley and Executive Vice President Michael Lochhead also spoke at Convocation, which was held in Robsham Theater.
The past several months have seen significant changes in the University’s senior leadership, Fr. Leahy said: Michael McCarthy, S.J., became dean of the School of Theology and Ministry; Blake James assumed the post of William V. Campbell Director of Intercollegiate Athletics; Erick Berrelleza, S.J., was appointed as founding dean of Messina College, part of BC’s Pine Manor Institute for Student Success; and Amy Yancey was named as acting senior vice president for University Advancement with the departure next month of James Husson.
Even as BC undergoes these and other transitions, it has continued to meet many fundraising goals to support key institutional objectives. The University received commitments of $315.7 million in fiscal year 2022, said Fr. Leahy, including $204.4 million in cash—compared to $56.6 million 20 years ago. He lauded the success of the Be a Beacon Campaign for financial aid, which was launched two years ago with a goal of $125 million, and now stands at $254.7 million, having received $101.4 million in the past year alone. Faculty and research priorities received $172.7 million, he added, and athletics $49.3 million in FY22.
“Keeping this positive trend going is a major challenge and commitment,” said Fr. Leahy, who added that the willingness of faculty members and others in the University community to meet and speak with potential donors has had “a major impact.”
Another important area of growth for Boston College is its international presence, especially in Jesuit and Catholic education, said Fr. Leahy, who listed major programs and events involving—and in most cases hosted by—the University in recent months. These included a pilgrimage to historical sites associated with St. Ignatius, as well as assemblies of the Strategic Alliance of Catholic Research Universities, the International Federation of Catholic Universities, as the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies International Symposium on Jesuit History and the Church, and the International Association of Jesuit Universities—which featured an appearance by Jesuit Superior General Arturo Sosa, S.J. BC also hosted a conference for the International Association of Jesuit Engineering Schools, despite the fact that the University, while offering a program in human-centered engineering, does not have an engineering school.
“These events are worthy of notice because they reflect successful efforts to increase knowledge of BC and to strengthen our global profile and connections,” he said. “More than 600 people from Europe, North and South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia came to Boston College. I think participants left impressed and much more knowledgeable about our mission, goals, and programs.”
“Each age has its challenges, and given its religious and intellectual heritage, I believe Boston College has a special obligation and opportunity to model how to engage and help resolve troubling issues through careful listening, honest and respectful dialogue, and commitment to truth and the common good. Such attitudes and actions reflect our democratic roots, belief in human dignity, and the value of each person. ”
Lochhead described BC’s financial picture as a largely positive one. FY22 saw a strong operating performance driven by increases in undergraduate and graduate enrollment and shrewd management of expenses, he said. With a solid credit rating and generally stable outlook, along with effective integrated planning in strategic, capital, and operational areas, BC is well positioned to weather the impact of inflation in areas such as tuition costs and financial aid, salaries and wages, and construction and borrowing costs.
During his talk, Lochhead spoke about recently completed capital projects—notably the new science facility at 245 Beacon Street and the Ricci Institute for Chinese-Western Cultural History—and others under way, such as the Hoag Pavilion. He also touched on University-wide initiatives such as sustainability efforts, the roll-out of the Eagle Apps student information services, and the Ignatian Leadership Development Program under Human Resources, and updated the timeline for creation of BC’s next institutional master plan, projected to be approved in the fall of next year.
Quigley singled out recent initiatives he said exemplify the University’s mission in academics and formation and its commitment to excellence, including the BC Prison Education Program at MCI-Shirley (in which he has taught American history), and the programs in Human-Centered Engineering and Global Public Health and the Common Good.
He also discussed the life and work of two members of the academic community who died during the past summer: Rev. Michael Himes, retired professor of theology, and Michael Martin, who taught in the Morrissey College of Arts and Science Honors Program and later served as an associate dean for Morrissey College. Their devotion to students and colleagues, and to BC’s institutional values, he said, serve as a model for the well-rounded education the University seeks to provide.
Combined with robust undergraduate and graduate enrollments and the addition of 63 new faculty members this year, said Quigley, BC is poised to fulfill its unique charge.
“I think there is an ongoing sense of renewal here, one that shapes much of our thinking. It’s that renewal which brings imagination and passion into our teaching and research.”
Sean Smith | University Communications | September 2022