Thomas Wesner, associate professor of the practice in the Carroll School of Management’s Business Law and Society Department and director of the Catalyst Program, is this year’s winner of two prestigious teaching awards: the Boston College Alpha Sigma Nu Teacher of the Year Award and the Ever to Excel Rev. John R. Trzaska, S.J., Faculty Award.
A 1989 BC graduate who earned a doctorate in 2007 from the Lynch School of Education and Human Development, Wesner began teaching part-time in the Carroll School in 2005 and became an associate professor of the practice in 2015.
Wesner is beloved by students both within the Carroll School and across the University, reflected by the lines of students outside his office who seek his mentorship and want to discuss coursework and career discernment. In the classroom, Wesner pushes students to think critically about the myriad ways that law impacts all aspects of business, as well as the responsibility businesses have to the common good. He mixes lecture, Socratic dialogue, and discussion to create a high-energy, intellectually stimulating environment infused with Jesuit pedagogy and its service-oriented focus.
Describing his approach to teaching, Wesner said, “We are training future leaders who will play critical roles in society. Knowing that an exchange in class, or comments that I make on student work, could positively influence their thinking and actions years from now motivates me.”
The Teacher of the Year Award presented by the BC chapter of Alpha Sigma Nu, the honor society of Jesuit colleges and universities, recognizes an outstanding teacher who significantly affects their students and the academic community, and who embodies values such as intellectual rigor, moral courage, and a commitment to social justice. It is considered one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon an educator at a Jesuit, Catholic institution.
The student-nominated Ever to Excel Faculty Award recognizes a faculty member who expands the horizons, skills, and value systems of Boston College students by providing support outside the classroom.
At the recent Alpha Sigma Nu award ceremony, Chloe Lelon ’23 said of Wesner, “Although he has nearly 120 students every semester and his office is always full, he treats each student as his only one. He is attentive to the unique needs of his students and never overlooks anyone. I strongly admire Professor Wesner’s teaching skills, but I admire his dedication, hard work, wisdom, and care for his students even more.”
“I am extremely grateful, yet want to be very clear that no educator does anything alone,” said Wesner of the awards. “BC’s multi-layered ecosystem ensures that we have everything we need to be successful and there are so many great people here who make our work possible.”
"I had many teachers at BC who cared deeply about our intellectual lives, yet cared as much about the kind of people we would become. These teachers provided a model for me of how teaching can be such transformational work; I dedicate these awards to them.”
Wesner’s reverence for this ecosystem and the tradition of Jesuit education can be traced to the experiences of his father and uncle, which he cites as inspiration for his work at Boston College today.
“During World War II, my father and uncle left Boston Latin School to join the service. They survived the war, received their GEDs and attended BC on the GI Bill. My grandfather died while my dad was a senior and my uncle a junior. Ten Jesuits took part in the funeral Mass and a few days later, BC’s business manager (a Jesuit) saw my dad on campus, recognizing him from the funeral. This Jesuit told him to visit St. Mary’s, where he proceeded to waive my dad and uncle’s attendance fees after learning my grandmother didn’t have a job.
“Throughout my childhood, I was reminded often about these acts of kindness as among the most important factors in my family having a shot at the American dream. I am forever indebted to BC for this.”
Reflecting on the significance of receiving these two awards in the same year, Wesner said, “How grateful I am to teach at my alma mater, a place that seeks to provide an experience that transforms lives. I had many teachers at BC who cared deeply about our intellectual lives, yet cared as much about the kind of people we would become. These teachers provided a model for me of how teaching can be such transformational work; I dedicate these awards to them.”
John Walsh | University Communications | May 2023