History & Traditions

CSON student body historical

The Boston College School of Nursing was established at the request of Richard Cardinal Cushing, archbishop of Boston, who asked that the University begin a baccalaureate nursing program since no Catholic institution in the Archdiocese of Boston offered such a program.

The School of Nursing opened its doors on January 27, 1947, with 35 registered nurses enrolled for a bachelor of science in nursing or nursing education. The following September, a group of 27 high school graduates enrolled in the baccalaureate program. It was the first full-time undergraduate program at Boston College to accept women.

The school was located at 126 Newbury Street, known then as “Boston College Intown.” Nursing students had to commute to Chestnut Hill on Tuesdays and Thursdays to take their lab classes in Devlin Hall.

In 1958, the master's program was established. Cushing Hall, CSON's second home, was dedicated on March 25, 1960, and the following week nursing students and faculty officially moved to BC’s Chestnut Hill Campus.The Ph.D. degree program began in 1988—the first nursing doctoral program to be offered at a Jesuit university.On September 12, 2003, the School of Nursing was named in honor of the late businessman and philanthropist William F. Connell, a member of the BC Class of 1959. In 2015, after more than five decades in Cushing Hall, the William F. Connell School of Nursing moved to its new home in Maloney Hall.

At a ceremony on September 12, 2003, Boston College’s School of Nursing was formally named in honor of William F. Connell (1938-2001), a prominent businessman and philanthropist. Before his death, Connell made a generous gift to the School of Nursing, an endorsement of its mission of service to others, scholarly inquiry, and social justice through the promotion of access to health care for all people.

A 1959 graduate of Boston College, Connell was chairman and chief executive officer of Connell Limited Partnership. He was a generous benefactor, supporting many civic, educational, and Catholic endeavors.

He served a total of 24 years on the University’s Board of Trustees—including a term as chair. He also was a recipient of the Ignatius Medal, Boston College's highest honor.

A U.S. Army veteran, Connell was married to his wife Margot for nearly 40 years. All six of their children graduated from BC, including Lisa, a 1989 alumna of the Connell School of Nursing.

William F. Connell

William F. Connell

Connell Dedication Ceremony

About 500 friends and members of the University community joined Margot Connell and her children for the dedication of the William F. Connell School of Nursing. The event featured remarks from University President William P. Leahy, S.J., University Chancellor J. Donald Monan, S.J., and U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

CSON Traditions

Pinnacle Lecture

Each semester, the Connell School brings a widely recognized nurse leader to Boston College to speak on an issue at the forefront of health care.

Dean Rita P. Kelleher Award

Every reunion, the nursing community honors the recipient of the Dean Rita P. Kelleher Award—a CSON graduate who embodies the values of the BC nurse.

Grand Rounds

Throughout the year, the Connell School offers lectures from renowned speakers on topics such as research, clinical care, and the current state of nursing.


Alumni from across the country convene on campus to socialize with students, faculty, and staff during our networking night and festive football game tailgate.


Each spring, we celebrate our graduates with several events—including the Senior Convocation and Pinning Ceremony as well as the Graduate Nurses’ Association dinner.

Pinning Ceremony

The Pinning Ceremony is an important milestone for all new nurses. The pin is a symbol of a student’s accomplishments and transition to the nursing profession.

BC Traditions

Learn more about the many traditions celebrated at Boston College.

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