Campus Digest: Winter 2021

Happenings from around Boston College.

Boston College EMS

January marked the start of the 25th year for BC EMS, a student-run emergency medical care team that was born from tragedy. In January 1997, Kevin Eidt ’00 died of a cardiac arrest during an intramural basketball game at the William J. Flynn Recreation Complex. Eidt’s passing inspired classmate Mark Ritchie ’00 to establish BC EMS so medical assistance would be more easily accessible on campus. The service’s enduring legacy has been a comfort for Eidt’s grieving family. “You never get over the loss of a child,” said his father, Chris Eidt ’66, P’92, ’95, ’00, of Norwalk, Connecticut. “But watching Mark step up and build this organization that is still such a large part of life on campus today has been beautiful.”

Shan Rizwan

Curious about the life of a college student during a pandemic? Tune into Shan Rizwan’s YouTube channel. The 21-year-old economics major (right) guides his more than 69,000 followers around campus, from one hand-sanitizing station to the next, offering a taste of quarantine life at BC. “There’s not a lot of people making videos about this moment, especially not with in-person classes,” said Rizwan ’21. “I feel like I’m documenting history.” 

BC has hired its most diverse cohort of faculty in at least fifteen years. Of the forty-nine full-time faculty members recruited to the University for the 2020–2021 academic year, 57 percent are women and 39 percent are AHANA (people of African, Hispanic, Asian, or Native American descent). “It creates momentum for other people of color and women to join the BC faculty,” Vice Provost for Faculties Billy Soo said. “This, in turn, can help in recruiting AHANA and female students—when they see professors who look like themselves, they appreciate the opportunities higher education presents.”

The Institute for Scientific Research at Boston College received a $5.3 million grant from the U.S. Air Force to fund the Space Chemistry, Reactivity, and Modeling (SCRAM) project. The five-year contract will aid BC researchers in Albuquerque, New Mexico, who are using physical chemistry to understand the impact of chemical releases, thruster plumes, and natural phenomena of the space environment.

Sister Thea Bowman

To help amplify Black voices on campus, Campus Ministry has launched a series of talks on YouTube called “Preaching from Sister Thea’s Kitchen.” The series, which explores the intersection of scripture and racial justice, is named for Sister Thea Bowman (left), who received an honorary doctorate of religion from the University in 1989. “Our hope, as the preaching series continues throughout the year, is to honor the legacy of Sister Thea by centering Black voices of faith from the BC community,” said Campus Ministry Associate Director Ryan Heffernan. Bowman, who is the namesake of BC’s Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center, was known for integrating Catholic tradition with Black spirituality.

The School of Theology and Ministry, in collaboration with the School of Social Work, has launched a new certificate program designed to educate Latinos interested in serving as leaders in their parishes. Taught entirely in Spanish, it will encompass theology and spirituality, as well as social issues in Hispanic communities.

The Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society hosted a discussion on “Challenging Environmental Racism: From the Local to the Global” in December, as part of the BC Forum on Racial Justice in America. “The Schiller Institute is taking on the battle against environmental racism,” said Laura J. Steinberg, the institute’s executive director. “As one of the links in the chain of structural racism, environmental racism reaches deep into the lifeblood of communities, causing an accumulation of environmental harms that threaten the health of residents, robbing them of open space, and eroding the value and cohesion of neighborhoods.”

Big number 35


Boston College's place in the 2021 survey of national universities by U.S. News and World Report, an increase of two points from last year's rankings.

James W. Skehan, SJ


James W. Skehan, SJ, a renowned geologist, founder of BC’s Geology Department, and longtime director of the Weston Observatory, died in November. He was 97. “Father Jim was not just a great scientist and educator, he was a mentor and friend to many people he encountered in the many dimensions of his long and very full life,” said BC Associate Professor Alan Kafka, the current director of the Weston Observatory. “He loved teaching people of all ages about the wonders of planet Earth, and also loved being engaged in all aspects of the fullness of life.” A 500-million-year- old genus of trilobite—an extinct marine arthropod vaguely resembling a horseshoe crab—discovered in 2002 was named Skehanos to honor Skehan’s contributions to earth science.

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