History of the Office for Institutional Diversity at Boston College
In the spring of 2004 the Office for Institutional Diversity took over the responsibilities formerly assumed by the Office of Affirmative Action. This history is presented in order to share Boston College's rich legacy in this area.
Affirmative action at Boston College began with the Black Talent Program (BTP). Administered by the University Committee on Black Students and Studies, the Negro Talent Search (whose name was soon changed to the BTP) began in the spring of 1968 with the establishment of the $100,000 Michael P. Walsh fund. It operated under the office of Charles Donovan, Senior Vice President and Dean of Faculties. Executive Vice President F. X. Shea once described it as a program "committed to the recruitment of the economically disadvantaged. Customarily it recruits students who are characterized as 'high risk.' Furthermore, its chief task is to recruit students from the greater Boston area." It was the ideal of the program to recruit enough black students so that they would constitute 10% of the student population. At the height of tensions in 1970, the administration recruited a black financial aid and a black admissions officer. At least since 1973, the Admissions Office had a special minorities committee that worked along with the BTP towards admitting black students, and they had a committee to increase the admission of Spanish-speaking students as well.
In September of 1971, Boston College created an Office of Affirmative Action and "charged it with the development of a plan to provide equal opportunity in both employment and education." Dr. Alice Jeghelian was appointed Director. Early in 1973, she submitted her plan for an affirmative action program, which was approved by the Board of Trustees. She later became the coordinator for Title IX implementation. In addition, the Affirmative Action Council was created to serve her in an advisory capacity.
In 1985, the Office of Affirmative Action aligned with the Office of Human Resources, and shortly thereafter Richard Jefferson was named the new Director of Affirmative Action. This same year, the Affirmative Action Council began to focus on presenting convincing arguments for changes in policy, as opposed to focusing solely on hiring issues as it did in the seventies. In 1988, President Monan appointed a twelve-member action committee on the "recruitment of persons of color." Around this time, President Monan noted that the "primary responsibility for ensuring that persons of color are represented in candidate pools rests with Human Resources and the hiring manager." Meanwhile the role of Affirmative Action Office was to suggest strategies for attracting persons of color and to offer consultation, training and orientation. In January of 1989, Barbara Marshall was named the new Director of Affirmative Action. Following these developments and at least as early as 1991, the office developed Affirmative Action Plans for Persons with Disabilities and for Veterans with Disabilities and Vietnam-era Veterans.
In 2004, the Office for Institutional Diversity (OID) took over the responsibilities formerly assumed by the Office of Affirmative Action. A year later in 2005, Richard Jefferson was named the Executive Director, a position which he filled for 10 years. Patricia Lowe assumed this role in 2016 upon Jefferson's retirement. Under the leadership of Jefferson and Lowe, the OID has continued to grow, hosting programs, providing resources, and coordinating policies and compliance efforts of the University that contribute to advancing and sustaining a campus climate that welcomes diversity, equity and inclusion for all members of the Boston College community. Read more about the OID and its mission.
The Office for Institutional Diversity is grateful to the staff of the University Archives, especially Edward Copenhagen and John Atteberry, for making this history available and for assisting in our review of records of Fathers Joyce and Monan, former Boston College Presidents. For more information about this history, please contact the University Archives.