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Office of News & Public Affairs

$20M Lynch gift will launch leadership academy

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. (6-20-10) – A new educational leadership academy – the first in the nation to jointly train and support new principals from Catholic, public and charter schools – will be funded at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education by a $20 million gift from Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch, long-time supporters of educational initiatives and benefactors to Boston College and Boston’s inner-city Catholic schools.

Carolyn and Peter Lynch (Photo by Gary Wayne Gilbert)

Peter Lynch, a 1965 Boston College graduate who is vice chairman of Fidelity Management and Research Co., and his wife Carolyn, a noted philanthropist and the president and CEO of the Lynch Foundation, made the gift that will create the Lynch Leadership Academy to further their commitment to improving the educational experience at schools throughout the Boston area.

“Education in the early grades is the most important issue in America,” said Peter Lynch. “The principal is the key individual who can affect everyone in the school.  Carolyn and I have always looked for ways in which we can help provide opportunities for young people to have meaningful lives.  For us the essential ingredient is education, and this academy will help to improve educational leadership at public, charter and urban-centered parochial schools.” 

Added Carolyn Lynch, “Principals have one of the most demanding and important jobs in America. My father was a lifelong educator and principal, so I know how critical it is that they receive the best training and support available.  Lynch Leadership Academy will use the resources of the Lynch School and Boston College to prepare the next generation of leaders for our Catholic, public and charter schools.”

In announcing the gift, Boston College President William P. Leahy, SJ, praised the Lynches for their commitment to improving education for all children.  “Carolyn and Peter Lynch have done so much on behalf of public and parochial education in the Greater Boston area,” said Fr. Leahy. “The establishment of the Lynch Leadership Academy demonstrates their commitment to providing the training to prepare effective leaders for Catholic, public and charter schools.” 

In addition to the faculty and staff of the Lynch School, the Lynch Leadership Academy will draw on expertise from Boston College’s Carroll School of Management, Winston Center for Leadership and Ethics, Connell School of Nursing, Graduate School of Social Work and Law School, as well as successful school leaders from Boston-area Catholic, public and charter schools.

“Carolyn and Peter are among the first to recognize that the leaders of our Catholic, public and charter schools all now face a similar agenda to improve instruction, raise student achievement, develop faculty and revitalize facilities,” said Lynch School Dean Joseph M. O’Keefe, SJ. “The Lynch Leadership Academy will bring together a diverse group of faculty experts from the BC campus, as well as education leaders from around the country, to build a new framework of leadership for the betterment of all children in our cities.”

The Lynch Leadership Academy will award 25 fellowships annually, accepting nominations from superintendents and leaders in the Catholic, public and charter school sectors. The fellows will attend a leadership retreat, a two-week summer institute, monthly workshops, and weekly sessions with leadership coaches, as well as participate in an online community to foster ongoing communication and networking among the fellows. Upon completion of the program, the fellows will receive three graduate school credits and a Certificate in School Leadership.

The fellows will be drawn from the leadership of Boston’s 135 public schools, 16 charter schools and the 135 schools of the Archdiocese of Boston. Fr. O’Keefe estimates that within the first five years approximately 45 percent of these school leaders will have graduated from the Lynch Academy. Fr. O’Keefe said they must be prepared for an increasingly complex job.

“The thriving urban schools of 40 years ago now encounter rising debt, outdated facilities and obsolete technologies,” Fr. O’Keefe said. “There is an acute need for cutting-edge curriculum and instructional design, sophisticated assessment, and whole-child student supports. Successful leaders – in Catholic, public and charter schools – require training in a diverse spectrum of fields, including fiscal management, organizational studies, cultural competency, educational technologies, ethics, social work and law. To make a difference in poorly performing or failing schools, leaders need knowledge, vision, creativity and an ability to manage both incremental and radical change.  It is our hope that the Lynch Academy will create a network of colleagues who have these skills.”

The Lynches have played a critical role in the advancement of BC’s Lynch School, which is named on their behalf following a gift of more than $10 million in 1999, and some of its signature initiatives, including the Urban Catholic Teacher Corps and the Collaborative Fellows Program, both housed at Boston College. The Urban Catholic Teacher Corps provides numerous teachers for the Boston Catholic schools, who serve while they study for their master’s degrees at Boston College on scholarship. The Collaborative Fellows Program has awarded approximately $3.3 million in grants during the past 11 years that have connected BC education faculty with Boston teachers and administrators in more than 18 schools on multi-year teaching and research projects.

Peter Lynch received an honorary degree from Boston College in 1995. Last year, Carolyn Lynch received an honorary degree for her longstanding commitment and support on behalf of organizations including Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, Special Olympics, New England Conservatory of Music, Mass Mentoring, Partners in Health, Tenacity, Boston School Yards Initiative, the Thompson Island Education Center, City Year, Teach for America and the Campus School of Boston College.

The Lynches were among the earliest donors to City Year and Teach for America and were founders of the Boston Library Foundation. They have been longtime supporters of the Boys & Girls Clubs, the Boston Plan for Excellence in Public Schools, the Campaign for Catholic Schools, to which they have donated more than $5 million, and the Inner-City Scholarship Fund, to which they have donated more than $10 million, while leading the 20-year effort to raise over $100 million for scholarships.   

“Even though I grew up in a single-parent household because of the early death of my father, I received a great public school education, as did my wife, Carolyn,” said Peter Lynch.  “Education has always been our biggest concern.  The United States is the only industrialized country in the world where children are less likely to graduate from high school than their parents. That is what we are trying to combat. We feel that this leadership academy, which Carolyn and I and the Lynch Foundation are proud to support, is the best way to make a lasting difference by helping to provide every child with the same quality educational opportunity regardless of race, religion or national origin.”

--Jack Dunn is director of the Office of News & Public Affairs;