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Obituary: Frank B. Campanella, BC Faculty Member and Acclaimed Former EVP

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. (1-17-11)Francis B. “Frank” Campanella, whose 25 years of management innovation and operational leadership as Boston College’s executive vice president helped the University to become a national leader in higher education, died January 14 from complications following a stroke. He was 74.

Frank B. Campanella
Frank B. Campanella

Dr. Campanella, who also taught finance in BC’s Carroll School of Management, served as the University’s executive vice president from 1973 until 1991, when he returned to teaching. In 1993, he was asked by then-Boston College President J. Donald Monan, S.J., to accept another term as EVP, serving until 2001. In his executive leadership role, Dr. Campanella was responsible for all internal management of the University as well as long-range operational and fiscal planning, capital planning and information technology.

He played a central part in the fiscal planning that helped Boston College to emerge from near insolvency in 1973 to become one of the nation’s wealthiest and best-governed universities. His skill at architectural planning and construction management also produced some of Boston College’s most important buildings, including Merkert Chemistry Center, the renovated Higgins Hall housing BC’s biology and physics departments, the BC Law Library, O’Neill Library, Conte Forum, Robsham Theater and the student residence halls lining Commonwealth Avenue. In total, Dr. Campanella oversaw $460 million worth of construction and major renovation, including $230 million for academic facilities during his quarter century of executive service.

In the 1990’s, Dr. Campanella led a campaign to dramatically re-engineer the way Boston College conducted business, launching an innovative five-year program to cut costs, improve productivity and enhance the University’s competitive advantage. It is estimated that his efforts saved Boston College upwards of $50 million in operating expenses.

“Frank Campanella had an immense impact on the evolution of Boston College during the last 40 years, especially in reorganizing its finances and developing campus facilities,” said University President William P. Leahy, S.J.  “He provided invaluable leadership at a critical time for Boston College.  This institution will be forever in his debt.”

Dr. Campanella was born in Boston in 1936. After graduating from Boston College High School, he won a Navy ROTC scholarship to study engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. As an undergraduate, he was elected president of three campus organizations, including RPI’s student government. At graduation, he was commissioned as an officer in the United States Marine Corps, and served three years on active duty.

After his military discharge, he worked for five years in the construction industry in the Boston area prior to earning a master’s in business administration from Babson College and later, a doctorate in business from Harvard University. He taught finance at Babson and Northeastern and Boston universities before joining the Boston College Carroll School faculty as an assistant professor in 1970.

After three years of full-time teaching, Dr. Campanella was asked by Fr. Monan to become Boston College’s chief operating officer. He immediately helped BC’s leadership team develop a financial plan that would become a national model for colleges and universities.

“During his 25 years as executive vice president, Frank's fondest hope was for Boston College to be the best-managed university in America,” said University Chancellor J. Donald Monan, S.J., who served as Boston College president from 1972-1996.  “No one played a more influential role toward making that hope a reality. A superbly trained and experienced business man, Frank was first and foremost an academic and a teacher, who held the trust and the affection of everyone from Trustee to newest colleague or student. Through that trust, Frank's was a leadership role in successfully addressing not only the University's physical needs, but its spirit as well.”

As EVP, Dr. Campanella was credited with forging an open and trusting relationship with faculty, staff and students that helped establish the University’s national reputation as a supportive and caring community. “Frank Campanella was the greatest listener that I ever knew,” said longtime colleague Bernie Gleason, who ran BC’s IT department for many years. “He brought a refreshing approach and vision to management that was unrivaled in higher education, and he made BC the envy of competitor institutions.”

Added Carroll School of Management Professor Emeritus John Lewis III, who often chaired the Faculty Salary and Benefits Committee during Dr. Campanella’s tenure, “Our meetings had to have been the most civil of any university in the country. Frank was one of the fairest and most honest people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. It was a pleasure to sit across from him in negotiations, and the University community was clearly the beneficiary of his fairness and decency.”

Said Donald Ricciato, director of the Campus School facility in BC’s Lynch School of Education that serves area children with multiple disabilities. "Frank Campanella was someone who truly believed in the Campus School. He was here when it began 40 years ago and his support never wavered, whether it was in his role as EVP or as a faculty member and a member of our board. Frank was always working at ways to make the Campus School the great institution that it is for these children.  He understood their very special needs, and by supporting them, he was living out the Jesuit values and mission that were so much a part of his life.”

When he retired from the EVP position in 2001, Boston College officials re-named a major campus thoroughfare as “Campanella Way.” Dr. Campanella is the only University employee ever to be so honored.

Dr. Campanella returned to BC’s finance department faculty nine years ago and was teaching up until the time of his death. In recent years he received honorary degrees from Boston College, Boston College Law School and Le Moyne College in recognition of his outstanding leadership in the field of higher education. He also received a national award from CAUSE for his excellence in the field of information technology in education.

Dr. Campanella served as chairman of the Board of Trustees at Dean College, where a scholarship and the school’s new board room are named in his honor. He was also a trustee at Boston College High School, where he was instrumental in guiding the Jesuit high school in its recent campus development.  In addition, he served as chairman of the Board of Trustees at Le Moyne College and as a member of the Board of Trustees of St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Boston. He also was a member of the Advisory Board for the business school at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland.

His daughters Kathleen, Patricia and Maureen, all of who graduated from Boston College, described their father as a devoted and loving Dad who was a model of integrity, honesty and fairness. “Our father had the innate ability to lead with strength using the utmost of patience, kindness and understanding,” said Kathleen. “When we needed him he was always there with that quiet strength.” Added Patricia, “We are immensely proud of Dad's accomplishments and contributions to Boston College, and yet we are more proud of him as a father and grandfather. We could not have asked for anything more of him.” Said his daughter Maureen, “Dad's unconditional love, tireless support, tremendous integrity and unending value-rich advice were expressed in his every action, word and deed throughout our entire lives. We are and shall remain devoted, loving and grateful daughters."

Visiting hours will be held at St. Ignatius Church in Chestnut Hill on Thursday January 20, from 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.- 8 p.m. A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at St. Ignatius Church beginning at 11 am on Friday, January 21. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Campus School at Boston College here or to the EagleEyes project here