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Four Decades Without a Bad Day

Oslin's great run at the Heights is over

During his four decades at BC, Reid Oslin has worked in the Admission Office, the Athletics Department and the Office of News and Public Affairs. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

By Sean Smith | Chronicle Editor

Published: May 24, 2012

In four decades, Reid Oslin says, he has never dreaded the prospect of coming to work at Boston College — “except maybe for the commute” — whether in the Admission Office, the Athletics Department or, for the last 14 years, the Office of News & Public Affairs.

“I have never had a bad day at BC,” says Oslin, an associate director of News & Public Affairs. “Some days have been better than others, but I’ve never had a day when I wasn’t excited about being here.”

Now, almost exactly 41 years after he began working at BC, Oslin is saying farewell to a University community he has known not only as an employee but as a student (a bachelor’s degree in 1968 and a master’s degree in social planning in 1971) and loyal alumnus. Oslin also has been a biographer of BC history, life and lore, publishing two books about the University’s football tradition (Tales from the Boston College Sideline and Boston College Football Vault) in addition to writing for the Boston College Chronicle and Boston College Magazine.

To hear his many friends and colleagues tell it, there’s no better person to tell BC’s story.

“Reid just has this great memory,” says former Senior Associate Athletic Director Ed Carroll ’56. “He doesn’t just tell you the score of a game; he could tell you how a basket, a goal, a touchdown was scored. And then there are all the people, whether athletes, coaches, administrators, faculty, staff, that he knows — or knows about. It seemed like he could tell you something about almost everyone in the BC directory.”

Oslin’s powers of recall are by no means his only gift, Carroll adds.

“Reid’s always had this way of taking whatever situation comes along — good or bad — analyzing it, putting it in black and white. He’s just been able to keep his wits about him, take the long view, and that really helps everybody around him.”

“We are very grateful for Reid Oslin’s many years of service to Boston College athletics,” says Director of Athletics Gene DeFilippo. “Reid is an invaluable source of historical information about our athletics program.  He has an amazing memory for detail and we all enjoy his anecdotes about our former student-athletes and great athletics events.
 Even though he has not worked in our department for more than a decade, we still look at Reid as a member of the Athletics family.”    

Oslin has made a favorable impression well beyond the confines of BC — notably among the numerous members of the media he dealt with as director of sports information for 24 years, after serving as an assistant director of admission.

“Reid was, and remains, a Boston College treasure, unabashedly and hopelessly wrapped up in his alma mater, always helpful, a walking encyclopedia of Eagles’ athletic lore,” says Lenny Megliola, a longtime Boston area sportswriter. “No matter how busy it got — especially during the Doug Flutie era — where most people would’ve gone crazy, Reid smiled through it all and got it done.

“If there was anyone who was destined to be an eagle, to land at Chestnut Hill, and to dedicate his entire adult life to the school, that would be Reid Oslin.”

It is a sentiment shared by News & Public Affairs Director Jack Dunn.  “Reid loves Boston College, and has dedicated his life to selflessly serving his alma mater and chronicling its stories and people. He is a wonderfully kind-hearted and generous person who has given us all a lasting example of the true satisfaction that comes from committing yourself to doing something you love, something you were clearly meant to do.”     

For Oslin, a Springfield, Mass. native, BC has always been about the people, whether senior administrators, distinguished faculty members or, in particular, “the ones who make the University run” — like groundskeepers, BC police officers and maintenance staff.

“I’ve always been interested in the details of the people who make things work,” he says. “To have a great college, you need somebody planting flowers on Linden Lane, or shoveling the snow on the Higgins Stairs, or doing any of those jobs most people don’t think about. They work hard, and they’re loyal — they tend to stay at BC for years.”
Oslin sees the sense of dedication and commitment to BC as a constant in the University community, even as the school has undergone vast changes in his time: the growth in the campus and number of employees, and in the academic quality of students and faculty.   

“Perhaps the biggest change is how much of a national, even international, university BC is now: You ask students where they’re from, and you’re more likely to hear ‘Texas,’ ‘Illinois’ or ‘California,’ instead of ‘Jamaica Plain’ or ‘Dorchester.’ When I was here, only about a third of students lived on campus — the place emptied out on weekends — and now there are few, if any, commuting students.”

Oslin has innumerable memories of BC moments to cherish — from the 1984 Flutie Pass to US Senator John McCain’s 2006 appearance — and plenty of mentors and friends he feels blessed to have known, among them legendary athletic director William J. Flynn; Edmond Walsh, SJ, who hired Oslin to work in Admission; Charles Donovan, SJ, who served in key administrative posts as well as University historian; and University Historian Thomas O’Connor (“I knew I’d arrived at BC when Tom called me to ask a question about BC history,” quips Oslin).

Oslin’s gratitude to BC is second only to that for his family: “They deserve an award for all those years when I was on seven days, and often seven nights, a week.”

Oslin looks forward to retirement in Scituate, although he’ll still do some consulting for BC. “I’ve spent more years of my life at BC than anywhere else, and it’s been a great run. Fortunately, I’m not saying ‘good-bye’ completely; as an alumnus, I’ll certainly be around. I just won’t have to worry about the South Shore traffic so much.”