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University to Celebrate 150th

Boston College 1863-2013

Gasson Hall, Photo by Lee Pellegrini

By Jack Dunn | Director of News & Public Affairs

Published: Mar. 29, 2012

To honor Boston College’s 150th anniversary, and its ascension from a school founded to serve the sons of Boston’s Irish immigrants to its present place among the nation’s premier universities, Boston College will embark on a three-semester Sesquicentennial Celebration beginning this September that will include a Mass at Fenway Park, a Sesquicentennial Speakers Series, six academic symposia, a Founders Day celebration, a student concert at Symphony Hall and a convocation of leading Catholic college and university presidents.

Mass at Fenway Park: The Sesquicentennial Celebration will officially begin on Sept. 15 with a 4 p.m. Mass at Fenway Park in Boston. The Mass is open to all members of the Boston College community — students, faculty, staff, alumni, and their families — and will be concelebrated by members of the Jesuit community and alumni priests. It will be followed by a reception that will include a walking tour of the ballpark and field.

Sesquicentennial Speakers Series
: Three prominent speakers will be invited to address the anniversary themes of scholarship, service and formation, and the intersection of faith and culture. The series will begin on Oct. 10 with Harvard University President Drew Faust addressing the Boston College community on the topic of scholarship. A noted Civil War historian, Faust will be awarded a Sesquicentennial Medal in recognition of her professional achievement and commitment to teaching and scholarship.

Photo of Boston College at its original site in the South End.

Academic Symposia: Six symposia, designed to showcase the University’s distinctive academic strengths and commitment to addressing societal concerns, will be hosted during the three semesters:

• “Public Education and the Future of Democracy,” Oct. 5, 2012: The symposium, led by Lynch School of Education Professors Marilyn Cochran-Smith and Dennis Shirley, will feature a public lecture series over two semesters addressing issues related to public education and its role in democratic societies.   

• “Religion and the Liberal Aims of Higher Education,” Nov. 8-9, 2012: Led by Lynch School of Education Professor Henry Braun and Assistant Professor of Theology Erik Owens, the conference will address liberal education today with the goal of examining the unique contributions that religiously affiliated colleges and universities can offer to the educational enterprise.   

• “Energy: 1863-2163,” February 2013: Led by Physics Chairman Michael Naughton and Physics Associate Professor Willie Padilla, this two-day symposium will feature plenary lectures with prominent keynote speakers, along with presentations from BC faculty members from physics, chemistry, biology, law, political science and economics, on the present and future state of energy.

• “Migration: Past, Present and Future,” March 21-22, 2013: Sponsored by the Center for Human Rights and International Justice, symposium speakers will explore the changing patterns of migration and what needs to be done to address the plight of international refugees in the future.  

• “The Legacy of Vatican II,” September 26, 2013: Sponsored by the School of Theology and Ministry, this symposium will invite leading scholars throughout the world to discuss the lasting effect of Vatican II, followed by a public event in which prominent Catholic public figures will talk about the role that religion and faith play in their lives.   

• “Religious Diversity and the Common Good, 1863-2013,” November 2013: Led by Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life Director Alan Wolfe and Associate Director Erik Owens, this symposium will feature prominent public figures, distinguished scholars and local religious and community leaders who will reflect on the challenge of fostering the common good amidst religious diversity.

Sesquicentennial Logo

Founders Day: To honor the 150th anniversary of the founding of Boston College, an inaugural Founders Day celebration will be launched on April 9, 2013, that will include the second Sesquicentennial Speakers Series address and the awarding of the second Sesquicentennial Medal, along with a public convocation in the tradition of the Centennial Celebration of 1963, which featured an address by President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in Alumni Stadium.   
Student Concert at Symphony Hall: A concert featuring performances by the University Chorale, the Boston College Symphony Orchestra, BC bOp! and the University Wind Ensemble will be held on March 23, 2013, at Boston’s Symphony Hall.

Senior Class Toast:  The Centennial Class of 1963 will welcome the Sesquicentennial Class of 2013 into the ranks of Boston College alumni with a congratulatory toast in May of 2013.  

Convocation of Leading Presidents of Catholic Colleges and Universities:  This gathering of Catholic educational leaders will take place in October 2013 and will address contemporary issues facing American Catholic higher education.   

Sesquicentennial Tributes
: The University will unveil several features to celebrate its history, including: two books, An Illustrated History of Boston College and the new History of Boston College; historical markers highlighting significant sites throughout campus; a GPS-guided mobile website for on-campus and virtual tours; a documentary film on the history of Boston College; a portrait gallery of the 25 University presidents; and several library exhibits from Boston College University Libraries that will address themes ranging from “Student Life at Boston College” to “Alumni Service.”

Sept. 15 Mass at Fenway Park

Volunteer Community Service:  All Boston College students will be asked to perform 150 minutes of community service in either Boston or Newton during the three semesters of the Sesquicentennial, joining thousands of BC students and graduates who currently volunteer in the cities’ schools, hospitals, food pantries and social service agencies. Alumni will also be asked to perform 150 minutes of service through the National Day of Service on April 13, 2013, or the more than 25 alumni service programs offered through alumni chapters.

Sesquicentennial Logos: BC men’s and women’s basketball and hockey teams and the BC football team will wear Sesquicentennial logos on their uniforms during the 2012-2013 seasons.  

“The Sesquicentennial Celebration gives us an opportunity to celebrate Boston College’s history and also to emphasize our continued commitment to intellectual excellence and our Jesuit, Catholic heritage,” said University President William P. Leahy, SJ. “Our 150th anniversary is a time when all members of the Boston College community can renew their sense of our progress as a University and our goals for the future.”

“The Sesquicentennial Steering Committee, which included representatives from all areas of the University, has arranged an array of programs and events that will make this anniversary meaningful and enjoyable for the entire Boston College family,” said Vice President and University Secretary Mary Lou DeLong, who chairs the committee.  “With the exception of the Symphony Hall concert, all of our public events are free, and we extend a welcome invitation to our students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and friends to join us as we commemorate the 150th anniversary of Boston College.”

A website detailing specifics on the Sesquicentennial events has been launched at  The site features an interactive timeline called “Day by Day” that will chronicle 150 years of Boston College history. Beginning April 1, a new image will appear on the website every day at 12:01 a.m., with a caption highlighting a significant moment from that day in BC history. The website will also be the designated site through which to register for Sesquicentennial events, beginning with registration in June for the Sept. 15 Mass at Fenway Park.