On Tuesday night, just a few of the thousands of people affected by the deanship of Rev. James A. Woods, S.J., dean of the Woods College of Advancing Studies (WCAS), gathered in Conte Forum for a celebration of Woods’ career. Woods has served as dean of WCAS for 44 years, beginning his tenure in 1968.
The ceremony, which lasted for more than four hours, featured addresses by Marilyn J. Matelski, a professor in the communication department; Rev. Robert D. Farrell, S.J., a professor in the WCAS; Robert M. Devlin, a trustee associate; and Clayton Christensen, the Robert and Jane Cizik professor of business administration at Harvard Business School.
Matelski opened the evening by welcoming the numerous attendees to Conte Forum for the ceremony. Farrell followed with an invocation of the night’s events. Devlin, whose generous gift of five million dollars gave the evening college its current name in 2002, spoke about Woods’ dedication and many great accomplishments.
After all of the addresses, Woods gave remarks of gratitude, thanking all those in attendance and all those with whom he has worked in his 44 years as dean of the WCAS.
A pamphlet provided to those who attended summarized many of Woods’ accomplishments and characteristics.
“Those who call on Fr. Woods see the rarest kind of leadership in action-a leadership that so believes in the potential of each individual that success becomes inevitable,” the pamphlet read. “With wisdom, laughter and wit, this indefatigable companion of Ignatius teaches us the meaning of fidelity, dedication, and what it means to care for others.”
Woods has received numerous awards for his service to the Boston College community throughout his career as the dean of WCAS. In 2005, Woods received a Leadership Award from the Association of Continuing Higher Education, which “recognized his extraordinary contributions, and service to the profession through his stewardship of diverse learner communities.” He was also the recipient of the Ida M. Johnston Alumni Award from Boston University “for outstanding insight and effort in planning and implementing higher education academic programs in metropolitan Boston.”
Before his term as dean at WCAS, Woods served as University Registrar, centralizing and computerizing registration and financial aid before such methods were popular. After his appointment as dean, Woods supervised the creation of a 30-course undergraduate hybrid program in 1971. This hybrid, the WCAS, added a graduate school in 1996, offering the Master of Science in Administrative Studies degree.
“Inviting all to see the world with new eyes and to grasp possibilities that will fundamentally change their lives and the lives of all [which] they will come into contact, Fr. Woods inspires broadening horizons,” the pamphlet read. “Offering an accepting learning environment, Fr. Woods makes real Boston College’s institutional covenant of inclusion with the local community opening and supporting participation in the University.
“Guiding thousands through their educational, personal, and spiritual journey with compassion and kindness reflects Father’s deep commitment to improving the human condition.”
After more than 40 years as dean, Woods, an octogenarian, will retire from his position at the end of this academic year.