In an effort to summarize the past year’s events at Boston College, University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J., sent out his annual letter to members of the BC community today.
“This is a letter that is meant to be an update on important University events and issues for BC’s 162,000 alumni and parents who are not in as close contact with the University, as well as for members of the campus community,” said University Spokesman Jack Dunn. He also noted that this tradition began in 2009 after the U.S. economic crisis, as a way for Leahy to inform all concerned parties about the state BC was in.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of BC-the Commonwealth of Massachusetts officially approved the University’s charter in April of 1863, and in July of 1863 the property was transferred to founder Rev. John McElroy, S.J. Accordingly, the first section of Leahy’s letter noted the importance of the University’s sesquicentennial and the various events and symposia hosted at BC over the past two semesters in celebration.
The opening of Stokes Hall this semester was touted as “a powerful affirmation of Boston College’s longstanding commitment to liberal arts education,” and the ongoing renovation of St. Mary’s Hall, slated to finish in December of 2014, was also included.
In terms of personnel, Leahy mentioned the appointment of athletic director Brad Bates last fall. While BC has been without a Vice President for Student Affairs (VPSA) since Patrick Rombalski left in November, Leahy said that the announcement of a new VPSA should be made before the end of the semester.
In the section of his letter dealing with University finances, Leahy contrasted the 3.6 percent rise in tuition for the 2013-14 year with BC’s continued commitment to need-based financial aid, which has been raised by 7.9 percent for next year. While he also noted that the University has been able to save approximately $20 million through budget reductions and other savings, Leahy also pointed out that BC’s policy of need-blind admissions will require “a major increase in support for financial aid and endowment.”
Also with respect to admissions, Leahy mentioned the addition of a supplemental essay to this year’s application process. “The result has been not only a smaller applicant pool (25,000 applicants, which is more in line with our principal competitors) but also what Admission Director John Mahoney calls the best-suited and most academically talented group of potential BC freshmen in our history,” he said.
The process of revising the University academic core, which was last updated in 1991, was also addressed. Leahy not only recognized the efforts of Institute for the Liberal Arts Director Mary Crane, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences David Quigley, Dean of the Carroll School of Management Andy Boynton, and Tom Chiles, chair of the biology department, but also placed a tentative time frame in which potential changes to the core would be released. Committee members, along with consulting firm Continuum “have sought and obtained extensive comments from members of the campus community, and hope to present results from their consultation and deliberations in the next six to eight weeks,” he said.
The letter also highlighted the progress made by the Light the World campaign, launched in October of 2008, which hit the $1 billion mark in January. He noted, however, that continued support from BC alumni is necessary in order to further the campaign’s goals. “We realize we have much work to do, and need the help of all alumni and friends of Boston College to reach our campaign goal of $1.5 billion and continue striving to enhance our mission and meet our institutional goals,” he said. A bulleted list of accomplishments and awards garnered over the past year by faculty members, undergraduates, and graduate students, as well as shifts in the University’s rank, was included as well.
Leahy concluded his letter by emphasizing both the devotion of the BC community and the Jesuit, Catholic nature of the University. “The Jesuits who established our University had great vision and faith,” he said. “As we celebrate our Sesquicentennial, I am frequently reminded how immensely Boston College has benefited and continues to benefit from the dedication, talent, and commitment of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends. Because of such efforts and generosity, our University is able to advance in academic excellence and reputation, remain faithful to its Jesuit, Catholic heritage and values, and stand as a beacon of light and hope in our day.”