After serving as a member of the Boston College faculty and administration for over 40 years, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Academic Affairs Donald Hafner stepped down from his position, effective Aug. 31, with his full retirement from the faculty to come in the spring.
Joining the BC faculty in 1971 as an instructor in the political science department, Hafner taught in fields related to international politics and American foreign and national security policy. He took his knowledge of these topics to a position as a foreign affairs officer working on the SALT II talks with the U.S. Arms Control & Disarmament Agency, which he held this position from 1977-78 before returning to BC.
Hafner’s initial arrival at BC concurred with a time of major change for the University in the early 1970s, which involved all undergraduate programs becoming coeducational by 1970, Rev. J. Donald Monan S.J. becoming University President in 1972, and, perhaps most significantly, the University facing intense financial pressures.
“His career—43 years and counting at Boston College—really coincided with this remarkable period for the University, and he, along with the wonderful generation that he came in with, were in large part responsible for the ascendancy that we’ve all benefited from in the last few decades,” said Provost and Dean of Faculties David Quigley.
“I would say that Don Hafner had a particularly important role in helping to engineer a very successful transformation and maturation of Boston College,” Quigley said.
“Boston College today is not the same place it was when I arrived, and it has been fascinating to be witness, as the new University emerged from the old,” Hafner said in an email.
In addition to teaching, Hafner was heavily involved in other aspects of the undergraduate academic experience, including the University Fellowships Committee, of which he became the director in 1995. He also served as the associate director of the Center for Human Rights and International Justice at BC, and was named vice provost for Undergraduate Academic Affairs in 2007.
“There are two projects I have worked on with colleagues that I hope will have the most enduring effect at BC,” Hafner said. “One is the University Fellowships program, which launched both the Advanced Study Grants and the annual Undergraduate Research Symposium and has aided many hundreds of BC undergraduates in winning national fellowships. The other is working with Student Affairs on programs that bridge the academic, social, and spiritual lives of students, such as the Cross Currents Seminars, Pathways, and our new living-learning communities.”
“Before he was in the provost’s office, the fellowships work that he did would be his biggest legacy,” Quigley said. “He spearheaded and almost singlehandedly built out a strong support system for student applicants for national and international fellowships.”
Quigley also pointed to Hafner’s work with student leadership to develop a new system of online academic advisor evaluations as one of his lasting impressions on the University.
Hafner said that his collaboration with other faculty colleagues on starting new academic programs, such as the Faith, Peace, and Justice minor, the political science department honors program, the international studies major, and the global public health program, has been satisfying throughout his career at BC. He also indicated that his students have had the most significant impact on his work, particularly Carol DiMaiti Stuart, BC ’81, who was Hafner’s student and advisee. In 1989, Stuart was killed by her husband, Charles Stuart, in a widely publicized murder that caused racial tensions to reverberate throughout the city.
“My memories of Carol’s trusting nature and bright innocence, and of how easily her husband shifted the blame for her murder by invoking racial fears—in so many ways, reflections on those events have shaped my understanding of my role and responsibility as a college professor in making the world a better place,” Hafner said.
For the rest of the academic year, Hafner will remain a tenured faculty member on sabbatical. Quigley said that he and other members of the provost’s office will be starting a search for Hafner’s replacement beginning either later this fall or early next spring.