When Ethan Sullivan, the director of the Carroll School of Management Honors Program, broke the news of the program’s end to current honors students, the announcement was met with confusion and shock—as well as an idea to resurrect the positive aspects of the program within a different organization.
“We were shocked because when the whole A&S Honors decision came around, we were told we wouldn’t have any problem with CSOM and that we were pretty good at the moment,” said Jason Chu, CSOM ’18, the vice president of the CSOM Honors Program.
The program consists of approximately 150 CSOM students, and is entirely student-run, with four officers, Andrew Kearney, CSOM ’18 and president of the Honors Program, Chu, Gabriella LoGiudice, CSOM ’18 and treasurer, Chandler Scoco, CSOM ’18 and secretary.
“We did not know ahead of time, we found out the day it happened just like everybody else. Dean Sullivan made us aware and then made a presentation to the entire Honors Program,” Kearney said. “We had no advance knowledge.”
The CSOM Honors Program began in 1958, and will end with the Class of 2021. For years, students in the program have had the opportunity to engage with various speakers, participate in service, and move through their Boston College experience with a community of peer mentors, with each class in the program taking many of the CSOM core courses together.
“One of the big components of the Honors Program is sort of growing up with your class and being a mentee and becoming a mentor,” Chu said. “So I feel like a lot of the underclassmen sort of feel robbed of that experience.”
Dean of CSOM Andy Boynton outlined the decision in an email last month to students, alumni, faculty, and staff that closely mirrored the rationale that Dean of MCAS Rev, Greg Kalscheur, S.J., gave when announcing the end of the MCAS Honors Program in October.
The email mentions the difficulty of the decision, the positive aspects of the program, and how Boynton hopes to bring “the best of the Carroll School to all of [its] 2,200 students.”
Boynton declined to comment further and deferred The Heights to his email.
According to an April 1960 Heights article, the original intent of the Honors Program included “afford[ing] superior students the opportunity to develop their abilities and talents to the highest degree possible.”
“It is now abundantly clear that acceptance into the Honors Program does not increase the likelihood of a student attending BC,” Boynton said in the email. “Those who are accepted into the Program are no more likely to attend than other admitted students with the same academic credentials.”
The email also references the “sadness and disappointment” that many alumni of the program had voiced. Upon the announcement of the program’s end, alumni sent an email to Boynton, Sullivan, Director of Undergraduate Admission John Mahoney, Provost and Dean of Faculties David Quigley, as well as University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J. According to Kearney, the email included over 200 alumni signatures.
“I’m disappointed they didn’t take students’ position into consideration. The program makes significant contributions to the community. I know of many talented students who picked BC specifically because of its Honors Program,” said Tom Edwards, BC ’16, who was president of the program two years ago.
Moving forward, the officers of the program plan to propose a different organization that embodies all of the opportunities that the Honors Program afforded its members, but this time around membership would be extended to all CSOM students.
The idea was born out of a town hall meeting hosted by Boynton and Sullivan on Jan. 22.
“Our takeaway from [the town hall] was that if we wanted to continue along with the positive aspects of the program, we would have to rebrand and create a new organization with a different name and a different structure,” Kearney said. “So, that’s exactly what we’re doing.”
The plans for this new organization are in the beginning stages, and while the current officers of the program are all seniors, the committee that is being formed to draft the proposal for the new organization is going to consist of three freshmen, three sophomores, two juniors, and two seniors.
Kearney hopes to have an approved, fully vetted, organization ready to go by the end of the semester.
“The frustrations are just as much there now as they were when the decision immediately came down, and we’re just going to channel that frustration into something better, something that leaves a lasting impact on CSOM as a whole,” Kearney said. “Our ultimate objective here, and our ultimate objective in doing the Honors Program is to make BC a better place, and that’s what we hope to do in whatever new organization comes out of this.”
Featured Image by Kaitlin Meeks / Photo Editor