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In Memoriam: A Look At The Life Of James McIntyre

Boston College’s long-standing senior vice president Dr. James P. McIntyre passed away last Friday, Sept. 4, of complications from multiple myeloma. McIntyre was a very dear friend of my great-uncle, Rev. Francis Mackin S.J., the former pastor of St. Ignatius Church, and together they were passionate about their Irish heritage and the Irish studies at BC. Following the passing of my uncle in 2005, he and McIntyre became the namesakes of the Mackin-McIntyre Fund for Irish Programs, after which the Irish Room in Gasson Hall (Gasson 100) is dedicated. McIntyre was 81 years old.

Affectionately referred to as “Mr. BC” by those who knew and loved him, Jim McIntyre tirelessly dedicated his life to building BC for more than half a century, having a hand in developing nearly every element of the University that it is today.

“Dr. McIntyre played a unique role in the advancement of Boston College from a commuter school to a preeminent national university,” the BC Office of News and Public Affairs wrote in a release on Saturday. “Boston College’s Newton Campus, Flynn Recreation Complex, Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr. Library, Silvio O. Conte Forum, Robsham Theatre Arts Center, the renovated Alumni Stadium, and the Merkert Chemistry Center were all the fruits of Dr. McIntyre’s efforts, in addition to many of the University’s largest donations, and less visible entities such as the Presidential and Tip O’Neill scholarships that have benefited generations of BC students.”

McIntyre’s efforts were undoubtedly far-reaching and quite often unprecedented, ranging from financial undertakings such as assisting in the creation of BC’s first financial aid program and directing its first capital campaign, to endeavors in PR such as hosting high-profile finance conferences on campus intended to give the University much-needed exposure.

Born of Irish immigrants and the only son of four children, Jim McIntyre grew up in nearby Malden, Mass., and was raised primarily by his mother after his father passed away of rheumatic fever when he was only 6 years old.

Epitomizing the American Dream, McIntyre worked tirelessly to supplement the widow’s pension his mother received following the death of his father. He earned a bachelor’s degree while attending night classes at BC and working by day as a meat cutter and a store clerk. McIntyre would go on to continue his educational career at BC, earning a master’s degree in 1961, a Ph.D. in 1967, and eventually an honorary degree in 2011.

Before beginning his career at BC in 1959 and subsequently earning the titles of “Mr. BC” or “BC’s Ambassador,” McIntyre first turned down job offers from large companies such as Raytheon Corp., drawing warnings from his family. Their concern about a less lucrative “salary and other earthly rewards,” as he wrote in his memoir, did not sway him. “I thought it would be deeply satisfying to work for an organization whose goals were very congruent with my own,” he wrote. “To help young people live good lives, inspired by their faith.”

Over the past few years, McIntyre was in the middle of writing a memoir on his life and experiences, and he had recently completed this narrative while working in coordination with BC’s Office of Marketing Communications.

These memoirs are set to be published later this fall. Among other reflections in these memoirs, McIntyre wrote that eventually being hired by BC as the first layman director of admissions in 1959 was “a shot at a vocation in life, not merely, a job.”

Indeed it was a vocation in life, as the job would soon introduce McIntyre to his lifelong wife, Monica.

“BC not only provided me an education, but it also provided me a wife,” McIntyre once joked in a 1999 interview with the BC Chronicle. “It’s easy to see why I feel such great love for this institution.”

Building on the success of his time working in admissions, McIntyre was named BC’s first lay vice president in 1968 and tasked with centralizing student affairs and easing BC’s transition into a residential campus. Finding success in these tasks, McIntyre would later become the vice president for University affairs in 1976, and eventually BC’s senior vice president in 1986.

He held this position for the rest of his years at BC and, according to his Boston Globe obituary, his dedication to that position and the community he served extended until his very last days, as he attended a BC faculty convocation just two days before he passed away. McIntyre passed away peacefully last week, surrounded by his beloved wife of 52 years and much of his immediate family.

“It has been a wonderful experience and a joyous life,” McIntyre said in a recent interview with the Chronicle. “I am fortunate to have had a very satisfying career and to have worked at an institution I love and whose mission I support.”


Featured Image courtesy of Heights Archive

September 9, 2015