University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J., spoke to the Boston College faculty and staff at Wednesday’s University convocation, where he expanded on the role of BC as a Jesuit liberal arts university.
He emphasized that the University’s primary goal is to be an institution of “teaching, research, creativity, debate, service, and learning.”
“[BC students] should be able to recognize their gifts and use them for the good of others, continually engaging questions about self, God, and should also strive to challenge themselves to live lives of purpose and meaning,” he said.
Leahy also said he believes a Catholic university should serve as a “bridge” between the Church and society. He hopes for their relationship to be one in which “society can better understand the Church and assist the Catholic Church in appreciating contemporary issues.”
Looking to the future, Leahy announced that BC will conduct a self-study in which it will assess its effectiveness in fulfilling the Jesuit mission. Additionally, in March 2020, BC will host a small review team of administrators and faculty members from other institutions.
Leahy also addressed the changing dynamics of American higher education. He said Americans have come to question the value of a college education—especially liberal arts educations. He cited The Chronicle of Higher Education, which reported that 35 institutions of higher education in areas outside large cities have closed or merged since 2016.
To adapt to this change in mindset, Leahy warned that the leaders of these institutions and their faculties will have be mindful going forward. He also mentioned that higher education will be affected by the politics of the nation, specifically by candidates advocating for free college tuition and the forgiveness of existing student loans, as well as other questions about college costs and affordability.
Leahy also addressed the fiscal progress the University has made. He pointed to the University’s $1.1 billion investment in campus improvements. It is this funding, he said, that allows the University to grow and improve, using the new Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society as an example.
“I want to build on the progress of the last 50 years,” he said.
Leahy then listed his goals for the coming year. He hopes the University will continue to focus on providing a quality undergraduate education that places emphasis on liberal arts, all while continuing to reflect its long-standing Jesuit Catholic heritage by remaining an atmosphere of care and faith.
He expects that the institution will remain a “vibrant, intellectual community [that welcomes] people of different backgrounds and experiences.”
He committed to start work on a comprehensive plan for the development of the University that is consistent with campus heritage, institutional needs, and physical powers.
“I regard us as a fortunate institution blessed with this location, campus, talented students, faculty, staff, generous alumni, parents, and benefactors,” Leahy said.
Leahy closed by encouraging the faculty to continue to strive for the greater glory of the world, to be just and peaceful, and to live out BC’s motto: “Ever to Excel.”
Featured Image by Celine Lim / Heights Editor