University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J. discussed the pressures that Boston College faces in the modern day, including an increasingly secular society and struggles within the Catholic Church, at BC’s 2021 University Convocation, according to University communications.
Leahy spoke to the faculty about the state of the University, which he said is “academically robust and financially healthy,” according to the University release.
After switching to a virtual format in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, BC’s annual convocation returned to being held in person in Robsham Theater on Wednesday.
Leahy spoke about the continuation of BC’s initiatives designed to serve underrepresented students and examine racism within the United States, including the recently established BC Forum on Racial Justice in America. He also addressed other tensions BC is facing, including social tensions, political tensions, education and employment, and the declining population of 18-year-olds in regions central to the University’s recruitment.
“We have to be mindful of these issues and pressures, be creative, plan well, and make the best use of our human and financial resources,” Leahy said. “Sometimes that will mean review and reorganization, on occasion even ending current programs, and also investing in new initiatives. Most of all, it will require us to be especially attentive to institutional heritage and culture.”
Leahy said that the University wants this academic year to feel as normal as possible, while also keeping the students mentally and physically safe.
“We also encourage those who may be more comfortable wearing masks to do so, particularly individuals with young children or immune-compromised family members,” he said. “We are committed to being vigilant and flexible in regard to COVID-19.”
Despite the desire of some to require masks, Leahy said that given the psychological impact of wearing masks and the 99.3 percent community vaccination rate, BC will not be imposing a mask mandate within classrooms at this time.
“But if the campus infection rate leads to higher than desired levels, we will make adjustments, not only regarding masks in classrooms but also considering masks in laboratories, libraries, residence hall lounges, and faculty offices and departmental spaces,” Leahy said.
Correction 9/7/21 3:09 p.m.: The original version of this article stated that University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J., addressed the freshman, and that error has been corrected.
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