Students and faculty gathered together Monday night in the Heights Room to discuss their vision for the future of Boston College in an event titled, “BC Looking Forward.”
David Quigley, Provost and Dean of Faculties, and Michael Lochhead, Executive Vice President, opened the dinner with a presentation on the University Strategic Planning Initiative. Looking back on the Seven Strategic Directions set out in 2006, Quigley acknowledged what he called “mixed results” but considered the plan an overall success. Looking ahead, he invoked Father Michael Himes’s three key questions, focusing on the third: What does the world need you to do?
Of the students and faculty members present, Quigley asked, “What does the world need Boston College to be?”
Quigley and Lochhead then announced that the estimated eighteen-month process of the initiative is now in its fourth month. More than two hundred faculty, students, and staff are estimated to be involved in the process. Consisting of 24 self-study teams (nine academic, eight administrative, and seven cross-divisional), all those involved will begin work this spring. These teams will report back to the Steering Committee mid-May, and the committee will then develop the direction in which they would like to head during a retreat in June. The aim is to evaluate the goals each team would like to achieve and to produce the top priorities for the new initiative.
In the fall of 2016, there are plans for town hall meetings and an online feedback system to allow for community input into the priorities determined during the summer, allowing for specific program initiatives to be planned.
A representative from the administration was seated at each table with undergraduate students, as well as a scribe that took notes on the conversation had over dinner to present to the committees. Conversation, facilitated by each faculty member and based on different conversational clusters spread throughout the tables, ranging from technology to diversity to Jesuit identity.
After dinner, each scribe presented their table’s thoughts on BC’s vision, external environment, and internal assessment. While the school’s housing process, core curriculum, and emphasis on social justice were praised, many students had concerns about tuition costs and inclusion, calling on the administration to open a student center with more mental health and LGBTQ student resources. Students further raised a notion to challenge the Catholic identity of the school by evaluating contemporary topics and the evolution of the Church.
Issues of diversity were raised by nearly every table, with one student calling upon the administration to “let diversity be the teacher in part of the education at Boston College.” Some were concerned that the hegemony of students could be a turnoff to future applicants and pointed out that it is easy to be comfortable as a white student at BC, asking for the curriculum to encourage more students to take cross-cultural classes and for the hiring of more diverse faculty and staff.
Following the discussion, Dr. Barbara Jones, Vice President of Students Affairs, thanked students who attended as well as the Undergraduate Government of Boston College for organizing the event as part of a push for transparency and the acknowledgment of the importance of “those of us who are here as administrators interacting with students and hearing what your thoughts are." Jones ended by encouraging students to attend town hall events in the fall and to add their input into the process as BC looks forward to the next ten years.