Jesuit Tradition: Woods College of Advancing Studies

by Fr. Joseph You Guo Jiang, S.J.


Fr. Joseph You Guo Jiang, S.J. is a member of the Jesuit Chinese Province and a member of Jesuit Community at Boston College. In 2008, he came to Boston College to pursue his doctoral studies in Higher Education Leadership and completed his degree in 2012. Prior to the United States, he has studied and worked in several Asian countries.


In 2013, after I completed my post-doctoral study at Harvard University, I began my work at the Woods College of Advancing Studies as Assistant Dean, in addition to my teaching at the Philosophy Department. I am very grateful to the support of Fr. William Leahy, S. J., Fr. James Burns, I. V. D., Fr. Arthur Madigan, S. J., and many others whose influence allowed me to pursue this opportunity.


Since its founding in 1929, shortly after the founding of Boston College Law School that same year, the Woods College of Advancing Studies has been making enormous contributions to non-traditional education and impacted the lives of many. As an integral part of Boston College, faculty and students of the Woods College expand the school’s mission by engaging in significant scholarship, which enriches the school culture and addresses important societal needs through an Ignatian and Jesuit lens. In particular, the Woods College of Advancing Studies recognizes the important contributions a diverse student body, faculty, and staff can offer, and is firmly committed to academic freedom and the Jesuit tradition: Cura Personalis. I am very proud of our faculty who dedicate their time, experience, and themselves in service to our non-traditional students who otherwise may not have the opportunity to learn and to develop as a whole person. In addition, the administrative members of the WCAS staff consistently and generously demonstrate care, concern, and willingness to serve WCAS students and all others. This care of the students is incredibly important for us as we try to make the Woods College a large extended family where students feel that they are cared for and supported. We are very blessed and grateful for faculty and staff of other units in the University who have also generously supported us in various ways.


Our approach is to encourage our students to continue to grow and develop as a whole person for others. In order to make this happen, the members of the WCAS management team meet on a regular basis to discuss program offerings and student concerns. For students requiring financial assistance, we also created a scholarship committee and are fully committed to offering scholarships to students at any age, especially those who are economically disadvantaged. Fr. Woods, SJ, the former Dean for whom the college is named (due to the generosity of Kate and Bob Devlin), worked tirelessly to build a significant scholarship endowment from which many of the scholarships come. In addition, with the support of the Osher Foundation, we offer significant scholarships to those non-traditional students who return to school after age 25. To provide students with the best support possible for both their academic studies and their personal growth, we offer a number of important services, including advising and tutoring to students who may benefit from them. To meet the needs of military personnel, including both active duty and veterans, WCAS has designed the programs to provide better support for our military population. As higher education becomes more internationalized and globalized, we also seek to meet the ongoing demand of international students from South America and Asia for both graduate and undergraduate education.


Liberal arts education for the non-traditional student is a very rare phenomenon in US colleges and universities, and many of the programs that do exist focus merely on vocational, professional training and market needs. However, the Woods College of Advancing Studies at Boston College has created a new model of how to be fully committed and dedicated to the non-traditional students’ social, intellectual, moral, psychological and spiritual integration as a whole person. Our motto is “be more”, and it is our hope that our students at the Woods College of Advancing Studies will become more responsible and integrated citizens and become men and women for the service of others through our education.


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