At University Convocation on August 30th, Boston College announced a new ten-year strategic plan. The new plan, titled “Ever to Excel: Advancing Boston College’s Mission,” is the fruit of a two-year institutional study and reflects input from all facets of the BC community. The plan outlines four emphases that the committee has decided will work to strengthen BC’s mission. From the outline of the plan, it is clear that one of the main goals is to sustain and strengthen the Catholic, Jesuit identity of the college.The introduction states that “Boston College is committed to being…a Catholic university, called in a particular way to be a meeting place between faith and culture, especially between Catholicism and contemporary society; and a Jesuit university, heir to a spirituality based on the religious experiences of St. Ignatius Loyola that continues to influence Jesuit schools and Catholicism, and the 470-year educational tradition of the Society of Jesus, which stresses the liberal arts, character formation, a rigorous approach to learning, and striving for the greater glory of God.”
Father Casey Beaumier, S.J., who was recently promoted to Vice President and University Secretary, was kind enough to help us understand what this commitment to BC’s unique identity means and how the University plans on carrying it out. Fr. Beaumier explained that “a very significant desire for the university is to continue to strengthen its Jesuit, Catholic identity.” He added that these characteristics are what distinguish BC from other top-tier universities, allowing graduates to truly be men and women for others, not for their own glory but for that of God. It is clear that BC is working to ensure that its Catholic identity is not a mere afterthought, but something that resonates throughout the University.
Father Beaumier explained that this commitment to the Jesuit and Catholic identity of BC will not be limited to the chapels, but will be reflected throughout student life. Academically, the ongoing renewal of the Core, he explains, is a “very important part of the plan.” Father Beaumier lauded the work of Father Jack Butler, S.J., with the Division of Mission and Ministry and its focus upon formation of the hearts, minds, and souls of BC students. This care for the whole person is what makes BC recognizable as a Jesuit and Catholic university in the 21st century. The presence of Catholic student organizations on campus (such as The Torch, the Saint Thomas More Society, and Agape Latte, among others) and a multitude of service organizations reflect this integration of BC’s identity into the lives of students.
In the second directive of the strategic plan, the university will work to bring more Jesuits to campus as faculty, staff, and students; additionally, they will serve as resources for the Society of Jesus and the universal Church. Boston College currently maintains one of the largest concentrations of Jesuit priests in the world. Father Beaumier, the director of the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies, explained that while some of these programs are still emerging, many people “are looking to Boston College for depth in their understanding of all things Jesuit.” He added that these efforts to strengthen BC’s Catholic identity are not only good for current students, but also for admission. In an age where many universities are trying to establish their identities, Father Beaumier explained that many prospective students are attracted to Boston College specifically because it is a Jesuit, Catholic school.
The nature of the University separates BC from other top-tier institutions. It also entails a larger responsibility for the administration, as they are not only entrusted with the academic success of the students, but with the salvation of souls as well. In a turbulent and divided time, Boston College continually renews its commitment to an educational method that has proved successful since its inception by Saint Ignatius of Loyola in the 16th century. The new “Ever to Excel” strategic plan signals that BC takes seriously its charge “set the world aflame.”