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“Art Work,” “Witness Stand,” “Matchmaking,” “Personal Effects,” “Rights Watch,” “Outlook”
Re “Illumination,” by Jane Whitehead (Fall 2016): In the early 1970s the recently appointed 24th President of Boston College, J. Donald Monan, SJ, visited Los Angeles and offered a group of alumni his vision for the University. First, he would focus on stabilizing its financial underpinnings, and then he hoped to establish centers, institutes, and a museum. These were the hallmarks of the great European universities where he had studied.
My involvement with the McMullen Museum began when my wife and I returned in the winter of 1999 to see the Caravaggio exhibition. Since then we have attended all McMullen openings and have joined the growing list of patrons.
The new museum conveys excitement, beauty, and tranquility. Visiting the recent exhibition, Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections, and looking at books made by monks and nuns more than nine centuries ago, was a humbling experience.
Nancy Netzer, the museum director for more than 25 years, put her heart and soul into quarterbacking the design and completion of this stunning home for art on the Boston College campus. It is gratifying to see record attendance by students and members of the Boston community, including busloads of children from neighboring schools coming to enjoy a day of art and fun.
Robert L. Winston ’60
Los Angeles, California
The writer served on the Board of Trustees from 2006 to 2010.
The photograph of the new McMullen Museum on the cover of the Fall 2016 issue was spectacular. I recall a 1993 conversation with then-University President J. Donald Monan, SJ, who said, “A great university can’t exist without a great art museum.” Well, the new museum is a breathtaking display of Boston College’s prominence. It is a wonderful addition to the University’s arts program and to the greater Boston community. Congratulations to Fr. Monan, President William P. Leahy, SJ, the McMullen family, the Board of Trustees, and museum director Nancy Netzer and her colleagues for a masterpiece in every respect.
Christopher J. Toomey ’78
Santa Barbara, California
From an art gallery on the campus of Newton College, to space in Devlin Hall, to the expanded facility on the Brighton Campus, the current McMullen Museum has been a journey some 40 years in the making.
Key to its success at all these stages has been its focus as a teaching museum, where the majority of the exhibitions have been initiated and curated by University faculty from various disciplines under the leadership of museum director Nancy Netzer.
Peg Dwyer, M.Ed’56, H’98
Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts
The writer served the University as a vice president from 1975 to 1997.
The opening of the new McMullen Museum is a triumph. It reminds me that in the 1930s there was in Chestnut Hill an obscure but highly disciplined institution focused on the learning of Latin, theology, and philosophy. On one side of that institution, called Boston College, was the sumptuous Liggett mansion, owned by the founder of the Rexall drug store company. On the opposite side was the magnificent mansion of the archbishop of Boston. Today the Liggett mansion is O’Connell House, and the archbishop’s mansion is the McMullen Museum. So as that once obscure institution has grown, it has absorbed the edifices built by those who maintained both our physical and our spiritual well-being. A fine testament to the University’s great purpose.
Mike Hirrel ’73
Re “And Now,” by Zachary Jason (Fall 2016): Thank you for the powerful story about Boston Marathon bombing survivors Patrick Downes ’05 and Jessica Kensky. I remember their statement during the sentencing phase of bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s trial. “In our darkest moments and deepest sadness,” they wrote, “we think of inflicting the same types of harm on him. . . . If there is anyone who deserves the ultimate punishment, it is the defendant. However, we must overcome the impulse for vengeance” (Boston Globe, April 20, 2015). They went on to ask that the defendant be spared the death penalty.
Their example offers a profound lesson to us all and bears prophetic witness to a society where vengeance is too often the norm. If they, who have lost so much at the hands of violence, can resist the impulse for vengeance, can we not find it in our hearts to do the same? They are a shining example of what it means to break the cycle of violence and build a more benevolent world.
Nancy Small ’84
Re “June 28, 2016,” by Zachary Jason (Summer 2016): At lunch in the Eagle’s Nest one day during my sophomore year, a roommate tossed me a flier about a summer position in Boston College’s undergraduate admission office. Little did I know how that summer job would change my life. I fell in love with the work and the people in Devlin Hall, and I spent the remainder of my time at Boston College with the student admission program. Working with John Mahoney Jr. ’79 and his team turned me into an admission “lifer.” I now work as the director of college counseling at an independent school in Northern California.
I have held tight to what the Boston College admission office taught me: how to encourage kids (and, please, not their parents) to ask the tough questions and how to help them identify the pulse that runs through the community to see if it resonates. Kudos to Boston College for staying strong to the idea that you should be unafraid to be different. Application totals are one thing; getting the right students to apply is another.
Matt Lane ’98
San Francisco, California
Visiting my daughter (’06) in Boston, I happened to be on campus the day your article chronicles and witnessed many of the events it describes.
I graduated in 1972, a time of turbulence on the Chestnut Hill Campus that left me with mixed recollections and emotions. My daughter’s experiences at Boston College, however, provided wonderful recognitions of how the University has evolved into a premier institution.
Dr. Phil Bayer ’72
Carmel, New York
Thank you for two essays published in recent issues. The first, “Side Effects” (Spring 2015), was written by an undergraduate, Meaghan Leahy ’15, whose sister is developmentally challenged. The second, “Unplanned” (Spring 2016), was an account by English professor emeritus Dennis Taylor about his grandson George. These two beautifully written pieces expressed a depth of feeling and love that touches one’s soul. Both authors wrote about their daily struggles and the choices they made. The essayists chose to find acceptance, peace, delight, and love in their situations. This is what I admire about Boston College: the fostering of the whole person to create strong, steadfast, and compassionate citizens. These two stories provide examples of how our Jesuit values are flourishing in the world. They remind us what life is about—loving and caring for one another.
Michele Boccia, MA’99
Bay Shore, New York
I was grateful for Zachary Jason’s article “Best Friend” (Summer 2016), about attorney Justin Marceau ’00. His work on behalf of animal rights and also persons sentenced to the death penalty reminds me of the connection I’ve made between animal and human suffering, one that led me to the Boston College School of Social Work. Because I grew up on a family hog farm—about 20 percent of feeder pigs die before reaching the slaughterhouse floor, literally suffering to death—I developed an acute awareness of beliefs and systems that reinforce unjust institutions. Although I was not religious, the Jesuit tradition of service and social justice is why I chose Boston College.
Mr. Marceau’s animal rights work may raise some eyebrows, but Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’—which he addressed to “every person living on this planet”—proves Marceau’s work is congruent with the Jesuit tradition underlying Boston College. Pope Francis said, “Every act of cruelty towards any creature is contrary to human dignity.” Thank you for profiling an alumnus whose life’s work is in accord with these principles and inspires others to reject unnecessary violence toward animals.
Kelly A. Olsen, MSW’96
Zachary Jason’s “Elegy for Edmond’s” (Summer 2016) ushered in many fond memories. My first two years at Boston College, I was housed in Mod 43A, where my bedroom window gave me a view of the construction of Edmond’s Hall (the “Rezzies”). My second two years were spent in suites 53W and 733W, respectively, of the Rezzies. Now that the Rezzies are gone from Lower Campus and Mod 43A has long since been removed to accommodate outdoor tennis courts, I guess, in the words of the Steely Dan song, “I’m never going back to my old school.” However, I remain pleased to return to the school of my daughters (Carol ’08, Constance ’11, and Canon ’18).
Peter Crummey ’78
Albany, New York
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