Beacon | Signal achievements in advancing Boston College


Greetings, fellow Eagles!

As we know through our faith traditions, spring is a time of new life. It is marked on campus by the abundance of colorful flowers and in the hopes and dreams of our students, especially those who are graduating with the spirit and energy required to tackle any challenge that comes their way.
Read more

Marc and Mary Seidner

Better Than They Found It

When BC needs them, Mary Lou and Marc Seidner answer the call. Get to know these University citizens and learn why they’re so passionate about helping others.
Read more

Shining a Light on Opportunity

Be a Beacon brings to light the tremendous power of scholarships at BC. Read about the impact it’s had in year one.
Read more

Parental Guidance

The Parents Leadership Council enters a new era as Suzie and Habib Gorgi hand over the reins to new co-chairs Peter and April Kelly.
Read more


Beliefs, Perspectives, and Conversations

BC’s long-term success is only as good as its plan. Mara Hermano is using her art history background to shape the University’s future.


Take a peek inside BC leaders’ offices

The Show Goes On

Peek behind the curtain as Theatre Department chair Luke Jorgensen talks teaching, COVID adaptations, and some of the more interesting things you’ll find in his office.

Academic Excellence and Innovation

Laura Steinberg

IN FOCUS: Seidner Family Executive Director of the Schiller Institute

Meet Laura Steinberg, the woman who plans to lift BC to a national leadership role in addressing critical issues in energy, health, and the environment.
Laura Steinberg

Beacon Book Club

A storied tradition begins a new chapter

Vincent D Rougeau

BC Law Dean Vincent Rougeau makes his selection for the book list that honors the legacy of Fr. Neenan.

Vincent D Rougeau

Beacon Cover


There is a point in your life when you realize that helping others is a responsibility—when you realize that the resources you have can be put to a better use. Boston College has helped both of us understand that contributing to education—through financial aid—is one of the best ways to reduce inequality and enable deserving young people to fulfill their potential.”



Related tags: 


Spring 2021 Homepage 5/17

A record 3,000 Eagles commit to legacy gifts, and Shaw Society Chair Dave Griffith shares why his legacy is with BC.

Caption Ed Kelly and Alejandro Bedoya


BC is a beacon for the world—and it affects me in the same way. It’s a special, special place. I have the ability to influence other people’s lives. I support the ones who need me most, and I take that responsibility very seriously. BC has given me the tools to do that. Boston College is one of the great loves of my life.

EDMOND KELLY, P'06, '07, '10


H Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipisicing elit. Vero harum quo impedit maiores amet doloribus iusto non, neque distinctio? Doloremque, magnam? Veniam aperiam atque quia velit ab rem assumenda quaerat vel accusantium voluptatem perferendis distinctio libero sunt illo ullam nam molestiae nulla facere, amet mollitia. Impedit optio consectetur repellat sunt autem facilis cupiditate perferendis alias excepturi iure omnis sequi, ipsam mollitia quae quod dolore doloremque amet illum magnam iste ullam explicabo nesciunt ipsum expedita. Nemo, nisi porro minus saepe quisquam obcaecati soluta! Laborum nam tempora, eos, rem ut ab impedit labore repellendus in odio, dolor atque consectetur illo minus accusamus alias culpa harum nesciunt. Quibusdam blanditiis iste veniam 


BC is a beacon for the world—and it affects me in the same way. It’s a special, special place. I have the ability to influence other people’s lives. I support the ones who need me most, and I take that responsibility very seriously. BC has given me the tools to do that. Boston College is one of the great loves of my life.

EDMOND KELLY, P'06, '07, '10


Related tags: 

Spring 2021 Homepage 5/17

Bob Winston believes art develops empathy and encourages personal growth—and his own experiences with three McMullen Museum of Art exhibitions bear him out. “I genuinely believe,” Winston says, “that they made me a better person.”
The Power of Conversation: Jewish Women and Their Salons

If you ask Bob Winston why art is important, he’ll tell you a story.

In 2005, Winston chanced upon an elderly woman emerging from the Green Line, lost and disoriented, clutching a clipping from the Boston Globe with a review of the McMullen Museum exhibition, The Power of Conversation: Jewish Women and Their Salons. “My synagogue friends told me I had to see this,” she said. “Take me there.”

As he led her to Devlin Hall, they talked. “You’re Catholic, and I’m Jewish,” she said. “We have a lot in common.” They talked about Jesus’ role as a Jewish rabbi and a great teacher, and Winston, a devout lifelong Catholic, still gets emotional as he recalls, “I was amazed at the depth of her faith.” She told him about the many relatives she’d lost to the Holocaust. Winston was deeply moved by the serendipitous encounter, which, he says, made him see his own faith in a new light. He was also immensely proud that the McMullen Museum had drawn this extraordinary woman, entirely unfamiliar with BC, to the Heights.

Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections

More recently, he was awed by thousand-year-old manuscripts in Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections, a collaboration with Harvard University and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. For Winston, these fragile and beautiful works, created by faithful monks laboring for untold years, vividly illustrated the development of his religious tradition. “We saw early Christianity at its best,” he recalls.

Carrie Mae Weems: Strategies of Engagement

Winston was viscerally reminded of his own encounters with Jim Crow-era racism by Carrie Mae Weems: Strategies of Engagement. When his U.S. Army service took him to the American South after graduating from BC, Winston saw a side of American he had never known and still struggles to understand. This immersive exhibition, a series of installation pieces combining fabric, audio, video, and photography presenting challenging encounters with American history, recalled these experiences for Winston and gave him a new lens to reflect on them.

The content on this page is drawn from the stories found in the print version of Beacon but is original unto itself.

Read print version: Exhibiting Empathy

Related tags: 

Spring 2021 Homepage 5/17

There are few classes anywhere in academia that inspire the admiration, respect, and even reverence of Boston College’s PULSE program for service learning. Alumni often cite it not only as their most important experience at BC, but also as one of the seminal influences of their lives. Thanks to one dedicated BC family, PULSE has not only survived a half century, it is flourishing.

"Love,” wrote St. Ignatius of Loyola, “ought to be shown more in deeds than in words.”

In dozens of neighborhoods across Boston, PULSE students engage in those loving deeds, caring for people in need—just as they have since the very first PULSE course was taught. At Rosie’s Place and the Pine Street Inn, they feed the hungry and clothe the homeless. In Boys & Girls Clubs, in YMCAs, in schools, they befriend at-risk children, assist in classrooms, and help with homework. They help addicts reenter society; they help prisoners find jobs upon release. They speak with desperate callers on the Samaritans’ crisis hotline.

Meghan Sweeney, Cooney Family Director of the PULSE Program for Service Learning, engages with past and present PULSE students in the program’s Stokes Hall office.

And then they bring those experiences—profound, confusing, frightening, moving, challenging—back to the Heights.

It’s a holistic, deeply Jesuit idea: service to others firmly grounded in a context both academic and self-reflective. Ask Robert Cooney ’74, P’08, ’10, why PULSE has such an important place at BC, and he’ll tell you simply: “PULSE is the BC mission in action.” The program enters its second half century greatly strengthened—and with the potential to impact many more lives—thanks to generous gifts from Cooney and his wife, Loretta. Their support has already allowed the University to expand PULSE and increase the number of participants; they have also established an endowment which will benefit the program for generations to come. In recognition of the family’s transformative philanthropy, the PULSE program leader will be known as the Cooney Family Director. Meghan Sweeney has been named the inaugural holder of the position. Cooney, a longtime BC Trustee and now Trustee Associate, explains that the couple wanted to establish an endowment in support of the program’s leadership—“excellent faculty are the lifeblood of a university,” he says—and also have an immediate impact on its growth.

According to Sweeney, PULSE cultivates a “different way of seeing,” and it showed Rachel Drew ’20 a way to combine her love of volunteerism and her desire to teach, setting her on a path she’d never considered.

“I worked one-on-one with a student as a tutor—and a mentor and friend—in a public housing development in Brighton,” she recalls. “Through the eyes of this young girl, I viewed education in such a different way than I ever had. It completely changed the type of education that I saw myself doing. I decided I wanted to work in an urban public school and focus on speakers of other languages in classrooms where only English is spoken.”


What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing.



Trustee Associate Robert Cooney and his wife, Loretta Cooney, speak with PULSE students at the celebration of the Cooney Family Directorship in November 2018.


PULSE’s power, Sweeney explains, lies in its multifaceted approach. “PULSE educates students in multiple parts of their lives—intellectual, spiritual, moral. If you ask someone 10, 15, 20 years out what they remember, it’s where they served and who they served. The classroom work interprets that experience. It’s sort of like the back room, the framework.

“Experience alone is not what transforms someone. It’s the action and then the reflection on it.”

That fundamentally Jesuit insight is the inspiration behind PULSE, says cofounder Patrick Byrne ’69, who has taught in the program throughout its five decades. In the late 1960s, BC students frequently protested that theology and philosophy weren’t relevant to the “real world.” Byrne and Joseph Flanagan, S.J., the then-chair of the philosophy department, set out to integrate social action and academic reflection. Based in both the theology and philosophy departments, PULSE—which is not an acronym, despite urban legend to the contrary—took its inspiration from St. Ignatius’ exhortation to serve others, to “help souls,” as his early followers put it, and from Aristotle, who wrote: “What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing.” The result was a new way of integrating classroom instruction with direct service that would come to be called service learning.

Bob and Loretta Cooney took a special interest in PULSE after their daughter, Ellen ’08, and daughter-in-law, Kate ’10, both had life-changing experiences in the program. When Ellen realized that PULSE routinely had to turn away well over 100 students each year due to limited space, she urged her parents to help.

“We saw a need that we were happy to fill,” says Loretta Cooney. “It’s such an impressive program.”

The result has been a major program expansion. The Cooneys are delighted to see PULSE grow as they’d hoped, and equally pleased that Sweeney is the inaugural holder of their directorship. An Episcopal priest who has been a hospital chaplain and campus minister as well as a theology professor, “Meghan is truly the perfect PULSE director,” says Bob. “It’s so important to have someone who understands this combination of classroom learning and service opportunity; Meghan’s devoted her career to that.” Adds Loretta, “She really inspires the students.”

Perspectives Transformed: Everybody says "PULSE changes lives." Does it really?

Read More

The family members who inspired Bob and Loretta Cooney to get involved with PULSE share their satisfaction. Ellen and Kate Cooney each say that they hated the idea of any student who wanted to take PULSE being turned away. “PULSE gave me a perspective that informs everything I do—a lens to view the world where the disenfranchised are an important part of the picture,” says Ellen. “Anyone who is open to that experience should have it.” Kate agrees. “I gained a direction I hadn’t had before, a realization that my skills could be put to a greater purpose if I focused my career on service to others,” she says. “PULSE was one of the most profound experiences I’d ever had. I’d never worked with kids before, but I found my passion for urban education working in an after-school program in the South End at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.” PULSE spun her around and set her on a path that led her to join the Jesuit Volunteer Corps after graduation, followed by a stint with Teach for America. Most recently, she has been the director of learning support at the Chicago Jesuit Academy, a full-scholarship school on Chicago’s West Side.

Kate’s story—like Ellen’s, like Rachel’s, like those of so many PULSE students—illustrates PULSE’s singular ability to help students transform good intentions into meaningful action. “What makes PULSE so powerful—not only for students, but for the people they serve as well,” says Sweeney, “is that our students truly grow—it’s formative for them, and then there’s a ripple effect. A single PULSE student, beginning with a single volunteer placement, can touch so many lives for the better.”

Thanks to the Cooney Family, PULSE celebrates a half century with a notable boost.

›› More than 400 additional PULSE students
›› More than 100,000 additional hours of service
›› 2 new staff positions
›› 1 new minivan







Related tags: 

3 Questions

A short Q and A informing the reader on a subject or interviewee associated with Boston College

The Show Goes On

Peek behind the curtain as Theatre chair Luke Jorgensen talks teaching, COVID adaptations, and some of the more interesting things you’ll find in his office.

Joy Moore ’81, H’10

Since the pivot to online learning this spring, Vice president for student affairs Joy Moore, has led the effort to ensure a safe and smooth transition for students and to encourage continued student engagement.

The Gift That Still Gives

BC Trustee Peter S. Lynch ’65, H’95, President and CEO of the Lynch Foundation, explains what inspired him and his late wife, Carolyn, H’09, to make the gift that launched BC’s Lynch Leadership Academy.

Photo of Peter Lynch
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • More Networks
Copy link