Carol DeSouza, 2012 Boston State College Education for Service honoree (right) stands with (after Carol right to left) Chancellor J. Keith Motley, and fellow honorees John G. Flores ’71 and Selma Sax ’63.

 

Former Boston State College employee Carol DeSouza recently received the 2012 Boston State College Education for Service award. Here she reflects on that institution’s legacy.

This celebration each year gives us all the opportunity to renew our memories — and I certainly do not have as many years of memories as most of you…  It also gives us the opportunity to celebrate a living legacy —and keep the Mission and Memory of BSC alive…  and this is where I do want to spend a few minutes this evening…

View Ceremony Video>

My experiences at Boston State came at a critical time… and it gave me perhaps the unique opportunity to see the expressions of pride, the fight, the reasons for the arguments, the history — to relive some of the legacy.
I saw firsthand the spirit of togetherness — togetherness in crisis perhaps… but nonetheless, the opportunity for many faculty and students who may not have expressed such feelings about the place, to suddenly come forth and express appreciation and candor…

But tonight I would like to highlight another part of this community — namely the administrators and staff who many times are overlooked in describing or praising or remembering an institution and a legacy…  Beyond the faculty and students are the folks behind the scenes who support the institution, who are committed, who successfully handled many changes through the years…

In 1979, I shared an office with Linda Perotta in the Office of Grants and Contracts under Ray Rothermel…. And I wrote with the team of people who developed grants for federal and state, corporate and foundation funding… and we were very successful in this endeavor, despite the times and uncertainty..…  some of the programs are still in operation to this day… some have become even degree programs here at UMB.

One such grant was under the guidance of Leo Hanley and Carol Nectow to develop a Reading Clinic and Afterschool program in Roxbury— which is still in some form of operation at this time… BSC was certainly an important member of the community in which it was located…

As I worked, I listened to the ideas of many faculty members (Jack Looney, Terry Mortimer, and Marty Quitt) so as to write the grants and fill in the chapters…

•    I heard reasons why BSC was such an integral part of the community…
•    I heard about the history of that place…
•    I saw the enthusiasm of the faculty…
•    I saw the commitment to improve things …
•     and do what was needed to get more monies to support expansions…

These were the reasons our grant proposals were so successful — they expressed — not just answers to survey questions in an RFP…  but rather the heart and soul of an institution   We were able to put on paper the “legacy” of an institution, and one that was struggling to keep its legacy alive… to stay with an established, powerful identity while striving to influence a new structure and prepare for the uncertain future…

From my own very unique perspective —

•    I was almost on the outside looking in
•    I had no allegiances (I was being paid by Harvard not the state)
•    I had no agenda, no ax to grind…

I was not feeling the pain myself, so others were able to use my shoulder to cry on …  to express their uncertainty, to share their grief about their pending loss… to worry about the travel to another institution in higher education somewhere in the state..  But while the faculty members were worried about such things, the staff members had more to be concerned about…

•    Were there enough secretaries over at the Harbor or downtown at Park Street?

•    Were there enough people working in the Registrar’s Office (Kevin Radley)?  How about Financial Aid? Mary Mahoney and Ed Zaleskas asking about Admissions

•    How do they run the Counseling and Advising activities over at the Harbor? What about Continuing Ed (Reca Quarles)

•    Do they have a full staff in their library?  What about IT?

•    How many are in Facilities?  Do they need plumbers and electricians?

•    What about that Institute for Learning and Teaching — what does that mean for the College of Education?

•    What about John Silber’s objections to the continuation of the Nursing School?

On the Monday after Thanksgiving in 1979, we placed in the mail the proposal for the Title III Federal grant — one that was completed the Thursday before in Ray Rothermel’s den while his wife Donna was finishing the turkey and stuffing in their kitchen…  Linda Perrotta, Marty Quitt, and others were involved…

I was told in Washington D.C. when the proposal was eventually funded that it was one of the best works of fiction they had ever read — you see Title III is for Strengthening Developing Institutions — we asked for $3 million for an institution started in 1852 , not one just developing — but in the turning of the regulations, we scrambled to rewrite some portions and we made it a grant for an institution developing into a new institution, a new model.

Some programs which were developed from the Title III monies are still influencing this institution today (e.g. Instructional Media Lab is now a Master’s program In Instructional Design… the Student Support Services program is alive and well… and thanks to Ellie Kutz, was one of the perfect scoring proposals of its time!)

But I don’t want to paint those years as all “peaches and cream”  —  far from it…
I personally found it most hurtful in the graduation ceremony in June 1982, sitting in the Clark gym in the bleachers holding my cap and gown — you see I was told that only faculty members march in with the students — very different from our “family celebrations” at BSC…. especially after a semester of moving trucks, and resettling furniture which did survive on the upper floors of the Tower Building!

Then of course some of you may remember the “Walled Off Astoria” — the new home of the College of Education on the third floor of the Science building… with “walls” made by carefully placing the file cabinets… well not so carefully – some of them came crashing down!

Fast forward to 2006 — On January 24th as I approached Darryl Byers in the Advancement Office and said what are you doing next year at this time… and I told him he would be celebrating the 25th Silver Anniversary of the merger with Boston State… and would be Reviving that legacy which for many years had been kept under wraps… we would be celebrating again…   I am very glad I pushed this agenda!!!

I have recently retired after devoting my entire almost 45 year career to public service — the last 33 years of which were initiated at Boston State College.. and I am very happy that I have this opportunity to … as I said earlier…

………celebrate a living legacy — and keep the Mission and Memory of BSC alive…

Distinguished members of the Boston State Community have preceded me in receiving this award — from scholars of military history to outstanding educators in Early Childhood Education, to leadership in the State College system…

You have given me the opportunity to celebrate my achievements as a staff member at BSC… and remember BSC as a community of tremendous educators, learners and achievers.. and a most talented group of staff to support all of them!

On behalf of the many others who worked from behind the scenes… who may have been more vulnerable than the faculty… but who had to fit in… I gratefully accept this award only if you allow me to share it with many..

—As my name goes up on the plaque in the BSC Room, please read it and remember the names of the many administrators and staff it represents…. Also I would ask that Harry Brett include all administrators and staff members of BSC who are here tonight in the photo..

We… together…  thank you very much… we are humbled and grateful for this honor!