A powerful “explosion” happened last night in the UMass Boston Alumni Lounge. Well, not exactly a real explosion, but as I surfed my human “web” to capture an apt image, my brain’s “Google” kept “finding” images of a volcano.
A volcano is what the legacy of Boston State College is like for UMass Boston’s identity. And we saw that volcano erupt in the presence of over 150 Boston State College alumni gathered for the annual Education for Service awards. The awards honor distinguished alumni whose lives brilliantly embody their alma mater’s institutional motto. Last night five special people received well-deserved glory.
The “volcano” of Boston State College quietly graces the university’s landscape year in and out. Like a volcano, that legacy is never dormant, always actively churning with temperature and pressure increases, melting tectonic plates and the creation of the gaseous magma which will eventually be expelled.
Our legacy institution is truly a force upon which UMass Boston stands. The values of educational excellence and access it espoused are still paramount and many former Boston State faculty and staff still serve as leaders on campus.
Chancellor Motley said: “While Boston State’s history is formally recognized in the Boston State College Room next door, the college’s influence can also be seen in the College of Education and Human Development and the College of Nursing and Health Sciences that had their origins on Huntington Avenue.”
But every December, when the “Education for Service” awards are bestowed, we experience the beauty and power of a real volcano spectacle — in our case none of its destructive powers — especially when the awardees rise to receive their honor and share a first-hand perspective of how Boston State College inspired their lives of service.
Peter Tsaffaras ’73, President of Quincy College and exemplary leader in public higher education. His career path has included posts in the state college system to roles in campus administration at Boston State and Bridgewater State College.
In an emotional moment, he told us that Boston State College was one of his life’s most profound influences and it is motivates him daily to promote student success.
Beverly Lowery ’75, retired special needs educator. Her career spanned placements at the Boston Public Schools and in Westwood and Canton schools, and as a professor at Curry College where she was an inspiration to ensure that this vulnerable population was engaged with an appropriate curriculum and learning environment to foster their academic and social skills.
Beverly told us that as a young girl she aspired to be a teacher but couldn’t afford college. It wasn’t until age 39 that she was finally able to receive the education needed to pursue her dream. Boston State embraced her warmly and gave her the skills to animate her passion for teaching.
Dr. Gerard Burke ’59, senior lecturer in modern Irish history at UMass Boston. Burke’s career included posts as Boston Public Schools high school teacher, history professor, Massasoit Community College President, Brockton School Committee member, and Plymouth County Commissioner, senior lecturer in modern Irish history at UMass Boston.
Burke quoted Erma Bombeck: “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, “I used everything you gave me.”
He credited Boston State for cultivating the talents and inspiration that have led to his remarkable life of service which has included being foster parent with his wife, Rosemary, to 35 newborn babies.
John and Joan Moon, former faculty at Boston State College.
Beyond their combined 42 years of teaching at Boston State they contributed mightily to the larger arena of higher education by promoting the core values of academic freedom, shared governance, and the advancement of fundamental professional standards for higher education.
Joan shared that she matured through her encounter with such a wise student population with all its diversity. John shared that Boston State fortified his belief in speaking out against social ills, including his current work related to biological warfare.
This morning our campus is warmer with the lava of these testimonials brought forth. May UMass Boston renew its commitment to continue Boston State College’s proud legacy of “Education for Service. ”
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Nan Cormier is director of advancement communications