Boston College has no plans to rename McElroy Commons — also dedicated to John McElroy — in light of BC High’s decision, according to associate vice president for university communications Jack Dunn.
“John McIlroy, S.J., is recognized at Boston College for the work he did in founding British Columbia in 1863,” Dunn said in a statement. Highlands. “Because of his irreplaceable contributions to British Columbia’s history, we do not plan to remove his name from McElroy Commons.”
Although there are no plans to rename the building, Dunn said British Columbia is funding research to examine McElroy’s life through a biography written by British Columbia historian Seth Meehan.
“The biography will fully examine Fr. McElroy’s Jesuit years, while also considering him in the context of the era in which he lived and the full range of his life experiences and accomplishments.
Until Meehan’s research or future campus building plans pose a need for change, McElroy Commons will keep its name, Dunn said.
Grace Cotter Regan, president of BC High, sent an email to the school’s student body explaining the decision to rename McElroy Hall in early September. In doing so, she praised McElroy for his indisputable contributions to generations of British Columbia high school students.
“He was also a controversial man of his time, and it has become increasingly important to reconsider his life in light of the recent findings,” Reagan said in an email sent earlier this month, which was obtained by Instagram. Boston Globe.
The email explained that the decision to rename the building was made by the BC Board of Trustees based on the recommendations of its Mission and Identity Committee, a group created to research the school’s founders.
While BC High will rename its foundation building St. Ignatius Hall, Regan’s email also said that a plaque will be installed at the school’s main entrance to “honor and place” McElroy’s legacy.
According to Meehan, associate director of the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies:
McElroy’s ties to slavery date back primarily to his time as an accountant at Georgetown College, when Jesuits in Maryland were involved in the sale of… 272 enslaved.
“At the request of his religious superiors, he placed advertisements and recorded the transactions of slaves owned or leased by the college,” Meehan said in an email. Highlands.
Meehan said the sale of slaves in 1838 was controversial among Jesuits at the time. But while some defended liberation and others defended forced labour, McIlroy remained silent in the wake of the sale.
Meehan added that because McIlroy had not yet been ordained a priest nor given a formal role in his Jesuit province, his powers to intervene were limited.
“Here is an ordinary brother who has no real authority to make decisions, but who also has great responsibility to carry out the decisions of others,” Meehan said in his email.
Meehan said these events occurred before McIlroy founded British Columbia.
After his first visit to Boston in 1842, McElroy wrote to the Bishop of Boston and expressed the need for a new Jesuit-led day school in Boston. By 1847, Meehan explained, the bishop was urging the Jesuits to open a day school in Boston under McElroy’s leadership.
After a 16-year effort led by McElroy, BC officially opened its doors in 1863 at its original location in Boston’s South End, which is now the BC High School campus, Meehan said.
“He officially became the first president of Boston College in 1863, although he served only a month or so for legal and administrative purposes before ceding the role to John Babst,” Meehan said in the email.
According to Meehan, although McIlroy was not the sole founder of UBC, his efforts were vital to the founding of the university.
“It’s one of those great alternate history questions: Would you have Boston College without John McIlroy?” Meehan said. “Knowing his fellow Jesuits at the time… I don’t think any of them had the appetite, stamina, etc. to undertake such an arduous project.”