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Chronicle october 18, 2012


THE DEAN’S LIST By William B. Neenan, SJ

We live in an Anno Mirabili: the Sesquicentennial of Boston College, the Centennial of Fenway Park and the Thirtieth Anniversary of the Dean’s List. Therefore these four new titles will always be known as members of the celebrated Class of 2012. David Pietrusza’s 1948 captures the high points of another historic year. You may recall that photo of a triumphant Harry Truman holding aloft the Chicago Tribune’s bold headline “Dewey Defeats Truman.” That pivotal election year was set against the backdrop of the emerging Cold War, the founding of Israel, postwar reconstruction in Europe and the emergence of the civil rights struggle. A momentous period. In that year an idealistic William Neenan entered the Jesuit novitiate at Florissant, Mo. A significant year indeed. “Yalta” has become a code word for establishing the Soviet Empire that stood astride Eastern Europe for a half century. That word is politically charged: denoting either a sellout to the communists by the Western allies or simply a realpolitik acceptance of realities on the ground. Yalta, by S.M Plokhy, is a richly detailed narrative of the eight days Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill spent in the Crimean resort town of Yalta in the final months of World War II and settled the fate of Eastern Europe. Those fateful eight days were only a few short months before FDR’s death. Jane Gardam’s The Queen of the Tambourine is the second Gardam volume to appear on the Dean’s List only because I just recently discovered Gardam and her great

Cavallari to Centralize Fellowship Efforts “I see my job as being a point of first contact for students,” says Jason Cavallari ’01, who was appointed associate director of the University Fellowships Committee. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

By Sean Smith Chronicle Editor

writing. Eliza Peabody is the central character of this novel. The story develops through the letters Eliza writes to Joan who may or may not exist. Humorous and poignant, it ends with a startling conclusion that you will not discover from me. Just read it. I promise you that you will then move along to other Gardam novels. Don’t worry, there are many. Mark Whitaker’s My Long Trip Home is the autobiographical story of a talented American journalist with a French mother and an Africa- American father — a tale that in the 1960s and 1970s was rare but more and more common today. His parents’ broken marriage, the son’s anger at his absent and narcissistic father and his affection for a caring mother are movingly set against Whitaker’s own professional and family success. Then, just before his father’s death, there is perhaps not a “happy ending” but a certain closure for Whitaker that is implied by the memoir’s title. This book’s ring of authenticity is a very readable personal testimonial as well as a commentary on American society in the 21st century. Fr. Neenan is vice president and special assistant to the president. He has issued his annual Dean’s List of recommended reading since 1982.

THE DEAN’S LIST FOR 2012-13 New additions in bold

James Agee, A Death in the Family Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim George Bernanos, Diary of a Country Priest Robert Bolt, A Man For All Seasons Albert Camus, The Fall Clare Dunsford, Spelling Love with an X: a Mother, a Son, and the Gene that Binds Them Joseph Ellis, His Excellency: George Washington Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby Jane Gardam, The Queen of the Tambourine Lisa Genova, Still Alice Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory Patricia Hampl, The Florist’s Daughter James Martin, SJ, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything David McCullough, Truman Alice McDermott, After This Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son John O’Malley, SJ, The First Jesuits David Pietrusza, 1948 S.M. Plokhy, Yalta Michael Shaara, The Killer Angels Wallace Stegner, Collected Stories Sigrid Undset, Kristin Lavransdatter Robert Penn Warren, All the King’s Men Mark Whitaker, My Long Trip Home Garry Wills, Saint Augustine Simon Winchester, River at the Center of the World Jay Winik, April 1865, The Month that Saved America

Jason Cavallari, a 2001 alumnus, has joined the University Fellowships Committee as associate director, as part of the committee’s efforts to centralize its outreach to undergraduates. Cavallari assumed his duties in July, joining a committee of faculty that has achieved notable success in increasing the numbers of Boston College students earning prestigious post-graduate fellowships. In the 17 years since the University Fellowships Committee was established, BC has had its first-ever Rhodes Scholars and been recognized as among the top 10 producers of Fulbright Scholars; BC students also have been selected for Marshall, Truman, Mellon and Goldwater fellowships, among others. “The competition for national fellowships has become more intense, as more colleges and universities view fellowships as excellent opportunities for their students and as a way to enhance their own academic reputations,” said Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Donald Hafner, who chairs the University Fellowships Committee. “Yet over time, Boston College students have also become more competitive, as BC’s national distinction in the Fulbright grants shows. As the number of promising candidates among our undergraduates has grown, we have seen both the need and the value of enhancing the support we give to our students in these competitions — and the support we give to the faculty who guide each of our applicants.   “Having Jason Cavallari on board as a full-time associate director is one of the ways that Boston College is demonstrating

its commitment. Jason will be working in close collaboration with departments and other offices at BC, to help spread the word about fellowships among our students, to discover student talent and ambitions that match specific fellowships, and to aid our faculty coordinators for each of the fellowships.  Jason brings faculty experience in working with undergraduates to his role, plus a bounty of fresh ideas about how BC might do things better.” “I see my job as being a point of first contact for students,” said Cavallari, who earned a bachelor’s degree in French and history and also holds a doctorate in history from BC. “Various faculty members are responsible for coordinating applications for specific fellowships, but what was needed was a central location for students who might be interested in pursuing these awards but aren’t sure how to start. Now, students can come to me, talk about what fellowships they want to explore, and

then I can send them in the right direction.” Cavallari said the committee will step up its communication with students, especially freshmen, on the value of fellowships. “We want to get them thinking about doing research, and other ways they can make themselves good candidates for fellowships.” Also in the works will be a collaboration with the Career Center and Academic Advising Center to help undergraduates assess their post-graduate options, he said, and provide them with resources and guidance to pursue their aims. Cavallari noted that his office, now in Carney Hall, will shift later this fall to Stokes Hall — due to open in January — where its proximity to the Academic Advising Center and First Year Experience Office is expected to aid the Fellowships Committee’s outreach to students. “What interested me about taking this job was the opportunity to work with some of the most accomplished students BC has to offer,” said Cavallari. “I’ve already had some great talks this fall. The goal is to have more of these conversations, and to have them earlier in the undergraduate years. We hope our new initiatives and our new location will make that possible.” Contact Sean Smith at

GASSON FIESTA Photos by Christopher Huang

Closing ceremonies for Boston College’s observance of Hispanic Heritage Month took place Oct. 12 in Gasson Hall, where Andrea Lopez ’14 (at left in above photo), who co-chaired the celebration, joined in the festivities with Johanna Facada ’14, while (right) Debra Pino ’08, a graduate student in the Lynch School of Education, chatted with Roger Cruz ’16.

Boston College Chronicle