Boston College Nursing: Cushing Hall

After numerous struggles, the nursing students finally established their presence on campus. In 1958, Archbishop Cushing generously donated funds to allow the Nursing School a building of its own on the Boston College Main Campus. This building, still in

Copy of 13

The Pilot, June 14, 1958. BC.2013.28, Michael P. Walsh, S.J., President’s Office Records, Box  2, Folder 6, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

existence today, remains named after the Archbishop who funded it. In a Pilot article dated June 14th, 1958, a quote from Archbishop Cushing’s speech at that year’s commencement read: “‘We have no medical school here but we feel if we can help the nurses we also will be helping the doctors. I am happy to tell you I will donate the new collegiate school of nursing to the Heights.’”[1]

 

The building was not only named after the Archbishop, but it was decided the building required a portrait of its benefactor as well. So began a series of correspondence between Boston College administrators and the artist Peter A. Philippse to determine a size and price for the

Copy of 14

The Pilot, June 14, 1958. BC.2013.28, Michael P. Walsh, S.J., President’s Office Records, Box 2, Folder 6, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

portrait. Phillippse discounted his usual fee by a moderate percentage owing to the circumstances of the work, and the portrait was installed and viewed in Cushing when it was opened and blessed by its namesake. Even with this discount, the portrait was certainly costly. A letter from some dedicated alumnae to their fellow alumnae in the community explained the portrait and requested donations.[2]

Copy of K Alumni donations

Boston College School of Nursing Donation from Alumni, BC.2013.28, Michael P. Walsh, S. J., President’s Office Records, Box 2, Folder 9, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

 

 

On March 25, 1960, Cushing Hall was officially opened and blessed by the Archbishop.    It was a day with much ceremony and fanfare, with schedules for the nursing students to act as guides for the new building and specific requirements as to their uniforms and demeanor.[3] The building was designed and constructed by the architectural firm McGinnis and Walsh, the same that had already been used numerous times on the Heights. They

Copy of J Plaque designs

Boston College School of Nursing Plans for Plaques in Cushing, BC2013.28, Michael P. Walsh, S.J., President’s Office Records, Box 2, Folder 6, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

completed it in a similar stone to the other buildings on campus, and used some gothic elements to tie the building in with others around it. Three plaques were decided upon for meaningful decoration in the building, which tied together the themes of religion and science.[4]

 

This new home on the Heights legitimized the Nursing School on campus. It became more acceptable for women to be on the Heights, and for coeducation to become more prominent overall. The visibility of women on campus eventually spurred Boston College to accept female applications beginning in 1970, when the school finally became completely coeducational. Today Boston College boasts a 54% to 46% female to male undergraduate ratio, and the current nursing program boasts about 400 undergraduates and an additional 300 graduate students.[5] After nearly 45 years in Cushing Hall, the Connell School of Nursing, so named after a benefactor, moved primarily into Maloney Hall in 2015. Nursing at Boston College has come a long way, and consistent with the motto of the university, it will continue Ever to Excel.

John J. Burns Library Collections Consulted

[1] Boston College School of Nursing Donation from Archbishop, in The Pilot, June 14, 1958, BC 2013.28 Michael P. Walsh, S.J. President’s Office Records, Box 2, Folder 6.

[2] Boston College School of Nursing Donation from Alumni, BC 2013.28 Michael P. Walsh, S.J. President’s Office Records, Box 2, Folder 9.

[3] Boston College School of Nursing Tour and Opening Ceremony Schedule, BC 2013.28 Michael P. Walsh, S.J. President’s Office Records, Box 2, Folder 7.

[4] Boston College School of Nursing Plans for Plaques in Cushing, BC 2013.28 Michael P. Walsh, S.J. President’s Office Records, Box 2, Folder 6.

[5] Boston College Factbook, 2013-2014, Boston College, http://www.bc.edu/content/dam/files/publications/factbook/pdf/13_14/13-14_fact_book.pdf.

About John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections at Boston College

The University’s special collections, including the University’s Archives, are housed in the Honorable John J. Burns Library, located in the Bapst Library Building, north entrance. Burns Library staff work with students and faculty to support learning and teaching at Boston College, offering access to unique primary sources through instruction sessions, exhibits, and programming. The Burns Library also serves the research needs of external scholars, hosting researchers from around the globe interested in using the collections. The Burns Library is home to more than 200,000 volumes and over 700 manuscript collections, including holdings of music, photographic materials, art and artifacts, and ephemera. Though its collections cover virtually the entire spectrum of human knowledge, the Burns Library has achieved international recognition in several specific areas of research, most notably: Irish studies; British Catholic authors; Jesuitica; Fine printing; Catholic liturgy and life in America, 1925-1975; Boston history; the Caribbean, especially Jamaica; Nursing; and Congressional archives.
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