Boston College Remembers J. Donald Monan, SJ (1924-2017)


Fr. Monan at Desk

Fr. Monan, 1974. BC2000_005_ref1266_001. Boston College faculty and staff photographs, Boston College. John J. Burns Library

J. Donald Monan, SJ, the 24th president and first chancellor of Boston College, died on March 18, 2017. The significance of Fr. Monan’s contributions to Boston College and the Boston College Libraries over his decades in office cannot be overstated. His tremendous efforts resulted in the building of many new campus buildings, including O’Neill Library. In acknowledgment of his many contributions and in his memory, the Libraries created several exhibits:

  • Bapst Library, Gargan Hall landing: Si monumentum requiris circumspice (if you seek [his] monument, look around)

Fr. Monan led the University throughout a particularly transformative period. From 1972 to 1996, every aspect of Boston College – academics, facilities, and campus culture – experienced profound change.

Featuring material from the University Archives in Burns Library, these cases feature the advancement of BC’s academic mission under Fr. Monan, with not only the addition of new graduate programs, departments, and interdisciplinary areas of study, but also an expansion of campus facilities to create state of the art teaching, learning, research, and student spaces. Also highlighted is how the BC Libraries benefitted from Fr. Monan’s vision for research, with the construction of the Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr. Library (1984), the complete renovation of Bapst Library (1986), and building of the Law Library (1996). Fr. Monan set the BC Libraries on the path to becoming a member of the Association of Research Libraries, which was achieved under the leadership of Fr. Leahy in 2000. 

  • O’Neill Library, Level 3: The Libraries Millionth Volume 
Fr. Monan at millionth volume ceremony

Father Monan, flanked by University Librarian Mary Cronin and Academic Vice President William B. Neenan, S.J., at 1987 celebration marking the acquisition of BC Libraries’ one-millionth volume. (Gary Wayne Gilbert)

Fr. Monan and then University Librarian Mary Cronin commemorated the acquisition of the Libraries millionth volume in a celebration in held Gargan Hall on September 22, 1987. The volume and a photo of the event are currently on display in the main entrance lobby of O’Neill Library opposite the circulation desk.

The volume is a copy of the Decretals with commentary of Pope Gregory IX, printed in 1473 in Mainz, Germany by Peter Schoeffer, an apprentice of Johann Gutenberg. It was purchased by anonymous donor for Burns Library in 1986.

Fr. Monan at O'Neill Library Dedication, 1984

BC1991.098e, University Archives, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

The Boston College Libraries have created a digital exhibit in tribute to Fr. Monan’s many contributions. Drawing from available digital content, the exhibit includes multimedia content reflecting some of the ways in which Fr. Monan transformed the Boston College Libraries and the impact he had on the Boston College community.

Additional information, links, and resources can be found at

This entry was posted in BC History, Exhibits & Events, University Archives and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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