Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J.

President, Boston College

Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J. is the 25th President of Boston College, a post he has held since 1996. He was born in Omaha, NE and raised in Imogene, IA. He joined the Society of Jesus in 1967. Fr. Leahy earned a Bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a Master’s degree in United States history at Saint Louis University in 1972 and 1975, respectively. He then began studies at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley in Berkeley, CA, where he earned degrees in theology (1978) and historical theology (1980). He was ordained a priest in 1978. He received a doctoral degree in U.S. history from Stanford University in 1986.

He began his academic career as a teacher at Campion High School in Wisconsin from 1973-1975. He served as a teaching assistant at Stanford in 1981 before joining the Marquette University faculty as an instructor of history in 1985. He became an associate professor with tenure in 1991, and in that same year became Marquette’s executive vice president.

Since assuming the Boston College presidency, Fr. Leahy’s tenure has been marked with an acceleration of the growth and development of the university. BC’s endowment has more than doubled, it has expanded by almost 150 acres (607,000 m²), and undergraduate applications have surpassed 30,000. At the same time, its students, faculty and athletic teams have seen unprecedented success — winning record numbers of Truman, Marshall, Fulbright, Rhodes scholarships, and other academic awards; setting new marks for research grants; and winning conference and national titles. In 2002, Fr. Leahy initiated the Church in the 21st Century program to examine issues facing the Roman Catholic Church in light of the clergy sexual abuse scandal. His effort brought BC worldwide praise and recognition for “leading the way on Church reform.

In 2004, Fr. Leahy announced plans to merge the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry to advance BC as the world’s foremost Jesuit university and a leading center of Catholic intellectual thought. In athletics, Boston College left the Big East Conference and joined the Atlantic Coast Conference on July 1, 2005.

In 2006, after a two-year self-study involving more than 200 BC faculty, administrators, students and alumni, Fr. Leahy announced a $1.6 billion Strategic Plan that called for hiring 100 new faculty, adding a dozen new academic centers and spending $1 billion in construction and renovation projects to elevate Boston College to the highest echelon of premier national universities. The Plan set seven strategic directions for the University: To become a national leader in liberal arts education and student formation; to enhance its research initiatives in select natural sciences and in areas that address urgent society problems; to support leadership initiatives in BC’s graduate and professional schools; to expand international programs and partnerships; and to become the world’s leading Catholic university.