BOSTON — Boston College’s chancellor, the Rev. J. Donald Monan, who is credited with transforming the regional Roman Catholic school into a nationally-regarded university, died Saturday. He was 92.
Monan died at Campion Renewal Center, a Jesuit community in Weston, after a brief illness, the university said.
He was Boston College’s longest-serving president. After stepping down in 1996 after 24 years as president, he became the university’s first chancellor.
College President William Leahy praised Monan as a skilled leader who helped transform the Jesuit college from a financially strapped, predominantly male commuter school to a co-educational and nationally ranked university.
“Monan devoted more than four decades of his life to Boston College, playing a decisive role in its reorganization and increased recognition in American higher education,” Leahy said in a statement. “He has left a lasting legacy.”
Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, said Monan “exemplified selfless dedication and service” to God.
During Monan’s tenure, the liberal arts college embarked on a rapid expansion, acquiring a neighboring all-women’s Catholic college and building dozens of dorms and academic and athletic facilities. The college also stepped up its academic standards and student admissions.
Today, Boston College has about 14,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Its endowment is among the largest in the nation, and it has a consistently high standing among national rankings.
As the university came into its own, Monan also became a prominent figure in the strongly Catholic city of Boston and beyond. In 1999, he was one of several Boston leaders who persuaded the New England Patriots not to leave Massachusetts for Hartford, Connecticut.
Monan grew up in the Buffalo, New York, area and became a Jesuit priest in 1955. He taught at St. Peter’s College in Jersey City, New Jersey, and was a dean and vice president at Le Moyne College in Syracuse before coming to Boston.