The founders and early builders of Boston University quickly made real their vision of a university that created opportunities for people of every race and religion and both sexes. The first president, William Fairfield Warren, presciently said that “the doctrine that a university should exist for the benefit of a single class or sex will soon belong to the realm of pedagogical paleontology.” This founding principle of inclusiveness was accompanied by a practice of engagement in the community.
The early Methodist traditions of inclusion and direct engagement have endured across generations. Because the University is home to both a College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and myriad professional schools, it can offer students a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate educational possibilities—always rooted in strong liberal arts preparation, but with many options for professional training that lead to specific careers.
To survive and prosper despite resource limits and challenging urban geography, Boston University early on developed a spirit of enterprise and adaptiveness. From this enterprising spirit grew a legacy of energy and pragmatic readiness to confront challenges of geography and limited resources. And, in the early part of the 20th century, from a commuter institution with a smattering of buildings around the city, emerged the Boston University we know today—a major private, residential, research university with two campuses in Boston and operations throughout the world.
After almost two years of discussion we have devised a plan that calls for choices—choices that will reinforce Boston University as a great, private, urban, research university. The plan sets eight concrete goals, each resting on the base of a set of ten commitments we have discussed as a community; commitments we make to each other and to our constituencies—students, faculty, alumni, friends.
Our commitments and goals are intertwined:
- To support and enhance a world-class faculty whose members are dedicated to teaching and engaged in research, scholarship, and their professions.
- To continue to develop the special undergraduate educational environment that combines our commitment to a liberal arts and sciences education with professional opportunities, while creating flexible educational opportunities to leverage the depth of CAS and our other schools and colleges. To continue our commitment to inclusiveness based on merit for all students, irrespective of race, religion, or economic status, and to raise the financial aid needed to do this.
- To expand and enhance the College of Arts and Sciences as the core of the University and our undergraduate programs. We are committed to increasing the number of CAS faculty members and expanding and renewing the College’s facilities.
- To enhance the residential campus and student life experience for our undergraduate students in the special urban environment of Boston.
- To strengthen scholarship and research throughout the University by support of key disciplinary graduate programs.
- To enhance our nationally recognized professional schools and colleges, including Medicine, Management, Law, and Fine Arts. Our commitments to Medicine, Law, and Management are key to our prominence as a major urban research university. The College of Fine Arts offers a special opportunity for projecting Boston University on campus, in the city, and around the world.
- To increase our emphasis on interdisciplinary research and graduate education in order to expand our leadership in important fields and the collaborative atmosphere across our campuses.
- To continue to foster the engagement of Boston University in the city and the world, through public service and by extending the reach of our educational programs, including both study-abroad opportunities for Boston-based students and the creation of new opportunities for students from around the world to experience a BU education.
Realizing the vision of our future will not be simple. Our plan calls for an investment of $1.8 billion over the next decade with our annual incremental commitments to these goals growing to $225 million per year in this time frame. We are prepared to make this happen. We will fund almost 60 percent of the plan from operations and by debt financing. We will ask our friends and alumni to help us by supporting critical elements of the plan, such as professorships for our most distinguished faculty, scholarships that ensure access to Boston University for the very best students, programmatic funding for all our schools and colleges, and funding for new facilities and renovations of our existing buildings.
Throughout its history Boston University has made the choices necessary to thrive and grow. Today, we are dedicating ourselves to the next phase of our history and our evolution.