Report to the President

Student Life

Intellectual and personal development is rooted in the face-to-face exchange of ideas among individuals, both within and outside the curricular context. We believe that the more BU students engage with one another, and the more our academic services are delivered to them with a thoughtful, personalized touch, the more they will learn. BU students should be helped to develop a sense of connectedness to individuals (through clubs, discussion groups, debating teams, internships, volunteer or research work, athletics, and recreation) and to Boston University itself (through the quality of education and the services we offer). We should strive to provide students with educational, social, intellectual, and athletic experiences that will last them a lifetime.

With 74 percent of qualified undergraduates currently in University housing – a number that will soon rise to 85 percent – BU is growing as a large urban university with a distinctive and deliberate residential character. A current challenge is to build a stronger sense of community and connectedness around our residential and academic centers by offering our students (including those who live off campus) a wealth of opportunities for social, intellectual, and civic involvement. The student life experience is already shaped by a large and growing base of student organizations that plan and implement more than 5,000 programs and activities each year. In addition, BU has an active group of cultural, ethnic, and international organizations and populations that contribute to the community in many ways by challenging all its members to explore and engage global, cultural, and ethnic themes. We need to support our students’ activities, both recreational and intellectual, to enhance their BU experience.

Internships, local projects, research, work experiences, and cultural interactions with Boston and its residents can unite students’ intellectual lives and make these activities even more meaningful. Engagement with the city of Boston and surrounding neighborhoods helps us to realize what BU’s third president, Lemuel Murlin, envisioned: a University “in the heart of the city, in the service of the city.” Each year large numbers of BU students already contribute their time to enhancing the city by volunteering and participating in community service activities. We should support these activities. A sense of dual citizenship in BU and the surrounding community should inform and enrich students’ time here, ensuring that they have meaningful, engaged experiences while realizing the University’s responsibility to contribute to society through the application and development of useful intellectual ideas.


Build on the strong traditions of service and engagement in ways that make this a distinctive component of student life at Boston University.

  • Create a network of opportunities for direct engagement in the broader community so that a majority of the student body participates in at least one structured, intellectually challenging, and genuinely contributory activity.
  • Expand the First-Year Student Outreach Project (FYSOP) and the Community Service Center (CSC).
  • Increase support for student organizations to plan and implement campus programs, especially those that explore global, cultural, and ethnic themes.

Develop and maintain student living and learning spaces that reflect commitments to intellectual development, community engagement, the environment, and personal health and wellness; make investments in our built environment that better define and integrate the campuses, facilitate informal gatherings, and make the campus neighborhoods pedestrian- friendly.

  • Establish distinctive, forward-looking, and aesthetically meaningful architectural guidelines for new academic buildings and renovations; emphasize energy efficiency and sustainability, as well as the human scale in thinking about our campuses.
  • Enable students to study and socialize with one another in unstructured spaces in residence halls and elsewhere on campus. (Note: Additional recommendations relating to space may be found on page 15 of this report, under Administrative Staffing, Services, and Systems.)

Establish a University-wide commitment to excellence in service to students, faculty, and colleagues and a culture of continuous improvement for transactional services.

  • Create service structures –organizational, physical, and technical – that reflect the perspectives and needs of those being served.
  • Co-locate services that are similar in mission or serve similar populations in order to ensure prompt, appropriate service for students and to enable smooth referrals and follow-up.
  • Make strategic use of educational technology to maximize faculty-student contact and to accommodate multiple learning and pedagogical styles.
  • Help reduce student anxiety about the University experience, particularly in the first year.

Enhance, foster, and build upon alumni connections; reach out for input on how to improve student life at BU.

  • Instill in students and alumni a sense of pride in the achievements of the University community.
  • Allow every student to keep the same e-mail address for life that is given upon entrance to BU.
  • Ask each alumnus and alumna to mentor a current undergraduate in person or via e-mail.
  • Develop a “class council” system to help alumni organize, stay in touch, and give feedback to the University about how it might improve.

Establish a Student Life Task Force to make more detailed recommendations and to test and implement the strategic recommendations stated above.