Life on the Farm

A dean and professor get their hands dirty

By Devin Hahn

In the video above, Virginia Sapiro and Graham Wilson share their other life, far from Kenmore Square.

They spent more than 30 years in Madison, Wis., before packing up and moving East. Relocating to Boston two years ago, they made a home in Kenmore Square, right under the Citgo sign. In that short time they’ve settled in as members of the BU community, Gina and Graham to many, but better known as Virginia Sapiro, dean of Arts & Sciences, and Graham Wilson, College of Arts & Sciences professor of political science.

“My job occupies every nook and cranny of my brain,” says Sapiro, “so it’s very important to have something to help refocus and get some perspective.” They have found that balance 90 miles away, in Gilmanton, N.H.

Sapiro and Wilson fell in love with Jones Mills, a 170-acre farmstead named for millworks that stood there in the 19th century. The property is mostly woodland, home to a variety of wildlife. “We’ve got rats in Kenmore Square,” says Wilson, “but we’ve got moose and bear out here.”

They also have farmland and open space, a handsome homestead, remnants of roads built in another century, and as in most of New Hampshire, plenty of rocks in need of moving and piling.

“I grew up in England, where land is very scarce,” says Wilson, “so it’s a privilege I never imagined I’d have in my life, to have such a large property. And I feel quite strongly that with that ownership comes responsibility.”

“There is a lot of hard work that goes with living in the country,” Sapiro says, “but it’s always inspired by our best guess of what we can do to shepherd this piece of earth so it will be in good shape for the next people.”

And then on Monday, it’s back to the Citgo sign, and a different kind of stewardship.

Devin Hahn can be reached at

This article first appeared in BU Today on October 19, 2009.

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