Community, Big Yet Small

Mag McCarthy (CAS'20) works to pull some interest to the Global Medical Brigade during Splash on Nickerson Field.


Community, Big Yet Small

With more than 34,000 students and 10,000 faculty and staff, Boston University is a big place. This allows us to offer majors across 17 distinct schools and colleges, provides opportunities for faculty to partner with colleagues who are experts in an endless array of fields, and connects us to a massive alumni network spanning the globe. A large university can also be overwhelming. We believe that BU can offer the best of both worlds: the resources of a large, urban university with copious opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to find their own small communities within the University.

The Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground hosted the LGBTQ+ Community Welcome Reception in  collaboration with the Center for Gender, Sexuality and Activism (CGSA) as part of BU's Weeks of Welcome on September 11, 2019. Alex Pan (COM'22) (from left), Bret Lavelle (COM'22), and Nicole Beymer (CAS'22) were among the many students and faculty that came to the event.


Pictured here from left to right, Charlie Adelmen (COM '10),
Matt Kurkowski (COM '08),  Matt Donnelly (COM '10), and  Nancy
  • Impart a common identity and focus for engagement with university-wide activities

    Connect students to one another, and BU, for a lifetime.

  • Promote common interests and affinity activities and groups

    Foster new connections and a sense of belonging for students, faculty, and staff by supporting and creating ways on campus to engage with peers and colleagues beyond traditional academic and professional settings.

  • Further integrate the Medical, Fenway, and Charles River campuses

    Connect our three Boston campuses to make our University more intellectually robust, diverse, and interesting.

  • Engage the alumni in the life of the university

    Alumni are vital to our continued success, as professional mentors to our students and ambassadors and advocates for our University in the larger world.

Progress in Action

The Newbury Center

Boston University opened new doors in 2021 with the launch of the Newbury Center, a support hub for first-generation undergraduate, graduate, and nontraditional students. The center is endowed by a $6 million contribution from Newbury College, a local, private liberal arts institution that closed in 2019, with a legacy of serving students from all backgrounds, many of whom were the first in their family to go to college.

BU shares this strategic goal of broadening access to higher education. The benefits are two-fold: recruiting and retaining talented students from diverse backgrounds and paving the way for our students’ future professional success. The center will smooth the initial transition of first-gen students to college life, and establish a sustaining link between their home and University lives. And the center will be with students every step of their journey at BU and the transition toward post-graduation goals, including connecting students with alumni and the Center for Career Development.

With the lasting support and follow-through of the Newbury Center, first-gen students will be ready to participate completely in campus life, feel that they belong here and have important contributions to make, and have a clear path forward in their professional lives.

Igor De Paula ENG'16, Fritz Jolivian ENG'17, William Belt COM'16 at the Splash event on Nickerson Field.
Recruiting and retaining talented students from diverse backgrounds benefits the student and University alike.
“Petals from the Prophet” Muslim students hand out flowers on Marsh Plaza for Islam  Awareness Month.
We’re developing new ways to recognize and nurture the layered perspectives that make our students such valued additions to our campus community.

Intersectional Identity Initiative

At Boston University we value the whole individual—the nuances, the facets, the layered perspectives that give each community member their sense of self. To honor this principle, we are developing plans for an Intersectional Identity Initiative, which would provide services on campus that never existed before, in support of students as they face challenges—personal, academic, or social—arising from aspects of their identity.

Programs would address intersectionality from three perspectives: engagement (the art of being), empowerment (the art of becoming), and interconnectedness (the art of belonging). Events and programs will include outreach to alumni, guest speakers, faculty training, and curricular elements. The initiative would also include a counseling and mentorship component as students consider and describe who they are and how they see and experience the world, with the goal of long-term success and fulfillment at BU and beyond.

Just some of the tangible benefits resulting from this initiative will be improved student engagement in the campus community, enhanced academic success, and higher student retention rates—a win for all of us.

See more examples of our progress in action