Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr. and Boston College

Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. and J. Donald Monan, SJ

Commencement 1981, Box 7, Folder 100, Boston College Commencement Materials, BC1988-27

Today it would be hard to be a member of the Boston College community and not come into contact with some element of the legacy that Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr. (Class of 1936) has left to the university. The late Speaker of the United States House of Representatives (known to his friends and colleagues as “Tip”) has had a library, a scholarship fund and an endowed faculty position named after him. He even donated his political papers to the Boston College Library. O’Neill never forgot his alma mater and contributed his own time and energy to aid Boston College in its development activities, helping to make the institution grow from a small liberal arts college into one of the nation’s preeminent research and teaching universities.

Despite O’Neill’s many contributions both to Boston College and the nation as a whole, his achievements are in danger of fading from popular memory. For instance, today’s undergraduates were not yet born when he retired from political life in 1986. Years after his graduation from Boston College, O’Neill remained fond of his alma mater and his alma mater celebrated his achievements. This sentiment is evident in the photograph reproduced here. The image shows a sign at Alumni Stadium welcoming O’Neill to the campus for the 1981 Commencement.

Riding on the wave of excitement generated by the publication of John Aloysius Farrell’s Tip O’Neill and the Democratic Century (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 2001), this exhibit hopes to inform and remind people of O’Neill’s legacy as a Boston College student and alumnus. The exhibit uses images and other materials found in the Tip O’Neill Congressional Papers and University Archives housed in the Burns Library.