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History of the Bishop Healy Committee

Holy Cross Alumni Involvement: The Bishop Healy Committee

It is well documented how the administration and faculty of the College of the Holy Cross have worked on the issue of diversity at the College over the past four decades. The Alumni Association has had the opportunity to participate in this progress of diversity on campus through the activities of the Bishop Healy Committee.

At the urging of John McDonald, M.D., ‘42, the then Holy Cross General Alumni Association Board of Directors (now The Holy Cross Alumni Association) established the Bishop Healy Committee in June 1979. The Committee took its name from James Healy, an African American, the valedictorian of Holy Cross’ first graduating class and the first Bishop of Maine. Its stated goal was to “discover and implement means of alumni participation in efforts to foster interracial understanding, interaction and friendship within the Holy Cross Community.”

Although diversity at Holy Cross had long been a concern of the alumni in 1996 at the request of the Alumni Association’s Strategic Planning and Implementation Committee a report was commissioned to address how the Bishop Healy Committee could be more effective in carrying out its goals.  The results addressed specific areas of alumni support: the recruitment of black students, the retention of students of color, the increase of black alumni involvement at Holy Cross and the governance and process for accomplishing what the Committee and the HCAA had earlier proposed.  Coupled with compelling data from the study and with renewed support of the administration it initiated the current era of the Alumni Association’s direct involvement in the issue. Very quickly the efforts where directed to and included all ALANA students and alumni. President, Rev. Gerard Reedy, S.J. applauded the HCAA and gave his complete and enthusiastic support to the efforts of the Bishop Healy Committee and called this “another beginning” at The College of the Holy Cross. 

The Bishop Healy Committee has been one of the most active committees of the Alumni Association. Two of its programs have become signature campus events:  the Town Hall Meeting for ALANA students usually held in February and attended on average by over 50 students plus faculty and alumni; and, the ALANA Baccalaureate Banquet held the evening before graduation and attended by an average of 250 to 300 including graduating seniors, their families and members of the campus community.  The Committee also assists in sponsoring the annual ALANA Brunch held during Family Weekend in collaboration with the Class Dean for ALANA and International students. Each of these events has been extremely successful and meaningful for ALANA students and their families, but they have enriched the entire College community by recognizing, valuing, and embracing diversity.