Boston College was founded by the Society of Jesus in 1863 and, with 3 teachers and 22 students, opened its doors on September 5, 1864. Through its first seven decades, it remained an exclusively liberal arts institution with emphasis on the Greek and Latin classics, English and modern languages, and philosophy and religion.
Originally located on Harrison Avenue in Boston's South End, where it shared quarters with Boston College High School, the University outgrew its urban setting toward the end of its first 50 years. It moved to then-rural Chestnut Hill, on the site of the former Lawrence farm, where ground was broken on June 19, 1909 for the construction of Gasson Hall. Gasson, known at the time as the Recitation Building, opened in March 1913. The three other buildings that would form the core of the campus St. Mary's Hall, Devlin Hall, and Bapst Library opened in 1917, 1924, and 1928, respectively.
During the 1940s, new purchases doubled the size of the main campus. In 1974, Boston College acquired Newton College of the Sacred Heart, 1.5 miles away. With 15 buildings on 40 acres, it is now the site of the Law School and residence halls housing more than 800 students.
Though incorporated as a University from its beginning, Boston College did not begin to fill out the dimensions of its University charter until the 1920s, with the inauguration of the Summer Session, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Law School and the Evening College. The 1930s saw the introduction of the Graduate School of Social Work and the College of Business Administration (now known as The Wallace E. Carroll School of Management). The schools of Nursing and Education (now the Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch School of Education) followed in 1947 and 1952. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences first offered doctoral programs in 1952, followed by the graduate schools of Education, Nursing, Management, and Social Work.
In 1927 Boston College conferred one earned bachelor's degree and 15 master's degrees on women through its Extension Division. By 1970 all undergraduate programs had become coeducational, and today women comprise more than half of the University's enrollment. In 1996 the Evening College became the College of Advancing Studies, offering master's as well as bachelor's degrees. That same year, the University's longest presidency, 24 years, came to an end when J. Donald Monan, S.J., became chancellor and was succeeded in the presidency by William P. Leahy, S.J.
In 1997, President Leahy announced the implementation plan for "Advancing the Legacy," BC's $260-million, five-year investment to strengthen education, reaffirm its Jesuit and Catholic mission, increase research, and improve the quality of student life.
In November 1999, Boston College launched a $400 million fund-raising campaign. "Ever to Excel: The Campaign for Boston College" will create 100 endowed faculty chairs, add $50 million to undergraduate and graduate financial aid, target support for academic centers, libraries, and selected undergraduate and graduate programs, and help fund new construction, including a planned student center and humanities building.