Jonathan Daube was one of three former college presidents to join for the event.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — When Catherine Addy was hired to become Berkshire Community College's second president, Robert Boland was nearing retirement.
"I was completely intimidated by him. I thought the best I could do was stay out of his way, let him do his magic, and then kind of step in and take some of the credit because he worked at BCC and so did I. That seemed like a good plan at the time," Addy said.
Boland joined the new Berkshire Community College in 1961. A theater professional, he was chairman of the Theater and Fine Arts Department, overseeing more than 60 productions, was influential in the development of arts majors at the college and contributed his expertise to numerous arts and cultural organizations. He died in 2016 at age 90.
When Boland announced his retirement in 1988, Addy advocated having the college's main theater in the Koussevitzky Arts Center named for him.
"This was not as much of a slam dunk as I thought it would be. It was somewhat controversial at the time and it did take two votes of the board of trustees to come to fruition," Addy said.
Current BCC President Ellen Kennedy said that after it was renamed, there wasn't a celebration or even a sign. This fall, the college decided to place his name above each door to the theater. And on Saturday night, four college presidents, faculty, Boland's companion Tom Blalock, and alumni joined together to re-dedicate the theater after the college's first faculty member.
"Bob would not allow us to have a formal naming of it. Although we could refer to it, there were not pieces other than our publications. There was no real official naming on the facility," Kennedy said. "It was a special moment, though bittersweet, that we were able to put his name posthumously on it."
Boland had an emphasis on the arts and served a vital role in the design and construction of the college's Koussevitzky Arts Center, which opened in 1973. He later went on to do the same for the restoration of the Colonial Theatre.
"His reputation and the work that he did to build this college so far exceeds what anybody ever dreamed possible out here in the Berkshires," Addy said.
Former BCC College President Paul Raverta had worked with Boland on a number of projects. He said Boland had cataloged all of the college's art and restored the General Bartlett statue, which the story says was rescued by the college's first president from being tossed when it was found in the basement of City Hall. Boland had taken that casting and restored it and it now stands at the college.
While the theater was known as the Boland Theatre, there hadn't been anything to indicate that at the college.
"I worked with Bob Boland while I was here at BCC, approximately 20 years after he retired. He was still that committed," Raverta said.
Jonathan Daube was the college's second president. He remembers Boland's love for art, dance, music, cooking, gardening, publishing, and restoration. Daube marvels at the breadth of Boland's dedication.
He said Boland truly understood the role of the community college system and made a difference in people's lives.
"He was devoted to Pittsfield and the Berkshires. He could have made it anywhere in the United States but he chose to live and work in the place he was born," Daube said.
Boland died in 2016 and Daube believes his life should be celebrated each and every year at the college.
"I can't believe that it's been over two years since Bob died. Maybe we should be paying tribute to him in this space every spring," Daube said.
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