Commonwealth Studies And Essays On Love

With Valentine’s Day approaching, BU Today reached out to some of the many Terrier married couples who met while studying at BU or after they graduated. Some fell in love when one of them was a student and the other was working at the University. According to Development & Alumni Relations, 17,954 alumni have married a fellow Terrier since the 1920s. That’s 8,977 couples. The peak decade was the 1980s, when more than 4,100 walked down the aisle together.

To mark Cupid’s big day, BU photographer Cydney Scott visited some local Terrier couples to find out how they first came together. The stories span some six decades.

Are you half of a Terrier couple? Share your story in the Comment section below.

When Jeff Burns (COM’01) survived a nasty car accident on Martin Luther King Day in 2002 because he was wearing a seatbelt, he immediately emailed all of his contacts to stress the importance of buckling up. One of those contacts was Sarah Huber (SED’03,’08), just an acquaintance at the time. They struck up an email conversation and began dating. Four years to the day after the accident, on MLK Day in 2006, Jeff proposed. Now married, Jeff and Sarah have two children, Eli, 5, and Ryan, 8 months, and two dogs, Freddy, a Boston terrier, and Gilroy, a rescued mix, each named for a Terrier hockey great—Freddy Meyer (MET’03) and Matt Gilroy (MET’09). The couple kept the license plate from the car totaled in the accident as a reminder of how their romance began.

Diana Santoro Geigis (CAS’56) and Ernie Geigis (CAS’55) crossed paths briefly during a meeting of the Student Christian Association more than 60 years ago. Diana was a freshman and Ernie a sophomore. The meeting ended before they had a chance to really talk, so when they ran into each other at CAS several days later, Ernie seized the opportunity and asked Diana if she was planning to attend a square dance that evening at the School of Theology. They arranged to meet there, and “that was the end of meeting other people,” Diana says with a smile. They will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary in June with their two children and their families. Asked the secret to a happy marriage: “It’s about spending time together,” Diana says.

Donna DeRosa Connor (CAS’89) and Brian Connor met during their freshman orientation in July in a Warren Towers elevator. They felt an instant attraction (Donna says she was drawn to Brian’s blue eyes), but both were then dating other people. But when they returned that fall to start freshman year, they looked each other up and started dating. Brian, who had been an ROTC student at ENG, left BU and later graduated from Framingham State College. They married in 1992 and today have four children. The oldest, Megan (SED’18, CAS’18), is a BU sophomore. Donna is an administrative coordinator at the College of General Studies, and Brian is a principal software engineer at AOL.

Sharon Chung Sprague (COM’96) and Rob Sprague (SAR’96) met in their freshman English class in 1992. When Sharon needed help navigating her way to her next class, Rob happily obliged. “Our first official date was on Valentine’s Day” that year, Sharon says. The memory of that first date remains vivid for Rob. “We went ice skating at Walter Brown Arena, and then went into the city for dinner and a show.” They are pictured with sons Will, 10 (right), and Bennet, 7, in front of Marsh Chapel, where they were married 13 years ago.

Ed O’Brien (MET’88) met his wife, Trisha Greenwood O’Brien, at a management class they were both taking in 1981. At the time, Trisha was an administrative assistant at the Goldman School of Dental Medicine and the course was for her job. “I shared my Life Savers with her at breaks (not the red ones—I didn’t know her well enough yet to spare a coveted cherry Life Saver),” Ed recalls. “We had our first date that March, with dinner at the old Red Coach Grille on Memorial Drive, across the river from the campus. This was followed by a stop at the lounge on the top floor of the old Howard Johnson’s overlooking Kenmore Square. We married in October 1982, and four kids later, we’re still going strong.”

Julie Onufrak Parker (CAS’05) and Scott Parker (CAS’06) met through mutual friends as BU undergrads. “We had classes in the language lab in CAS at around the same time, so we’d both try to get there early (despite the notoriously early classes) so we could chat for a few minutes before heading off to French (me) and Chinese (him),” says Julie. They were married in 2010 and at least 30 Terriers attended. Today, Julie manages communications for a Boston law firm, and Scott is earning a PhD in mechanical engineering at Tufts. Julie says they still see “tons of BU friends regularly,” including many who were at their wedding.

Tony Rivera (ENG’89) and his wife, Pam Galliatt Rivera (CAS’89), met in spring 1987 at cheerleading tryouts and started dating the following fall. At the time, Tony was in ROTC and after graduating became a US Army officer. The two married in October 1991, after Tony returned from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, where he’d been deployed during Operation Desert Storm. Today, they are the proud parents of three.

Marc Hurdle (Questrom’12, MET'16) and Tabitha Watson (CAS’12, COM’12, Questrom'19) are engaged and plan to marry next March in Chicago, Watson’s home town. They met the summer before junior year in the Warren Towers dining hall. “I thought Marc was really cute when we first met,” says Watson, now senior assistant director for visitor experience at BU's Admissions Center. “But I wasn’t planning to give him the time of day. Like at all. He was, thank God, extremely persistent and wouldn’t take no for an answer when he asked me out. He knew this would work, and he was right.”


1. The National Archives-Public Record Office [TNA:PRO], MH55/2520 ‘Inward Telegram to Commonwealth Relations Office No. 251’, 23 February 1962. The quotation is an extract from Pakistan's main English language newspaper.

2. For a sympathetic contemporary discussion of Ayub Khan’s policies and governance in this period, see Sayeed Khalid. ‘Pakistan’s Constitutional Autocracy’ Pacific Affairs. 1963;36(4):365–77. For a longer view, see: Talbot Ian. Pakistan: A Modern History. Hurst & Co.; London: 2005. expanded and updated edition., and for a summary discussion of living conditions, mortality and morbidity rates, and other matters underpinning population shifts in Pakistan, see Rogers Tom. ‘Population Growth and Movement in Pakistan: A Case Study’ Asian Survey. 1990;30:446–460.

3. The details of this story are drawn from documents in the following TNA: PRO files: MH55/2520, MH96/1226, MH96/1227.

4. See TNA-PRO MH96/1226 ‘Smallpox Imported Cases January 1962 (Wales 1962-3)’.

5. By ‘subcontinental immigrants’ I mean, of course, migrants originating in the nations of the Indian subcontinent.

6. See Strange Carolyn. ‘Postcard from Plaguetown’: SARS and the Exoticization of Toronto’ and Fidler David. ‘Biosecurity: Friend or Foe for Public Health Governance’ in Bashford Alison., editor. Medicine at the Border: Disease, Globalization and Security, 1850 to the Present. Palgrave; Basingstoke: 2006. pp. 219–239. and 196-218, respectively, for more recent examples of a similarly coincidental but still significant overlap between a disease outbreak (SARS) and public policy making and perceptions of risk.

7. By some estimates, as many as 5.5 million were vaccinated; see Tucker Jonathan B. Scourge: the once and future threat of smallpox. Atlantic Monthly Press; New York: 2001.

8. The political context was certainly tumultuous for Pakistan in this period, between the 1960 Gary Powers incident, Pakistan's brief but much criticised conflict with Afghanistan in 1961, and the 1962-3 Indo-Chinese conflict (after which, the US began to supply the loser, India, with weapons on a large scale). For more on the history of Pakistan in this period, see Talbot Pakistan: A Modern History. :153–173. esp.Malik Iftikhar H. Islam, Nationalism and the West: Issues of Identity in Pakistan. Macmillan; Basingstoke: 1999. and Farzana Shaikh's useful review article, ‘Pakistan between Allah and Army’ International Affairs. 2000;76:325–332. There are also several books about the smallpox eradication campaigns in Pakistan and India – see for example, Battacharya Sanjoy. Expunging Variola: The Control and Eradication of Smallpox in India 1947-1977. Orient Longman; New Delhi, India: 2006.

9. Immigrants in the 19th and early twentieth centuries were similarly associated with disease, and either targeted for intrusive scrutiny, excluded, or quarantined (whether medically, socially, or economically). See for example: Bashford Alison., editor. Medicine at the Border: Disease, Globalization and Security, 1850 to the Present. Palgrave; Basingstoke: 2006. Fairchild Amy L. Science at the borders: immigrant medical inspection and the shaping of the modern industrial labor force. Johns Hopkins University Press; Baltimore: 2003. Foley Jean Duncan. In quarantine: a history of Sydney's quarantine station, 1828-1984. Kangaroo Press; Kenthurst, NSW, Australia: 1995. Kraut Alan M. Silent travelers: germs, genes, and the “immigrant menace”. BasicBooks; New York: 1994. Markel Howard. Quarantine! East European Jewish immigrants and the New York City epidemics of 1892. Johns Hopkins University Press; Baltimore: 1997. Markel Howard. When germs travel: six major epidemics that have invaded America since 1900 and the fears they have unleashed. Pantheon Books; New York: c2004. Marks Lara, Worboys Michael., editors. Migrants, minorities, and health: historical and contemporary studies. Routledge; London: 1997. Shah Nayan. Contagious divides: epidemics and race in San Francisco's Chinatown. University of California Press; Berkeley: c2001. [PubMed]Stern Alexandra Minna. Eugenic nation: faults and frontiers of better breeding in modern America. University of California Press; Berkeley: 2005. But this literature rarely touches upon the post-war period, with its changing patterns and technologies of migration, and complex, multivalent forms of national citizenship and identity.

10. Welshman John. ‘Tuberculosis and ethnicity in England and Wales, 1950-70’ Sociology of Health and Illness. 2000;6:858–82. and Welshman Compulsion, Localism, and Pragmatism: The Micro-politics of Tuberculosis Screening in the United Kingdom, 1950-1965. Social History of Medicine. 2006;19:295–312. On the matter of ‘colonial style’ health borders, see Bashford Alison. ‘ “The Age of Universal Contagion”: History, Disease and Globalization’ Medicine at the Border. :1–17. in Bashford.

11. May SRM. “Understanding smallpox: variola minor in England and Wales, 1919-1935”. Queen's College Oxford University; 1999. p. 28. PhD dissertation. and Ministry of Health . Memorandum on the control of outbreaks of smallpox. HMSO; London: 1964. pp. 3–4. For statistics on smallpox, 1950-1960, see Mack TM. “Smallpox in Europe, 1950–1971” Journal of Infectious Diseases. 1972;125:161–9.[PubMed]

12. TNA-PRO MH55/2520 G.E. Godber, “Infant Vaccinations (up to 1 year of age) Acceptance rates before and after repeal of vaccination Acts”, 18 January 1962

13. TNA-PRO MH 96/2341, ‘Letter to all MOsH, all SAMOs Regional Boards, all Boards of Governors, all Smallpox consultants. From PMOs Ministry of Health and Welsh Board of Health’, no date, circa 3 January 1951. Although the exact cost of the public health containment measures required by this outbreak does not appear in the file, investigations and case finding efforts occurred the length and breadth of the UK, involved repeated radio and newspaper calls for public assistance, and major vaccination/revaccination efforts in Brighton.

14. See Holmes Colin. John Bulls’ island: immigration and British society, 1871-1971. Macmillan; London: 1988. especially Chapter 5 (pp. 209-272), and on West Indians as more enculturated p.220-1. For a political overview see van Hartesevldt Fred. ‘Race and Political Parties in Britain, 1954-1965’ Phylon. 1983;44:126–134.

15. TNA-PRO HO 344/5 ‘Commonwealth Immigrants Bill – Analysis of correspondence received by the Home Office during October to November in connection with the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill’, 1961, p.1. The similarity between this response and that of a similar section of the British public to contemporary immigration from Eastern Europe is, of course, striking. Even the specific issues highlighted – the perceived pressure of high immigrant numbers on housing, healthcare, education and the benefits system – are identical, a fact which should raise some questions about the relative importance of race and ethnicity, as opposed to economic, political, and environmental marginality in producing anti-immigrant feeling in the UK.

16. All quotations from TNA-PRO HO 344/5 ‘Commonwealth Immigrants Bill – Analysis of correspondence received by the Home Office during October to November in connection with the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill – Appendix A. Extracts from Letters’, 1961, pp.1-2.

17. Op.cit.

18. See TNA-PRO HO344/44, which documents precisely these measures in 1959. See also the Conservative and Labour party manifestos for the General Election of 1959, won by the Conservatives with a growing majority (available online at, accessed 11 February 2007).

19. The files addressing this problem are shockingly explicit about the both aim and the delicacy of this operation. See TNA-PRO HO344, and its constituent files, and the Labour and Conservative party manifestos of 1964. See also, for a retrospective participant account, Deedes William. Race without rancour. Conservative Political Centre; London: 1968. Deedes states (p.10): ‘The Bill 's real purpose was to restrict the influx of coloured immigrants. We were reluctant to say as much openly.’ Confidential Cabinet documents are considerably more blunt, particularly after the passage of the initial Commonwealth Immigrants Act.

20. TNA-PRO HO 344/14, ‘Working party to report on the social and economic problems arising from the growing influx into the United Kingdom of coloured workers from other Commonwealth countries: Report to Ministerial Committee’, July 1961. Emphasis added.

21. TNA-PRO HO344/14 as above. See also Hartesveldt ‘Race and Political Parties’ :129–32.

22. TNA-PRO HO344/14 as above, note 20.

23. Holmes John Bull’s island. :262–3. also notes the shift of focus from Empire to European Economic Community as a centre of power, allegiance and cultural capital.

24. For a concise sketch of post-war policies and legislation, see Geddes Andrew. The politics of immigration and race. Baseline Books; Manchester: 1996.

25. See MH55/2520, ‘Notes on file’ 21 February 1962.

26. TNA-PRO 175/60 Arnold-Forster Mark. ‘Not much danger – men at work’ Observer. 1962 Jan 21;

27. Holmes John Bull’s island. :260–261. Note that Macmillan's government was also actively drawing Britain closer to Europe and continuing to divest itself of colonies, particularly in Africa. In 1965, the hurdles imposed by the 1962 Act were raised further by a Labour government White Paper intent on an even more selective process. By 1968, the Commonwealth Immigrants Act limited automatic entry to the UK to those Citizens of the UK and Colonies with what were euphemistically called ‘patrial ties’: in effect, to white immigrants. At the same time that Britain was contemplating free entry for all citizens of Common Market nations, the 1971 Immigration Act gave Commonwealth citizens with partial ties free and unrestricted entry and demanded that all others possess a work permit. This act came into effect in 1973.

28. TNA-PRO MH55/2520 “Meeting to discuss measures for tightening health control at airports with particular relation to the situation in Karachi. 5 January, 1962.”.

29. In the end, the Ministry accepted internal arrangements for immigrant health control but, my research suggests, with some reluctance. See Welshman John, Bashford Alison. Tuberculosis, Migration, and Medical Examination: Lessons from History’ Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 2006;60:282–4.[PubMed] and Welshman Compulsion, Localism and Pragmatism’, for a description of these arrangements and their emergence

30. TNA-PRO DO175/60 Confidential Outward Telegram, CRO to Karachi, 15 January, 1962.

31. TNA-PRO DO175/60 Sir Saville Garner, Note for Record, 16 January, 1962, p.1

32. op. cit., pp. 2-3

33. Times, “Letter to the Editor, Cyril Osborne” 17 January, 1962.

34. ‘No fears over doctors lack: Doesn’t apply to Bradford’ Telegraph and Argus: The Yorkshire Observer. 1962 Jan 1;:7. It is worth noting that the Telegraph and Argus [henceforth Argus], as Bradford's liberal broadsheet, was critical of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, maintained a moderate tone, and reproached attacks on immigrants throughout the crisis.

35. Both quotations from “Health Checks: Two cases of smallpox among recent arrivals in Britain have aroused public concern about immigrant control. Argus. 1962 Jan 3;:6.

36. All quotations from “Comment: KEEP OUT THE GERMS” Daily Mail. 1962 Jan 3;:1.

37. Jacobson Michael. “The tribesmen who died of shame” Daily Mail. 1962 Jan 16;:2.

38. Hunter WW. Orissa. 1872 cited in Arnold David. Colonizing the body: state medicine and epidemic disease in nineteenth-century India. University of California Press; Berkeley: 1993. p. 189.

39. TNA-PRO MH55/2520 Confidential Inward Telegram to Commonwealth Relations Office From Karachi 17/2/62 No. 216.

40. See TNA-PRO MH96/1226 ‘Welsh Board of Health Minute to Mr. Dodds’, 25 May 1962; ‘Press Notice: History of Smallpox Outbreak 1961-62 Traditional Methods of control again effective’ 26 July 1961, et passim.

41. ‘Our Readers’ Views: Smallpox Comments on the ‘T&A’ Leader” Argus. 1962 Jan 17;:6. 8, at p.6.

42. Op. cit., at p.8.

43. see sources on India/Pakistan politics

44. TNA-PRO MH55/2520 “Smallpox – some background notes” 18 January 1962.

45. TNA-PRO DO175/60 ‘Extract from “Jang” dated Thursday 8th February, 1962’.

46. The extraordinary measures put in place to halt the importation of smallpox did in fact mandate physical inspection of the vaccination site, and at the height of the scare, a high proportion of incoming Pakistani passengers apparently were so examined, though it is impossible to calculate exact percentages. Medical inspections under less extreme circumstances were often cursory at best. See Welshman Compulsion, Localism and Pragmatism’ for more detail.

47. TNA-PRO DO175/60 ‘Call to Quit Commonwealth’ Daily Telegraph. 1962 Feb 21;

48. TNA-PRO MH55/2520 Haque to Godber, 27 February 1962.

49. See TNA-PRO MH55/2520, DO175/60.

50. TNA-PRO MH55/2518 Ahmed Nasim. ‘UK Press Silent on Smallpox in Indian Towns. Suspected Case of Pakistani played up’ Dawn. 1963 Apr 25; It may be worth noting that whereas little or no press attention was paid to the Pakistani epidemic in 1961 before infection was exported to the UK, in subsequent years considerable space was devoted to WHO and national reports of smallpox epidemics in both India and Pakistan.

51. Quoted in TNA-PRO MH55/2520, ‘Inward Telegram to Commonwealth Relations Office No. 251’, 23 February 1962.

52. TNA-PRO MH55/2520 ‘Confidential Inward Telegram to Commonwealth Relations Office from Karachi, in Cypher. No. 198 By Newsam. To CRO Mr E. Walker, Mr Le Bailly, Home Office Mr. J.M. Ross, M/Health CRO Jones, Foreign Office Mr. J. Cable’. 14th Feb 1962.

53. TNA-PRO DO175/60 Confidential Letter, Morrice James to Saville Garner, 10 February, 1962.

54. TNA-PRO DO175/60 Memo, E.G. Norris to B.T. Gilmore, 17 January, 1962.

55. TNA-PRO DO175/60 “MPs Question Smallpox Laws To-Day: Migrant Danger” Daily Telegraph. 1962 Jan 23; Yorkshire Post as quoted in Hartmann Paul, Husband Charles. Racism and the mass media: a study of the role of the mass media in the formation of white beliefs and attitudes in Britain. Davis-Poynter; London: 1974. pp. 121–122.

56. TNA-PRO MH96/2341 “Ban on Smallpox Area Immigrants Proposed” Guardian. 1962 Jan 27; The story itself revealed that this was merely a proposed amendment to the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill.

57. For the 1948 Mooltan incident, see TNA-PRO MH55/1907; for the 1950-51 Fifeshire-to-Brighton outbreak, see TNA-PRO MH96/2341. See also Ministry of Health . Memorandum on the control of outbreaks of Smallpox. HMSO; London: 1964. The point about declining rates of vaccination did appear regularly in the medical and public health press.

58. TNA-PRO MH55/1831 ‘200 Vaccinated in Secret’ Manchester Guardian. 1960 Dec 15; Letter, A.R. to Ian Sutherland, Dept. of Health for Scotland, 16 December 1960.

59. Emphasis added. TNA-PRO MH148/30 Mary Colthorpe to Ministry of Health, 31 May 1964. For more on the Aberdeen Typhoid outbreak to which this letter refers see: ‘The Aberdeen Typhoid Outbreak’ British Medical Journal. 1964 Dec 26;:1652–1655.[PubMed] which extracts Sir David Milne’s report on the incident; and on the role of the media, Diack Lesley, Smith David. ‘The media and the management of a food crisis: Aberdeen's typhoid outbreak in 1964’ in Berridge Virginia, Loughlin Kelly., editors. Medicine, the Market and the Mass Media: Producing Health in the twentieth century. Routledge; London: 2005.

60. See, for example, TNA-PRO MH58/671.

61. See TNA-PRO MH148/30 Miss J. Gibson to Ministry of Health, 16 September 1964. Gibson, writing from Bradford, expressed typical concerns: ‘Why is it that immigrants are allowed into the country without proper medical certificates … Surely our hospitals are over crowded as it is without having to cater for other countries sick people. Couldn't we set up medical centres in the countries where the immigrants mainly come from and make it law that anyone coming into the country is certified as being medically fit by these British medical centres.’ For further examples relating to tuberculosis among immigrants, see MH148/27-31, and Welshman ‘Compulsion, Localism and Pragmatism’

62. Enclosed in TNA-PRO MH148/30 Super to Ministry of Health, 14 August 1963.

63. TNA-PRO MH148/30 Finney to Minster of Health, 10 May 1966.

64. See Ministry of Health . Report of the Investigations into the Cause of the 1978 Birmingham Smallpox Occurrence. HMSO; London: 1980. See also Pennington Hugh. ‘Smallpox Scares’ London Review of Books. 2002 Sep 5;24:17.


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