President Richard O’Hara announces resignation


Katherine Grimm

During the End of the Year Mass, President and Interim Principal Richard O’Hara speaks about the ending relationship between JC and Mountain Christian Church. O’Hara announced his resignation the week before the Mass and clarified that the Board of Trustees will create a search committee for an Interim President.

On April 25, President and Interim Principal Richard O’Hara announced his decision to resign from his position at the end of the year. This information was sent to the community via an email from Chair of the Board of Trustees Elizabeth Campion.

According to O’Hara, being involved with the education system for the last 28 years, ten of which he has been the president of JC, was beginning to take a toll on him. “It has been an especially challenging year. At some point, you start to think about what’s God’s will or what you feel is best for you, your family and those closest to you, and what’s best for the school,” O’Hara said.

According to O’Hara, when he first became President, the Board of Trustees wanted him to be a “change agent” for the school. This motivated O’Hara and challenged him to “advance the greater good” of the community. “I wanted to convey to John Carroll and all those associated with it that we have been a wonderful, terrific school for – when I got here it had been 43 years – and I just hoped to focus everybody on a high vision in all aspects,” he said.

Since O’Hara was entering his tenth year with JC, he decided to reflect on this decision and evaluate his position. He also began to consider retiring from his position after his daughter informed him that she was expecting his first grandchild. “I want to be well enough to enjoy my grandchildren and not have a job at this level that is very, very demanding and can be extremely stressful,” he said.

Besides becoming a grandfather, O’Hara would like to be more involved with nonprofit organizations that help underprivileged children, those with special needs, immigrants, or the homeless. “I’m interested in helping kids, particularly underprivileged kids, [and] maybe [doing] some foundation work to help raise money for educational opportunities,” he said. O’Hara would also like to write a book at some point and play more music.

Although O’Hara’s final day is June 30, the Board of Trustees has asked him to be around throughout the summer to help transition Tom Durkin as the new principal in addition to assisting the interim president. There will also be business aspects that O’Hara will still be involved with, such as negotiating with two potential satellite schools in Shanghai, China and communicating with donors.

In terms of finding an interim president, O’Hara believes that the Board of Trustees will most likely put together a search committee to find the best candidate to start in July. The Board will then have to “[make a committee] almost immediately after that for the person that would start July 1 of next year.” Although O’Hara will not be directly involved with the process, he thinks he will be asked to look over resumes or meet finalists.

Looking back, O’Hara recalls the difficulties the school faced during the recession, including the drop of enrollment. “There were a number of schools that just went under during the recession, but we were able to keep things well managed and keep things afloat,” he said. “We just had to readjust, but that was a very difficult time that we encountered.”

O’Hara also adds that one of the most difficult aspects of his position is that “so little is black and white in the decision making that has to occur.” He explains that, “there is so much grey area and so many moving parts and complexities because you’re talking about people [who are] coming from different perspectives and having to consider all of that in decision.”

His main advice for the incoming president is to “learn from Mr. O’Hara’s mistakes” and to stay focused on the mission statement. “Don’t forget that anything you want to accomplish and how you want the school to be as a community starts with you,” he said. “You have to model high standards, accountability, compassion, kindness, love for people, [and] devotion to students.”

Although O’Hara was unable to accomplish everything he wanted, he noticed how the community has improved in several ways and is a “truly respectful” community. “I think that we’re a more diverse community than we were 10 years ago racially, ethnically, different religions … I think even among our domestic population we are more diverse community, and yet quite unified,” O’Hara said.

While this decision is bittersweet for O’Hara, he thinks this is the right decision and is hopeful for the future of JC. “I’m very optimistic that the school will pick its new leaders well. I have a lot of high hopes for this Strategic Plan,” he said. “I think we have a terrific faculty, and I think they’re only going to get better.”

However, the main aspect he will miss is working in a school environment and those involved with the JC community. “The best people I have ever met have been school people, so that will be a big gap. I’ll miss the times of great spirit whether it’s at a football game or at an induction ceremony. All that stuff is very meaningful for me,” he said.

Caroline Cooney is the Editor in Chief of The Patriot and