Rev. Joseph M. O'Keefe, SJ
Fr. O'Keefe to Head Lynch School
By Reid Oslin
Boston College's Interim Education Dean, Rev. Joseph M. O'Keefe, SJ, has been named the seventh dean of the University's Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch School of Education.
A nationally acclaimed expert in Catholic education and in outreach programs to Catholic schools at the local, national and international levels, Fr. O'Keefe has served as Lynch School interim dean for the past two years. His appointment is effective immediately.
"Fr. O'Keefe knows the Lynch School well from his years as a faculty member and administrator, and he is committed to its mission of teaching, research and service," said University President William P. Leahy, SJ. "I am delighted that we will have him as dean."
Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties John Neuhauser said, "Joe O'Keefe's knowledge of parochial inner city schools gives him a reservoir of experience as he assumes the dean's position. Joe is a kind and good man who is respected and trusted by his colleagues, qualities that will give his deanship a very good start. I have every expectation that he will take an already strong school to even greater accomplishments."
Fr. O'Keefe joined the Lynch School as an assistant professor in 1991, serving as coordinator of its educational administration program and Catholic School Leadership Program. He also was coordinator of the Lynch School-based Spiritual Growth Leadership Seminar and is co-director, with the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) in Washington, DC, of the Selected Programs for Improving Catholic Education (SPICE) initiative.
He works extensively with the NCEA, and directs its National Center for Research in Catholic Education, collaborating with diocesan leaders to commission studies of interest to the Catholic education community. In addition, he has spearheaded Lynch School outreach efforts to Catholic schools, as well as its dual degree programs associated with Catholic school education.
Last year, Fr. O'Keefe won the F. Sadlier Dinger Award for outstanding contributions to Catholic education.
After being named associate dean in 2001, Fr. O'Keefe was named interim dean in 2003 following the departure of former Dean Mary Brabeck to head the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University.
Fr. O'Keefe says he looks forward to starting his new position with some clear goals.
"First of all, I want to build upon the strong partnerships that we have with public and other schools. I also want to aggressively seek out funding for the work that we do here and to tap all possible sources for it. Our work on behalf of children and families is crucial," he said.
"It's the common good, it's civic engagement, it's all those things that a Jesuit university should be. But we need resources to do it - through donors, through foundations and corporations, through government."
Fr. O'Keefe said he also wants to maintain and enhance the Lynch School's tradition of teaching excellence, especially in undergraduate and master's degree level programs. "Teaching and research need not be antithetical," he said. "We do not want to lose the teaching dimension that has been such an important part of our history."
A native of Salem, Fr. O'Keefe graduated in 1976 from the College of the Holy Cross, where he majored in philosophy. He joined the Society of Jesus in 1976, and later taught at Bishop Connolly High School in Fall River before earning his master's degree in French at Fordham University and a master's degree in educational administration from Harvard University.
He then taught for three years at Cheverus High School in Portland, Maine, before earning his doctorate in education from Harvard. He also holds a master of divinity degree and an STL from the Weston Jesuit School of Theology.
"I loved my teaching experience," he recalled, "but I was fascinated by how schools work, how they function. I was told by the Jesuits that I had an aptitude for administration, and initially the idea was that I would be a principal or work in secondary school administration."
But while pursuing graduate studies, Fr. O'Keefe said, he became interested in university teaching and research, and after receiving his doctorate decided to pursue a career in the academy.
In addition to his work at Boston College, Fr. O'Keefe has served on the board of trustees at the College of the Holy Cross, John Carroll University, Le Moyne College, and at St. John's Preparatory School and Boston College High School.