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Lynch School of Education Dean Joseph O'Keefe, S.J., Named President of St. Joseph's University

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. (1-24-11) -- Rev. Joseph M. O'Keefe, S.J., popular dean of BC’s Lynch School of Education and an internationally acclaimed expert on Catholic education, has been named president of St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

Joseph O'Keefe, S.J.
Rev. Joseph O'Keefe, S.J.

Fr. O'Keefe, who has served as dean of the Lynch School since 2005 and who oversaw its ascendancy to the top-ranked Catholic school of education in the United States, will be named the 27th president of the Jesuit university at a ceremony beginning at noon today in St. Joseph’s student center.

Prior to being named dean, he had served the Lynch School as interim dean from 2003-2005 and associate dean from 2001-2003, and as a faculty member since 1991.  During his tenure as faculty member he also served as coordinator of the educational administration program and the Catholic School Leadership Program, as well as coordinator of the Lynch School-based Spiritual Growth Leadership Seminar and Selected Programs for Improving Catholic Education (SPICE) initiative.

“Fr. O’Keefe is a dedicated, engaging Jesuit who has contributed so much to Boston College for the past 20 years as a priest, faculty member and dean,” said University President William P. Leahy, S.J. “He understands the importance of integrating intellectual excellence and religious commitment, and he works well with others. I know he will be missed on campus here, especially at our Lynch School. We wish him the very best in his new role as president of St. Joseph’s University.”

Fr. O’Keefe acknowledged that while he is delighted to assume the presidency at St. Joseph’s, he will miss BC and the many lasting friendships he has established over these past 20 years.

“Though I feel great sadness as I leave this remarkable place, I am so grateful for my colleagues on the faculty and staff, for the students I have met, for the generous donors who have supported us and for our partners in the City of Boston and beyond,” said Fr. O’Keefe. “God has blessed me beyond all measure during these past two decades. I am confident that the Lynch School will continue to thrive, and that Boston College’s best days are in the future.”

A native of Salem, Mass., Fr. O'Keefe graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in 1976 and joined the Society of Jesus that year. He taught at Bishop Connolly High School in Fall River before earning his master's degree in French at Fordham University. He also taught for three years at Cheverus High School in Portland, Maine, counting among his students BC’s Vice President for Student Affairs Patrick Rombalski. Fr. O’Keefe received a licentiate in sacred theology from the Weston Jesuit School of Theology and a doctorate in education from Harvard University.

Fr. O’Keefe will remain at BC until March 1.  Decisions on an interim dean and the formation of a search committee to find a successor have not been announced.

Fr. O’Keefe becomes the second academic dean at Boston College to be appointed to a college presidency within the past year, following former BC Law School Dean John Garvey, who was named president of Catholic University in June.

Jack Dunn is director of News & Public Affairs;