Boston College High School, the all-boys, Jesuit school located in Dorchester serving grades 7 to 12, announced today that it has named Grace Cotter Regan as its 28th president. Cotter Regan is the first female president in the school’s history and only the second lay president. The first, William Kemeza, retired in June after 16 years on the job.
Cotter Regan has been the head of school at Saint Mary’s High School in Lynn, Mass., since 2012.
“She brings a wealth of educational experience grounded in the Jesuit and Catholic tradition,” Rev. Brian Conley, S.J., the chair of BC High’s Board of Trustees, said in a statement.
Cotter Regan’s selection follows several months of uncertainty over the school’s leadership. Kemeza had announced his plans to retire in January 2016, but when the school indicated that it would not find a replacement by his planned June retirement, he announced in January that he would stay on for another year until a replacement was hired. However, Kemeza then announced in March that he would step down in June after all, before the presidential search results were announced.
BC High was also the subject this past spring of several stories in The Boston Globe about its falling applications and questions over its future. The drop in applicants, plus past scandals at the school over the upskirting of female teachers, are part of a yearslong conversation over whether the school should go co-ed, a possibility that proved unpopular with many alumni.
A BC High spokesperson, Nancy Sterling, told The Globe that Cotter Regan’s hiring will not change the school’s decision to remain all-boys.
Amid the Globe stories, some alumni started to demand that the Board of Trustees remove its president, John McQuillan, and improve transparency in decision-making. The Board restructured this summer, downsizing considerably and reorganizing under the leadership of Conley.
“I am humbled to have been selected for this leadership role and extremely honored to be leading a unique institution,” Cotter Regan said in a statement to The Globe.