Photo courtesy of Archbishop Williams High School
Weeks before the school year is set to begin, Braintree’s Archbishop Williams High School has hired Milton resident Dennis Duggan to become the new school president.
Duggan will replace Dr. Carmen Mariano in the position, who has moved from president of the school to principal. Mary Lou Sabowski, the previous principal, retired on June 30.
With both Duggan and Mariano in leadership positions at the school, Archbishop officials are excited for the year to begin.
“[These are] two distinguished graduates of the school who have been avid supporters of the school for years in terms of time, treasure, and talent,” said David Francis, Chair of the AWHS Board. “The face of the school in terms of its academic and athletic opportunities has changed dramatically for the better over the past five years in particular. The addition of Dennis Duggan as president further solidifies the school's very bright future.”
Duggan, 60, is a graduate of Archbishop. Along with being an attorney, he is an experienced fundraiser, a tool that will help him in the new position, school officials said.
“The Archbishop Williams' Community will greatly benefit from the leadership of Dennis
Duggan, who brings experience, knowledge, and organization skills as solid assets which will positively influence the school community,” said Michael McCarthy, Chair of the Search Committee. “His commitment and passion for the school will further support and enhance the school's continued excellence. This change in leadership is a significant opportunity for positive organizational change.”
Although Duggan attended the Braintree school, he was born in Dorchester and grew up in Quincy, attending Quincy Public Schools through junior high.
During his time at Archbishop Williams, Duggan was a student athlete and a member of the National Honor Society. He graduated from Archbishop in 1970, and went on to Boston College, where he graduated magna cum laude in 1974.
He then earned his law degree from Suffolk University Law School, where he graduated cum laude.
Before entering his private practice, Duggan served as the Law Clerk to a Federal District Court Judge. He has also been an associate to partner for the law firm WilmerHale (then known as Hale and Dorr), and as a partner for Nixon Peabody (then known as Peabody and Brown).
According to a release, Duggan served in firm management for more than 15 years, including in its Management and Compensation Committees. From 1999-2007, he then served as Chair of the Litigation Department.
During this time, Duggan would serve on the Suffolk Law School Alumni Association, become a member of the Suffolk University Board of Trustees for nearly 20 years, and even chaired the Presidential Search Committee for the university.
Additionally, he served on the St. Mary’s of the Hills School Committee for over 10 years.
Duggan has also been committed to Archbishop Williams over the last several years.
In addition to serving for six years on the Board of Trustees as Chair of the Development and Governance Committees, he also led the search committee in 2007 when Mariano was appointed the school’s first president.
Duggan was also recently inducted into the school’s Academic Hall of Fame for his professional and academic achievements at the high school and beyond.
In Milton, Duggan and his wife, Mary – also an Archbishop graduate, have been leaders in the community. While Mary is a speech pathologist and ESL teacher, Duggan has been a long-time coach at Milton High School.
Together, Mary and Duggan have four children. They also have five grandchildren.
In a phone interview, Duggan said he would be focusing on two main areas as he takes on the new role.
"There are two [main goals], Increasing the enrollment of the school and increasing the endowment. Not that I’m one that points to years past as, 'in the good old days,' but the school had an enrollment of 800-1000 and now the school’s enrollment is approximately 530," he said.
The enrollment is crucial, Duggan said, as the school is very much tuition-driven.
"Going hand in hand with that is the endowment piece, because a lot of people today are struggling economically and they are looking at college tuitions, which are ever increasing, and they are wondering, 'If they ever want to send a child to a private catholic school, can I do that and can I also send my child to college?' So they are facing difficult decisions," Duggan said.
That economic stress means students and their parents are turning to more public school educations, which are starting to look more attractive.
"In addition to the traditional competitiors we’ve had, like BC High, Xaverian and Notre Dame, we’re also facing the competitiors of surrounding towns, each of whom have build new facilities in the last 5-10 years," Duggan said.
Add in the problem of an aging facility, and Duggan has a lot of work on his hands.
Regardless, Duggan is prepared to focus on alumni relations to help deal with some of these financial constraints, and said he is grateful to have Mariano on staff to help him adjust to the new role.
"We have a very solid foundation and 60 plus years of history ...[this school] has a firm place in the area of education in the South Shore,” he said. "We’re not in trouble, but we don’t want to just survive, we want to thrive."