By Jane Lawicki
John J. Chandler, following a 45-year career with Saint Ignatius College Prep, has been named its new president, effective July 1, 2020. Chandler will be the first non-priest in the school’s 150 years of Jesuit leaders.
“I’m humbled and excited to follow in the footsteps of Jesuit leaders from the past,” Chandler said. “There’s an element of ‘joyful challenge’ in it. It took me three months of discernment, praying about it.”
Chandler, a native Chicagoan, is a graduate of Notre Dame University and began teaching at Saint Ignatius in 1974 as a classics and social studies teacher. He has taught within every academic department except for religion. He also had the opportunity to move up through the school’s operations and, through the years, Chandler served as the school’s business manager and vice-president of operations. He currently serves as vice-president of development and operations.
“The Jesuits saw in me what I didn’t see in myself,” Chandler said as he noted roles as teacher, department chair, business manager, capital planner, and development leader. He has coached soccer at Saint Ignatius since 1974 and still works as an assistant coach. He continues to teach one class per semester, saying it allows him to stay in touch with students and their needs and reminds him of the school’s larger vision.
“Some people move from place to place in their career,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to develop new skills, new opportunities here.”
“Over these past ten years I have thoroughly enjoyed working with John,” said the retiring president, the Rev. Michael Caruso, SJ. “His deep Chicago roots, his passion for the Catholic/Jesuit mission of the school, coupled with his encyclopedic knowledge of members of our community, all position him well to be an extraordinary leader.”
Fr. Caruso’s ten-year term ends when the school’s 2019-2020 150th anniversary year concludes. A member of the Midwest Province of the Society of Jesus, he will return to his Central-Southern Province home to await his next assignment.
Patrick J. Nash, chair of the Saint Ignatius board of trustees, praised his work to strengthen the school in the Jesuit tradition. “Two strategic plans were developed under Fr. Caruso’s leadership,” Nash said. “These initiatives have improved the academic programs of our school in many ways.”
Regarding Chandler’s appointment, Nash said Chandler’s vision for Saint Ignatius’s future as one of Chicago’s most important educational institutions impressed the search committee and board. “We look forward to working with John as we embark on a new era for our school,” he added.
Chandler also serves on the board of trustees of Mercy Home for Boys and Girls and is board chair for Ancilla College in Donaldson, IN. He enjoys farming in his free time.