On March 31, St. John’s announced the appointment of Dennis Hart as the school’s new director of athletics. He will join the SJC faculty this summer.
In December, St. John’s former athletic director, Brian Griffin, made the difficult decision to leave the school in order to relocate with his family. Hart was then selected from a pool of more than 70 applicants after months of deliberation and review by St. John’s Search Committee, which included Jeff Mancabelli, St. John’s president; Chris Themistos, principal; Susie Hinton, director of admissions; Shannon O’Laughlin, assistant principal for academic affairs; Mark Gibbs ’96, director of development; Tom Sipowicz, director of mission integration; and Pat Ward ’93, assistant director of athletics. The committee was advised by St. John’s Trustee Michael Kelly ’88, vice president of athletics at the University of South Florida, and assisted by Maggie Ward, assistant director of athletics, and several SJC coaches.
Hart will bring extensive experience as an administrator, teacher and coach to St. John’s. For the past 14 years, he has devoted himself to the students of his own alma mater, St. Joseph’s Preparatory School, an all-boys Catholic preparatory high school in Philadelphia, PA. He spent the past five years serving as director of athletics, overseeing a robust and successful program that included 40 teams, nearly 100 coaches and more than 700 student-athletes. Prior to that, Hart spent four years as dean of students and five years as a history teacher, including an appointment as the chair of the History Department.
He also coached both baseball and basketball for St. Joseph’s Prep, the same sports he played as a student there. Hart served as associate head coach for the varsity baseball team for 13 years, helping guide the team to four consecutive division titles, back-to-back Philadelphia Catholic League championships and a 2009 appearance in the state semifinal game. He also spent three years as a coach for the school’s basketball program, including time with both the varsity and freshman teams.
Prior to joining the faculty at St. Joseph’s Prep, Hart was a social studies and science teacher at People for People Charter School in Philadelphia for three years. He also coached the boys’ varsity basketball team, which he led to two Independent Charter School League finals. He began his coaching career at St. Matthew School, also in Philadelphia, where he served as assistant coach for the girls’ varsity high school Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) team.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Temple University and a master’s degree in educational leadership from St. Joseph’s University. Hart has also served on a number of professional committees, including the St. Joseph’s Prep Strategic Plan 2020 – Academic Excellence Committee (co-chair), St. Joseph’s Prep Middle States Committee (chair), St. Joseph’s Prep Board of Trustees Athletics and Student Life Committee, the Philadelphia Catholic League (vice chairman) and the Philadelphia Catholic League Board of Directors. He also served as the league’s chairman for baseball and boys’ and girls’ track and field.
Hart and his wife, Kate, will be relocating to the Washington, DC, area with their two daughters, Olivia and Claire.
“I am thankful to the committee for this great opportunity. Having observed St. John’s from afar over the past few years and getting to know it more deeply in the interview process, I have to say I am incredibly excited to be joining such an amazing community of students, faculty and staff,” Hart said. “I believe that athletic programs at mission-driven schools provide some of the most formative opportunities for young men and women, and I look forward to working with our athletic staff, coaches and student-athletes. My family and I are ready for this new adventure and can’t wait to get to know SJC.”
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