Kyle Garmes – The Beverly Review

When Br. Rice High School officials announced this summer they were seeking a new school president, Mark Donahue, a Class of 1974 graduate and former board of directors member, knew it was a golden opportunity.

“I’ve always been close to the school. I consider it to be the best school in the area,” Donahue said. “I think it has a special and unique place here on the Southwest Side.”

So, after over three decades of working in insurance, he sought a new career path—and found one.

Donahue, of Beverly, has been named the new president of Br. Rice, school officials announced on Oct. 18.

He will succeed Dr. Kevin Burns, who officials announced in July would resign by the end of 2018. Donahue will officially become president on Jan. 1, 2019.

Donahue served three terms on the Br. Rice board of directors from 2007-2016. A former NFL player, he spent the past 36 years working for Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, becoming regional vice president.

Donahue said his career will pay dividends as president of the all-boys Catholic school. His goals include focusing on recruitment and capital development. He also wants to maintain strong relationships with alumni, whether they live locally or across the country.

“If I could put it in a couple buckets,” Donahue said, “it would be sustain and grow our enrollment, continue to enhance our development efforts, both annually and over time, and support the faculty and the academic programs that the school has financially.”

Burns was president of Br. Rice, 10001 S. Pulaski Rd., for 10 years. In a news release announcing Burns’ resignation, Steven Rosenbaum, then chairman of the board of directors, commended him, saying he was leaving the Br. Rice “with its operations in excellent condition” and with its “academic, athletic and extracurricular programs among the best in the area.” He also praised Burns’ fundraising efforts.

In the news release announcing Donahue’s hiring, Board Chairman James Kramer said he is confident Donahue’s former career will help him thrive.

“His sharp business acumen and his strong management skills will be a great complement to the academic qualifications of the school’s administrative team,” Kramer said.

Burns also praised Donahue.

“I have worked closely with Mark over the years,” Burns said, “and am extremely confident that he will provide exemplary leadership to Br. Rice moving forward.”

Donahue is a member of the Br. Rice Hall of Fame. He shined for the school’s football team, becoming a member of the school’s first class inducted into the Circle of Champions athletic hall of fame in 2011.

Donahue played for the University of Michigan from 1974-1978, helping the Wolverines win three Big Ten titles and play in two Rose Bowls and one Orange Bowl. He was named an All-American twice.

Donahue played for the Cincinnati Bengals in the NFL for two years before beginning his career in insurance.

He said he firmly believes in Br. Rice’s mission, which calls for educating students “to act manfully in Christ Jesus.”

The opportunity to play a role in that as school president appealed to him.

“I think that people who graduate from Br. Rice are leaders in the community, leaders in business, leaders in academics, and we played a large role in that,” Donahue said. “It’s a big responsibility, and I think a lot of the men and women who support the school feel that we play a significant role in … the community.”