BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
Bestsellers have been written about the leadership styles of great headmasters like Frank Boyden of Deerfield Academy and Endicott Peabody of Groton School. Frank Hogan, who died June 27 in Point Loma, California, merits his own tribute for the spirit he gave and advancements he made as head of the Latin School of Chicago from 1992 to 2004.
He was also a “Classic Chicagoan” in his ability to share noteworthy memories of the city he grew up in and loved, demonstrating how each day can be fun and important when you lead a purposeful life. His was the ability to impact institutions by impacting individuals.
Being there for people was something that Hogan did best.
At Latin, you would rarely find him in his office. He would be out in the halls, speaking to students, to teachers and staff, to parent volunteers, showing his interest, learning what was happening in their lives. An education expert wrote recently that in an average day, a school principal has to make as many as 1,000 decisions. These interactions not only motivated but contributed to the wise recommendations Hogan made for Latin.
One alumnus remembered a field trip for ninth graders to the Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. It was dark as students were readying to survey the stars when suddenly he saw his headmaster striding through the gardens to watch with them.
His longtime assistant Tracy Franklin captured essential Frank Hogan: “In an era before cell phones, Apple watches, and Fitbits, Frank was helping me achieve 10,000 steps long before I knew anything about taking 10,000 steps for optimum health.
“Overseeing Frank’s daily calendar of appointments from 7:30 a.m. until after 5 p.m. meant starting and ending appointments on time. This was a challenge if a meeting was not held in his office. When a meeting ended, Frank would start to make his way back to his office, but inevitably he would run into a Latin parent, trustee, faculty, or staff colleague and stop and chat. This was one of his most personable qualities. However, this great quality also meant Frank would be late to his next appointment! If Frank was 5 minutes late for his next appointment, I started looking for him. My mantra around school was, ‘Have you seen Frank?’ If a faculty or staff member saw me in the halls walking at a fast-paced clip, they usually responded, ‘Oh, you must be looking for Frank!’ ”
He was at every game where the Latin Romans played across Chicagoland, every theatrical or artistic event, at sad and happy occasions for his community, and with Latin family members at Yoshi’s, his favorite Chicago restaurant, or entertaining guests at his Diversey Avenue apartment with his perspicacious and delightful wife, Nancy, at his side.
Having worked in partnership with him during my term as chair of the Latin board, I remember another occasion where Frank was in charge and the difference it made. When I heard that the first plane had hit the Twin Towers on September 11, I knew I had to go straight to Latin. Frank was already assembling upper school students in the cafeteria and had talked with the heads of the other divisions about immediate safety precautions. He didn’t know what parents or other family members might have been in New York at the time. He quickly came up with a plan to protect the students and the school as reports came through that there were possibly planes coming into the Loop. He was calm and in charge, warm and supportive in his strong, quiet way and saw the school through that unspeakable day.
In remembering Frank, I turned to a few people who knew him best during his term as headmaster. Jill and Richard Almeida who worked with him as volunteer leader and board member shared, “Frank Hogan was quite simply the quintessential definition of a perfect headmaster. Under his leadership for 12 years, the faculty, parent body, and student body operated in sync. He was a wonderful combination of integrity, sense of humor, common sense, and compassion. He would often drop by to observe various sports competitions at Latin, and his personal style was punctuated with kindness and warmth.”
Marshall Front, who served as Hogan’s first board president, worked closely with Hogan recalled, “After I recruited Frank for the head of school position, he and the board resolved to take the steps necessary to make Latin the finest independent day school in the nation. He never wavered from that goal in every major decision including those regarding hiring key administration staff and faculty, improving curriculum, growing enrollment and increasing financial aid to improve diversity, expanding the school’s footprint by building a new middle school and upgrading existing facilities, supporting High Jump, and upgrading the athletic program. For the first time, we attracted to the board outside community leaders whose expertise and wisdom enriched board deliberations and extended the schools’ connections with Chicago community leaders.”
“Great progress toward achieving our vision was made under Frank’s leadership. Latin School went from a good neighborhood school to recognition nationally for its excellence. It eventually became the school of choice in Chicago, in my view. The stars were aligned for him, and he took advantage of that to take control and move ahead with his visionary agenda,” he continued. “Frank led the school with patience, grace, a steady hand, and great self-effacing humor. He loved the school and those who were close to him loved, admired, and respected him. His work ethic was exemplary. On many days he could be found at the entrance to the lower school greeting students and their families by name with an encouraging word as the day began.”
“Frank Hogan is responsible for making my 30-year career at Latin possible. He transformed the school during his tenure. Frank was ever present in the halls, the athletic competitions, and arts performances,” added Shelley Greenwood, Latin’s Assistant Head of School. “He helped raise Latin’s national profile. He was a strong, compassionate leader. Frank made every effort to know each member of the school, personally. Faculty and staff were always delighted when he returned for a visit. They simply don’t make them like Frank any more. I have so many wonderful memories from the years we worked together.”
During his tenure as Latin’s eleventh headmaster, enrollment grew from 872 to 1,088 students. The number of applications also increased by 25 percent, while the endowment grew from $3.2 million to $15 million.
Hogan helped to launch a $50 million capital campaign—the largest fundraising effort ever undertaken by a Chicago-area private school at the time—and guided planning for construction of a new middle school. The middle school commons is named for him.
A Chicago native, Hogan grew up in Rogers Park with a Jesuit education and a devotion to his alma maters, St. Ignatius, Loyola Academy, and Loyola University. He learned much from his father, Frank J. “Tweet” Hogan, who was a theatrical and television booking agent, and previously the leader of the Drake Hotel’s favorite dance band, the Tweet Hogan Orchestra. The wonderful reminisces with Hogan about his beloved city and denizens such as Bob Newhart made working with him all the more fun.
Hogan worked for over three decades at independent schools, beginning his career in education as assistant to the president of Loyola Academy in Wilmette. He also served as headmaster of Elgin Academy from 1975 to 1985. Prior to assuming his leadership role at the Latin School, he served as headmaster from 1985 to 1992 of the Ransom-Everglades School in Miami, Florida. He received the Robert Bell Crow Award for his distinguished service to the profession and Latin from the Council for Advancement & Support of Education.
In recognition for his contributions to the school, the board of trustees named Hogan “President Emeritus” upon his retirement.
He saw the hidden potential in people and institutions and looked for ways to expand Latin’s role in the community through the other institutions he connected to it. Everyone in Chicago seemed to know, love, and admire Frank Hogan. He will be deeply missed.