Presented by Robert Utzschneider
Chair of the Board of Trustees
August 23th, 2020
During his four plus years of leading the College, Tom has brought stability, a greater focus on mission and purpose, transparency in operations, extensive outreach to friends and neighbors, and collaboration and communication among students, faculty, staff, and trustees.
When Tom joined Pine Manor, the College had experienced four different Presidents and interim Presidents during the previous five years. While the College had operated in the black during FY 2016, it had operated with losses for most of the previous 20 years. Under Tom’s leadership, the College continued to operate with positive financial results during his first three plus years until the pandemic hit during the first quarter of 2020. Tom’s leadership and financial acumen demonstrated during the pandemic was extraordinary.
One of the reasons that Tom joined Pine Manor College was his already strong commitment to the College’s mission of delivering equity and education to first generation, low income, underrepresented communities of color. As President, Tom has focused all stakeholders on improving outcomes resulting from deeper and more effective execution of the College’s mission and purpose. “Growing the graduation rate” became part of the job description of every member of the College’s faculty and staff. Securing external funding to hire a consultant and launch a collaborative development of a five-year strategic plan was an important step in strengthening mission and purpose. Implementing the Initiative for Student Success (ISS) in November 2017 supported the College’s mission and purpose by increasing “every student’s likelihood of graduating by ensuring that students thrive in the classroom, in internships, in the community, and with personal life goals.” Tom’s relentless focus yielded multiple successes, as demonstrated by greatly improved student retention rates between Fall 2019 and Spring 2020.
A critical element of Tom’s leadership has been his continuous and extensive outreach to friends and neighbors of the College. He has invested significant time in building and cultivating relationships with many different constituent groups and these relationships have been critical to Pine Manor College. Tom has repaired broken relationships with many neighbors of the College and the town of Brookline, and these efforts have paid off in many ways, including support during Brookline’s attempts to take land through eminent domain and a neighbor’s funding of an award-winning video promoting the College. His fundraising efforts among alums, foundations, and friends and neighbors have resulted in steady increases in donations to the College. Additionally, more than one million dollars in pro bono work was delivered, including the Deloitte study, marketing and PR services provided by Boathouse, the five-year strategic plan, and legal work provided by Dain Torpy. Tom has also established outreach and cultivated relationships with individuals and organizations in the Boston area that can have a direct influence on the College’s mission, including high school access groups such as Freedom House, The Base, Boston Scores, Dimmock Community Health, the Urban League of Boston, ICIC, and so many others, and such outstanding individuals who he brought to the PMC campus to inspire us all, such as Keith Motley, Katrina Shaw, Mark Gearan, Deval Patrick, Renee Watson, Tommy Chang, Michael Dukakis, Melissa James, Joseph Kennedy, Callie Crossley, Rahsaan Hall, and Deehsa Dyer and many others.
As President, Tom has built collaboration, communication, and trust among stakeholders. He believes in complete transparency and open communications with everyone. Tom is on the same page with trustees, faculty, staff, students, and friends and neighbors of the College. There are no surprises. There are no hidden agendas. Everyone trusts Tom.
The greatest test of Tom’s leadership has come during 2020 as he and the trustees, faculty, staff and students have had to address the challenges of the pandemic. The pandemic stopped all revenues flowing to the College and created uncertainty about whether students will return to campus during the fall. During this crisis, Tom led the College in a calm and thoughtful way. He was always thinking two steps ahead of the game and had to deal with many challenges coming from bankers, regulatory agencies, faculty, staff, students and others. He led the trustees through evaluation of different strategic alternatives. The integration of Pine Manor College with Boston College is a wonderful outcome for both institutions, and only occurred because of Tom’s effective leadership. His relentless focus on the College’s mission and purpose helped to create a mission alignment opportunity and value proposition that excites Boston College.
It is for all of these reasons that the Pine Manor College Board of Trustees has voted unanimously to award President Tom O’Reilly with an honorary degree of Doctor of Education. He has truly led a complex organization through significant transformational change by building collaboration, communication, and trust among stakeholders.
By virtue of the authority of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as vested in the Board of Trustees, I confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Education, Honoris Causa, with all the rights, honors and privileges pertaining thereto.