Stonehill College has announced that Dean O’Keefe, Class of 1994, and a former men’s soccer student-athlete, will return to his alma mater as the College’s 14th Director of Athletics. The announcement was made today by Rev. John Denning, C.S.C., President of the College, and affirmed by Pauline Dobrowski, Vice President for Student Affairs.
“It is my pleasure to welcome Dean O’Keefe back to Stonehill as our next Director of Athletics,” said Dobrowski. “It is exciting to have one of our former student-athletes return in this important capacity and serve as a role model for not just our student-athletes, but also for the entire student body as the leader of our athletic and recreation programs. I believe that Dean has the necessary skills, talent, and experience to successfully guide these areas of campus moving forward, and I look forward to having him join our leadership team within Student Affairs.”
O’Keefe, who will assume his new role in early July, returns to Stonehill after seven years within the leadership of the athletic department at fellow Northeast-10 Conference member Merrimack College. O’Keefe will oversee Stonehill’s varsity athletic program and recreational sports and is the first alumnus to hold the position of athletic director.
“I am tremendously honored and excited to rejoin the Stonehill family,” O’Keefe said. “I sincerely appreciate this opportunity provided by Father Denning, Pauline Dobrowski and the entire search committee. I look forward to serving the Stonehill community and working with the talented and dedicated students, coaches, faculty, staff and alumni to further our institutional goals and support our students in pursuit of athletic and academic excellence.”
“Dean has a strong track record as an effective athletic administrator and leader,” said Denning. “With his understanding of our mission and his considerable professional experience, he is an ideal fit for this position. A Stonehill graduate, Dean played soccer all four years while at the College. I am very pleased to welcome him back to the College as the first alumnus to hold this position, and I know he will build on the solid foundation of our athletic program.”
O’Keefe served the Merrimack athletic department as its senior associate director of athletics, excluding the 2012-13 academic year when he was appointed interim director of athletics. He was the day-to-day director of all department operations, including budget management, revenue generation, scholarship allocation, marketing and facilities. O’Keefe had administrative oversight of 15 intercollegiate sports. He created and implemented a strategic plan to launch seven new intercollegiate sports programs: women’s golf, swimming, men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and women’s rowing. O’Keefe also built a new strategic revenue and athletic branding plan and successfully transitioned club sports direct responsibility at the College from student involvement to the athletics department.
In his year as interim director of athletics, O’Keefe had responsibility for all facets of Merrimack’s 22 NCAA Division II, one Division I, and ten club sports organizations. He worked collaboratively with the Office for Civil Rights to construct and implement a Title IX compliance strategy to expand female student-athlete opportunities. He led the athletic oversight of an 83,000-square foot athletic complex expansion project and also designed and implemented a new athletic scholarship model to elevate the student-athlete experience.
O’Keefe has been active within both the Northeast-10 and Hockey East, working with the NE-10 Committee on Sports Administration and Hall of Fame Committee as well as the Hockey East Executive Committee, serving as chairperson in 2013-14. He was an adjunct professor in the School of Business at Merrimack and has also served on the College’s Student Code of Conduct Review Committee, Enrollment Management Retention Committee, and Commencement Committee.
“Dean is a terrific choice to lead the athletic program at Stonehill College,” said Jeremy Gibson, Director of Athletics at Merrimack. “He has a real understanding of the challenges that student-athletes and coaches face and is passionate in his efforts to ensure outstanding experiences for participants at all levels of college athletics. I am personally grateful for the support Dean has provided at Merrimack, and I am thrilled for the O'Keefe family as Dean returns to his alma mater.”
Prior to entering into collegiate athletics, O’Keefe worked six years at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, as the vice president of marketing and sales. He also spent six years at Six Flags of New England as Director of Marketing, Senior Marketing Manager, and Promotions Manager. O’Keefe worked for the 1996 Olympic Soccer Organizing Committee, World Cup USA in 1994, and interned at the NBA in Corporate Communications.
O’Keefe earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Stonehill in American Studies and was a four year starter with the men’s soccer program. He was part of the program’s 1990 and 1991 Northeast-10 Championship teams and earned NE-10 All-Academic Team honors. O’Keefe received his Master of Arts in education, with a sport management concentration, from the University of Connecticut in 1996.
O’Keefe and his wife, Candace, a 1993 Stonehill graduate, have two children, Siobhan (14) and Seamus (11), and currently reside in West Newbury, Massachusetts.
With 20 intercollegiate sports, Stonehill boasts one of the top athletic and academic programs in the country. In addition to winning its fifth Northeast-10 Presidents' Cup following the 2014-15 academic year, the Skyhawks have received the NCAA Division II Presidents' Award for Academic Achievement each of the first three years of the program's existence of honoring institutions with an Academic Success Rate (ASR) of 90-percent or better. Stonehill has earned a 96% Academic Success Ranking (ASR) by the NCAA, which considers the academic success rate of the institution based on the graduation rate of student-athletes, good for eighth among all NCAA Division II institutions, with 12 Skyhawk teams receiving a perfect rating of 100%. In addition, the Skyhawks are ranked third in the National Collegiate Scouting Association (NCSA) Power Rankings for Division II used to assess the academic and athletic standards of all NCAA and NAIA athletic programs. Stonehill has also been selected as the host of the 2016 NCAA Division II Field Hockey Championships at W.B. Mason Stadium.