Rhodes Scholar named ninth headmaster of The Haverford School

August 27, 2012


The Board of Trustees of The Haverford School unanimously approved the appointment of Dr. John A. Nagl to succeed Dr. Joseph T. Cox as Haverford’s ninth headmaster, beginning July 1, 2013.

This appointment is the culmination of an extensive international search in which the Board Search Committee and a specially appointed Faculty/Staff Subcommittee screened and interviewed numerous highly qualified candidates before unanimously agreeing that John Nagl was a perfect fit. The Haverford School’s search consultant, Spencer Stuart, deserves special credit for identifying John Nagl as a potential candidate and engaging him in the search process.

Nagl is an award-winning scholar and teacher, an author, an extraordinary role model, a decorated retired military officer, and a tested and authentic leader. He serves as the Minerva Research Fellow in the Department of History at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and is a past president and current nonresident senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. Although Nagl’s credentials are extraordinary, what struck the Board Search Committee, the Faculty/Staff Subcommittee, and The Board of Trustees was his inspirational leadership and passion for educating future generations of boys and young men. Nagl will value, respect, and complement the strengths and traditions of Haverford while clearly focusing on the future – refining The Haverford School’s vision, purpose, and direction and inspiring excellence on all fronts.

Nagl is a proud graduate of the all-boys Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, Neb., and a distinguished graduate of the United States Military Academy Class of 1988, where he was selected as a Rhodes Scholar. Nagl then served as an armor officer in the U.S. Army for 20 years, where he served in tank battalions in both Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He earned two Bronze Star Medals for meritorious service. Nagl then taught international relations and national security studies at West Point’s Department of Social Sciences and in Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program; he also served as a military assistant to two deputy secretaries of defense. Nagl earned his doctorate in international relations from Oxford University in 1997. In 2001, he earned the George C. Marshall Award as the overall top student and the Benjamin Grierson Award as the top strategist at Command and General Staff College.

Among other publications, Nagle is the author of Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam. His writings have been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. He has been profiled in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times Magazine and has appeared on The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, National Public Radio, 60 Minutes, Washington Journal, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

In addition to serving as Haverford’s headmaster, Nagl will also be a Haverford parent. He and his wife, Susanne, have a son, Jack, who will enter Haverford’s Middle School next year.

“I am enormously proud to be joining The Haverford School as both the headmaster and a parent. I have been impressed by the sense of community and shared commitment to excellence I have observed among the staff and faculty, the Board of Trustees, and the boys I’ve met. It is a particular joy to follow in the footsteps of Joe Cox, a man I have known and admired for more than 15 years. I hope to continue his legacy of servant leadership while ‘building men for others,’ ” said Nagl.

The Board of Trustees would like to thank the members of the committees who gave significantly of their time and talent throughout this process. The committees have spent the past seven months reviewing the backgrounds of, and meeting a broad number of, highly qualified educators from independent schools and other educational institutions. With the assistance of Spencer Stuart, more than 300 candidates were screened, and a pool of 65 candidates was considered. Interest in the Haverford headmaster opportunity was extremely high, and the School was fortunate to have attracted so many exceptional prospects.

The Board also would like to thank the members of The Haverford School community who shared their insights and perspectives throughout this search and on whose counsel and advice it relied. Many expressed that they want a headmaster who will lead the School with passion, commitment, and integrity. In Nagl, the School believes that it has found an individual who possesses those qualities, someone who will base every decision on what is in the best interests of Haverford’s boys and the long-term health of The Haverford School. The Board is confident that Nagl’s capacity for inspirational leadership, personal warmth, and insightful thoughts about educating boys in the 21st century will serve the School exceedingly well in the future.

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