By Robert Dickson
A product of Jesuit education, and a Philadelphia native, Mr. Dan Annarelli is transitioning into his new position, Dean of Men, with a decade of experience at Loyola and a strategy to build a stronger relationship between the dean and the student body.
Growing up on the East Coast, Mr. Annarelli attended St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Similar to Loyola, St. Joe’s Prep is an urban, all-boys, private Jesuit school. After graduating from St. Joe’s, Mr. Annarelli attended Fordham University, located in the Bronx, New York, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in history.
“New York was extremely intense, and the Bronx was extraordinarily eye-opening. It was the late 90s, the Yankees were winning the World Series, Rudy Giuliani was mayor, and the influx of immigrants at the time, especially in the Bronx, made for a very diverse kind of demographic around Fordham. It was pre-9/11. It was exciting. There was a feeling, all the time, in New York that you were on the pulse of the earth,” he said.
What was originally supposed to be a stop before law school, St. Joe’s served as the beginning of Mr. Annarelli’s teaching career. Through the school’s Alumni Service Corps, a program that allowed any graduate of St. Joe’s to return for one year after college and teach, Mr. Annarelli taught history and religion.
“I realized I was pretty good at it. I realized it was something I enjoyed. I realized it was something I could follow through on. I put off plans for law school or any of that stuff and thought ‘You know what, let’s see where this teaching thing could go,’ ” Mr. Annarelli said.
After the 2001-02 school year, Mr. Annarelli taught in Pennsauken Township, New Jersey, at Bishop Eustace Preparatory School, a private, co-ed Catholic school, while simultaneously attending night courses at Villanova University to earn his master’s degree in history.
After four years at Bishop Eustace, Mr. Annarelli decided to pack his bags and move to Rome, Italy, where he wrote his thesis and completed his master’s degree in 2006. Mr. Annarelli said, “I was obsessed with Italy. Ever since I was a high school student and I visited Italy for the first time, I’ve just been drawn. I’m Italian, my family is Italian, my grandparents spoke Italian, so I’ve always been drawn, and to Rome in particular because I am a history guy. I feel very much at home when I am in Rome.”
After living for approximately a year in Rome, Mr. Annarelli broke up with his long-term girlfriend who had moved to Rome with him. Not knowing exactly what to do next, Mr. Annarelli received an email from Loyola’s Assistant Principal for Curriculum and Scheduling Mr. Andrey Aristov, Class of 1980, inquiring if he would be interested in applying for an open teaching position.
“It was like this divine intervention. Here I am; I had just recently broken up, I didn’t want to go back to Philadelphia, but Rome was this amazing place, and then there was this email kind of blinking, and I go ‘Alright, what’s this all about,’” he said.
Luckily, he already had plans to be back in the States to attend a friend’s wedding and his mother’s birthday. During his time in the States, Mr. Annarelli flew out to Los Angeles and interviewed for the teaching position.
He took the position and moved to Los Angeles.
Mr. Annarelli said living in Los Angeles has its advantages. “I always said if I am going to live in Los Angeles, I am going to live by the beach,” he said. “One of the great things about living where we live is you can be hiking, surfing and skiing in the same weekend. And I like to do those things.”
During his first year at Loyola, Mr. Annarelli taught freshman and sophomore World History. The following year, he taught Honors World History and Advanced Placement (AP) European History, a course that had previously been cut from the curriculum to make room for AP Art History. In addition to teaching, Mr. Annarelli began coaching JV baseball in 2007.
Often recognized by teachers and students as a sociable person, Mr. Annarelli loves to meet new people. At one time, Mr. Annarelli even drove for Uber, an app that allows consumers to use their smartphones to call for a taxi operated by an Uber driver who drives his or her own personal car. Mr. Annarelli enjoyed being able to talk to random people and gain new perspectives.
“I love Uber. I think it is amazing. I just went and got the license and it was easy. It was never about the money, it was about doing something different,” he said. Although Mr. Annarelli enjoyed his tenure, he has since retired as an Uber driver.
As he takes on the new dean position, one of Mr. Annarelli’s main initiatives is to spread positive energy throughout campus. Using Twitter as a vehicle for conveying his message, Mr. Annarelli encourages all students to follow his Twitter handle, @DEANNARELLI. Past tweets from @DEANNARELLI include: “Another day at the High! I can already sense it will be a good one, with fresh clean faces and shirts tucked in,” and “Good luck to all 1256 Loyola students who are starting their 2015-2016 school year today! Good luck and GO CUBS!”
Although Mr. Annarelli is excited to be the dean of men and spread positive energy, he realizes there are a lot of responsibilities that come with decisions he will have to make every day. “The dean is probably the most scrutinized position on campus. Parents, students, teachers, counselors, and coaches all interact with me, and every one of them has an opinion about every decision I make. You can’t please all the people all the time, so it puts me under a microscope in a way,” he said.
Providing insight to current students about the reasoning behind his philosophy, Mr. Annarelli said, “Part of my job will involve me taking a hard stance on hard decisions, but that’s part of life. And, at the end of the day, my goal for myself and for the students around here is to always be mindful of the fact that we are a part of a community, we are building a kind of unity around here, and that there is life beyond Loyola. This is not a four-year plan, this is a forty-year plan. Decisions that are made day in and day out are important, but they are important because they are going to have a long lasting impact. Even if you get in trouble, and you feel angry about that JUG or you got suspended, ten years from now you will look back and understand that it made sense. It is all about perspective.”
Mr. Annarelli said that despite the hard decisions he will have to make, he believes he has been trained well by his predecessor, Mr. J. Michael Wood: “The thing that sticks out about Mr. Wood is that he made difficult decisions, but he never backed down. He lived with the result, good or bad, and he had thick enough skin not to let it break him. That is the hard thing about leadership – being accountable to whatever the consequences may be.” Mr. Wood left the dean position in June after taking the principal position at his alma mater, Jesuit High School in Sacramento, California.
Mr. Annarelli reemphasized the tradition and value of Jesuit education at Loyola. “I think it is really important that people around Loyola be familiar with Jesuit education and understand the mission of this school. It is way more than just doing your job. It is really about the development of young men, and I had a tremendous introduction to that in my own Jesuit education,” he said.