L.A. prep school Harvard-Westlake’s long time leader, Tom Hudnut, is retiring. And Groton vet Rick Commons is stepping in. Thomas C. Hudnut came to Harvard (when it was still all boys) in 1987, making an inaugural speech at a special parents assembly cluing them in to the way to get him on the phone anytime: “Just mention my dog, Lamont”.
Tom had been at Katherine Branson (now called Branson) before HW. A recent article in the Harvard Westlake Chronicle credited him with leading the effort to combine Harvard and Westlake, building the faculty, improving the athletics, visual arts and performing arts programs to be competitive on a national scale, spearheading development of new athletic, science and arts buildings, and extending financial aid to nearly 20 percent of students.
Our personal notes also want to insert that water polo was not much of a thing at HW until Tom’s son Peter Hudnut came to campus. He was exceptional and went to become a member of the US men’s national water polo team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In the process, the water polo team at HW became a major BFD.
The new President of Harvard-Westlake – Richard B. Commons — who most recently was the Headmaster of Groton School in Massachusetts — one of New England’s top prep schools along with Exeter, Andover, Lawrenceville, etc.
Rick was a faculty member at HW in 1992 for five years as an English teacher, college counselor, assistant dean and soccer coach. Rick left HW to become Dean of Students and Assistant Headmaster at McDonogh School, a K-12 day and boarding school near Baltimore, Maryland. He started his career at Woodberry Forest School, a boarding school in Central Virginia. He has been at Groton since 2003.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Rick received his Bachelor of Arts with Distinction from the University of Virginia, a Master of Arts in Teaching from Stanford University, and a Master of Arts from the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College.
Rick’s wife, Lindsay McNiel (’96), is a HW alumna. They have two children, Matthew, 5, and Clara, nearly 2.