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Seven Hills School chief Chris Garten to exit; search underway for replacement

Note: This article is a reprint of Liz Engel’s article from Sept. 14, 2022 for the Cincinnati Business Courier. For more information on our search for a new Head of School click here.

The longtime headmaster of Greater Cincinnati’s top-ranked private school has announced plans to step down, capping a nearly 50-year career in education.

Chris Garten, head of Seven Hills School since 2009, will retire at the end of the 2023-2024 school year, capping a 15-year tenure in the top leadership role and a 46-year tenure overall. Seven Hills announced the news Wednesday.

The school will partner with consulting firm Resource Group 175, based in Akron and Boston, to conduct a global search for a new head of school. The goal is to make a hire by the end of the current school year to ensure a smooth transition, according to a release.

Garten’s exit coincides with the 50th anniversary of a merger between College Preparatory School and the Hillsdale-Lotspeich School, which created the modern era of Seven Hills.

Garten said the occasion will be “a joy” and celebration of all that has been accomplished.

“I am enormously proud of how the school has evolved,” Garten said in a statement. “With the guidance and support of the board and Seven Hills’ administrators, faculty and staff, the school has launched a host of innovative programs to prepare our students, even more fully, for lives of meaning and purpose.” 

Garten joined Seven Hills in the fall of 2009 after 22 years at Savannah Country Day School in Georgia. Prior, he served nearly nine years at the Collegiate School for Boys in New York. He received his B.A. in comparative literature from Princeton University and an M.A. in English literature from Columbia University.

Board of trustees Chair Steve Baggott thanked Garten for his “energetic and visionary leadership” and his “tireless work” leading the institution.

Under Garten’s guidance, Seven Hills has spent $45 million on new facilities, increased enrollment to the highest in school history, gained solid financial footing, spearheaded programmatic enhancements, progressed in faculty compensation and diversified its student body.

“From opening doors in the morning car line to navigating the uncharted waters of a pandemic, Chris’ love for the Seven Hills community is profound,” Baggott said in the release.

Seven Hills, Greater Cincinnati’s fifth-largest private school, serves grades pre-kindergarten through 12th. It operates two campuses: Hillsdale campus in Madisonville and the Doherty campus in East Walnut Hills.

Seven Hills, with a total enrollment of 1,035, routinely ranks as the top private school in the city and state, according to Pittsburgh-based data company Niche. It was named the No. 1 best private high school, No. 1 best college prep private high school, No. 1 best private K-12 school in the Cincinnati area and No. 2 best college prep private high school in Ohio for 2022.

Its tuition for 2022-2023 is $29,740, per Business Courier research.