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Grads are back in different schools together

Go McQuaid! Go Aquinas!

Attend a basketball or football game between McQuaid Jesuit and Aquinas Institute and you can see the legendary rivalry between these two Rochester-area Catholic high schools.

James Whelehan ’85 and Michael Daley ’90 have much in common besides their RIT degrees.

The competitiveness is historic: McQuaid is a 50-year old, all-male prep-school founded by the Jesuits; Aquinas is a 100-year old, former Basilian-run institution that became co-ed in 1982.

Differences turn into similarities when you consider the presidents of each school: James Whelehan of McQuaid and Michael Daley of Aquinas, who were appointed to their posts last year within two months of each other. Whelehan received an MBA from RIT’s College of Business in 1985; Daley received the same degree in 1990. Both grew up in the area and worked in the telecommunications industry. Both love to play golf.

“Ultimately, we were hired because what our schools need most are leaders with real-world perspective, business people who can raise money and support for our Christian values and educational mission,” says Daley, who lives in the Rochester suburb of Greece with his wife and three children. Daley is currently involved in two separate $5 million revitalization projects for Aquinas, including a fine arts center and athletic complex.

Although he grew up in shadow of Aquinas, Whelehan believes the rivalry between the two schools is overplayed. “It’s simply a matter of letting the best team win,” says the president, who lives in suburban Perinton.

Daley and Whelehan even the score when it comes to their regard for RIT’s graduate business program. They agree it was rigorous but very applicable to real life.

“I can still remember Dr. Jeffrey Lessard and what we called his Lessardian Theory of Economics: that people are lazy, that people are ignorant and that people are greedy,” quips Daley with a laugh. “Maybe that’s why I decided to leave industry and give something back to the community.”

Whelehan agrees: “In business, I was working 100 miles an hour and traveling all the time. I have seven children and it was hard to be there for them; I was missing out on their lives.

“Although my kids still don’t let me help them with their homework, I know what it takes to be president of McQuaid. It’s something I learned at RIT – how to be good at making more out of less.”