Education is Essential

COVID-19 has presented a tremendous challenge for Saint Ignatius High School to balance our mission of providing an academically rigorous, Catholic, Jesuit education along with the health and safety recommendations of leading healthcare experts. On Monday, March 15, students returned to full-day, in-person learning.

Saint Ignatius High School

Peter Hendler: Building a Legacy

Perhaps no person is more responsible for the campus of Saint Ignatius High School today than Peter Hender, Director of Campus Operations. After 23 years, the leader of countless renovation and construction projects, as well as oversight of facilities, takes his leave of campus.

If you have noticed any newly constructed or renovated buildings on the Saint Ignatius High School campus over the past 23 years, you can bet the man behind their creation was Director of Campus Operations Peter Hendler.

Hendler oversees 28 employees in departments including grounds, technical, maintenance and custodial. From managing the people to balancing the budget, he has successfully maintained 22 buildings on 25 acres of land. It was only after a few years as the Director of Campus Operations that he also took on the responsibilities of the Chief Engineer and began overseeing all construction projects.

During his tenure at Saint Ignatius High School, Hendler has been responsible for the expansion and turf installation at the Kyle and McLaughlin fields, the Carfagna Family Magis Athletic Center, new track at Wasmer Field, the Clavius Science Building, Marian Mall, Kesicki Hall (The Welsh Academy), the Breen Center for the Performing Arts, renovations to Gibbons Hall, among many other buildings and infrastructure upgrades.

“All new construction has been rewarding for me. I had the unique ability to be part of the planning, budgeting, and construction of buildings,” says Hendler.

After training a team, at least half of which report to him directly, Hendler has “enjoyed seeing their interest grow.” Working within the Saint Ignatius community and getting to know people on a personal level is something he has also enjoyed about the position.

Hendler’s path to working at Saint Ignatius was a rocky one, after first being turned down after applying for a position with the school that was more maintenance focused. The school later called him back and asked him to stay for just one year to help build up the Campus Operations department and train employees.

One thing led to another and Hendler has now stayed for over two decades. He says he is glad he turned down other opportunities to work at Saint Ignatius, which included a position as Chief Engineer for The World Trade Center in New York City.

Vice President of Operations and Chief Financial Officer Richard Klingshirn ’79 says he never had to worry about Campus Operations because Hendler had a handle on everything from maintenance to construction and everything in between. He says one of Hendler’s significant achievements was the renovation of Kesicki Hall. “He transformed an eyesore into nothing short of a spectacular building,” says Klingshirn.

He went on to say that Hendler is quietly competent and doesn’t need accolades after a job well done. Saint Ignatius High School President Rev. Raymond P. Guiao, S.J. ’82 says that Hendler’s previous experience serving in the U.S. Coast Guard shows in the way his staff oversees the optimal working of the school facilities.

“I am impressed by his careful approach to work and details and finishes never escaped him,” says Fr. Guiao. He recalled one of Hendler’s early projects as part of the team that worked on the St. Mary of the Assumption Chapel and how he meticulously reviewed the building to ensure everything was the way he had envisioned it.

“Without him and his work, we could not complete our work in educating young men,” says Fr. Guiao.

After retirement, Hendler plans to travel, ride his sailboat around Lake Erie, and relocate with his wife to South Carolina in the coming years.