Op-Ed: A Legend Passes and a New Leader Rises at Moses Brown School

Providence prep school welcomes a new head of school while honoring an old grand master


This fall has been a particularly active one for Moses Brown School. As students began a new semester, they were welcomed by Katie Titus as the new head of school. She’s maintaining a frenetic overbooked beginning as she is engaging students, faculty, parents, and alumni in her new role.

Titus brings a wealth of experience to the new position, most recently as the interim head of school at the prestigious Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco. During her 26-year career, some of her previous positions included heading Mercersburg Academy, where she was the first woman to lead the 125-year-old institution in Pennsylvania, associate head for school life at St. George’s School in Middletown, and director of college counseling at Pingree School in Massachusetts, where she also taught math, served as an advisor, and coached the champion varsity basketball team.

She prides herself as a leader, a learner, and a listener, with expertise that ranges from strategic planning and curricular innovation to enrollment and fundraising. In short, she understands education, not just as it has been and where it is now, but how it needs to evolve to meet the global challenges children will face in a rapidly changing world.

Just a few weeks into the new season, Moses Brown also lost perhaps one of the most beloved and iconic of its old grand masters, who taught and served at the school for over 70 years. King B. “Doc” Odell continued as both the school’s historian and someone with the unique ability and irreverent sense of humor to bring generations of alumni together.

Generations of students remember his distinct fashion: a blue sport coat and black raincoat with large black square glasses that never missed a thing. Odell taught French and chaired the Language Department. He was opinionated, forthright, and didn’t take prisoners, famously telling then-presidential candidate George McGovern, whose son was a student at Moses Brown at the time, “You’re a nice looking man, but you’re a Democrat and I’d never vote for you!”

He was a coaching legend in track and field, winning three RI Interscholastic Winter League Championships, 22 NE Prep School Winter Championships, eight NE Cross Country Championships, and 14 NE Prep School Spring Championships.

Over 500 people attended Odell’s retirement dinner. He had a passion for teaching and a gift for relating to people and his legacy lives on through the lives of hundreds of students that he mentored.

This is the proud tradition that the new head of school looks forward to combining with her own unique perspectives. Titus grew up in Fair Haven, Vermont, a town of 2,700 known for its slate quarries, where she attended public school. She received her bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a minor in secondary education from Middlebury College, where she was a standout on the women’s basketball team, scoring more than 1,000 points in her four-year career and serving as a two-year team captain. She received a master’s in educational leadership from Columbia University in New York City.

Titus enjoys staying active, whether walking the family’s black Lab, Ivy, gardening, or rollerblading. She’s an avowed podcast fanatic, continuing to learn through the experiences and stories of others. She and husband Stuart have two daughters: Natalie, a junior in college, and Samantha, a senior in high school, and the family will be living on campus.

Titus looks forward to embracing and expanding the wonderful traditions of her new school, speaking for both herself and her students: “You can expect that we will have high expectations of you because we know what your potential is, and we want you to reach it.” She leads from truth and optimism with her own values of collaboration and deep commitment to her communities.


Moses Brown is the sixth oldest prep school in the country with roots dating back to 1784.

Op-eds express the authors’ opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of Providence Media. Readers are welcome to send responses or letters to the editor to be considered for print publication in a future issue or posted online. Letters can be emailed to Abbie@providenceonline.com



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