Greg Farrell, Civic Reformer and Schools Innovator, Dies at 84


“I thought schools would be better if they were more like that,” he added, “and wondered if you couldn’t learn reading, writing, science and math and the rest the way you learn how to find your way and acquire the skills and understanding you need on an Outward Bound expedition.”

Richard Stopol, the president of New York City Outward Bound Schools, which has partnered with hundreds of schools and involved about 150,000 students, said in an email that Mr. Farrell “was what I would call a relentless visionary — someone who regularly saw possibilities where others didn’t and tenaciously pursued them until they became realities.”

EL Education emerged from a winning proposal that his team had made for the New American Schools Corporation, an entity started by President George H.W. Bush in 1991. Mr. Farrell was president until he retired in 2008. The program now serves an estimated 500,000 students annually.

He served on several nonprofit boards, including ReServe, which taps the creative resources of people over 50, some of them retired; and the EDGE Foundation, which coaches young people with attention deficit disorder.

“Greg has helped educate young people, enabling them to gain self-confidence and a better shot at a good life,” said Herb Sturz, another former colleague who had recommended Mr. Farrell’s appointment as president of the Fund for the City of New York.

Gregory Roland Farrell was born on Nov. 27, 1935, in Chicago to Edward and Dorothy (Rowland) Farrell. His mother was a college-admissions officer, and his father was a salesman. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Princeton in 1957.

In 1968, he married Catherine Otis, who became a professor and dean at LaGuardia Community College in Queens; she died last July at 77. In addition to their son Nick, he is survived by another son, Andrew; and two grandchildren.

After college, Mr. Farrell said, “I had a generalized humanitarian instinct I didn’t know quite what to do with. And I was looking for some kind of adventure. If there had been a Peace Corps then, I would have tried to get into it.”

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