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Friday, September 23, 2005
Marianists look outside
Saint Louis has traditionally been run by a member of the Marianist order, but officials acknowledged yesterday it needs to be open to non-Marianist candidates with the fund-raising and development knowledge required to execute expansion plans.
"The Marianists have done an excellent job with the school to get it where it is now but we'd like to move it up to another level," said Ernest Fukeda, vice chairman of the school's board of trustees and head of the search committee.
DeLong added that, like some other Catholic orders, the Marianist order is shrinking, reducing the pool of potential Marianist candidates.
"There still are a lot of experienced Marianists but they may not necessarily be capable of running a school today," he said.
The grade 4-12 school just added its fourth grade last year and plans to add grades 1-3, possibly as early as fall 2006. The changes will necessitate costly building and remodeling.
Fukeda stressed that any successful candidate must share the "mission and values" of the school, and that Marianist candidates would still be considered.
"The emphasis on spirituality remains the same," he said.
The school has experienced a pair of divisive management changes in recent years, beginning with the ouster of former headmaster Rev. Mario Pariante in 1999 amid a reported rift with the board and the football team's powerful then-coach Cal Lee.
In 2003, DeLong's decision not to renew the contract of Principal Burton Tomita sparked a student petition drive and angered faculty and staff who said Tomita's ouster was handled improperly.
The 73-year-old DeLong, who plans to take a year's sabbatical, said he had originally promised to give the school five years, which ended last June 30, and is staying on another year to help with the transition. After that, he'll go where the Marianists ask him to but said he may return to Saint Louis as a teacher.
DeLong cited a restrengthening of the school's core values among students and a greater focus on academics, including expansion of advanced placement course offerings, as his proudest accomplishments at the school.