The Search for Our New President
An in-depth look at the job, the process, and the candidates.
February 6, 2017
Roles and Responsibilities: Breaking Down the Position of School President
Over three days last week, Skutt Catholic board members, administration, and faculty interviewed three finalists for the role of Skutt Catholic’s new president. As the search for a new president nears its end though, taking a step back to understand the significance that this decision has on the future of Skutt Catholic is vital.
Archdiocese of Omaha Superintendent and former Skutt Catholic president Patrick Slattery explains, “The President of an Archdiocese of Omaha School articulates the mission and vision of the school and assumes total responsibility for its external and internal operation. [They are] responsible for creating and promoting a strategic vision for the institution, seeking financial resources for the school, and maintaining sound fiscal management of all business operations.”
Thus, Slattery says, the role of president is largely synonymous with that of a CEO of a business. Just like a CEO, the president is concerned primarily with the bigger picture. He or she works strategically to develop fundraising efforts to support the school’s needs and protect the soundness of its business operations.
One common confusion when it comes to the job of the president is its difference to job of the principal. In fact, at one time in the school’s history the two jobs were one and the same. “Mr. Slattery took the role of principal and president,” Mr. Keith Englekamp says, who has taught at Skutt Catholic since day one. “The job responsibilities were interwoven.” Today, however, the principal and president are different positions with separate and distinct responsibilities.
While the principal is primarily concerned with the academic functioning of the school, the president must embrace a much broader range of focus, extending to the spiritual, business, development, staffing, maintenance, and long term needs of the school. It takes a special kind of leader to take on this demanding role and all that it requires.
For this reason, the hiring of the new president has not been a simple task. It requires someone well-versed and competent in all facets of the school, especially the behind-the-scenes aspects.
“I think a candidate for the role has to be patient, competent, faith-filled, student- and staff-centered, be a risk taker on some level (you can’t drive progress if you are not willing to take some risks), be committed to Skutt Catholic, hard-working, honest and trustworthy,” Slattery sums up.
This is everything hoped for and more in whomever is selected as the next president of Skutt Catholic.
Long Road for a Lofty Position: How a President Is Hired
Now that everyone has a good understanding of what exactly a president does here at Skutt Catholic, let’s take a look at the process.
The process began as many job openings do, with a public posting that a position is a available and applicants are welcome.
“We asked the entire Skutt Catholic community to reach out to folks that might have an interest in the position or be a good fit,” said superintendent and former Skutt Catholic President Patrick Slattery. “A search committee comprised of board members, parents, staff, and me visited with six applicants in an off-campus interview,” he concluded.
Of those six applicants, three were selected to move forward in the process and have in depth reference checks completed on them. Two of the three are the familiar faces of Skutt Catholic’s very own, Mr. Bloomingdale and Mr. Moore. These three were then brought on campus for interviews with the board of directors and also members of the staff for a formal question and answer period.
Among these staff members were the principal and vice principal. “My role is rather limited,” principal Mr. Rob Meyers says. “I was asked to provide feedback based on the interview process. We have three very good candidates for the position, all bringing different strengths to the position. In the end, I think we are looking for a dynamic, inspiring leader who will lead our school and position us for continued success.”
Then a search committee, comprised of board members and staff, can recommend a finalist to Archbishop George Lucas, if one stands out from the other two. It might be surprising that the Archbishop would be the final say in deciding who will have the highest power position in a specific school. However, since Skutt Catholic is as the name suggests a Catholic school, the Archbishop has the final say in nearly all matters of hiring and procedure at the school.
After considering the input of the committee, the Archbishop will make a final decision and notify the new President. Then, the new president will be announced to the school community, and steps will be made for them to be prepared for the position in the coming years.
Candidates Bring Skutt Catholic Backgrounds to Presidential Search
Two candidates, already fixtures at Skutt Catholic, stand ready to rise in rank.
In the search to fill the position, two candidates with already-familiar faces were announced as finalists in late January: Interim President and Admissions Director Tim Bloomingdale and Activities Director Jeremy Moore. This week, the Flightline conversed with each of them in an effort to learn more about their backgrounds and vision for the school going forward.
Tell us about yourself, and what your current role is at Skutt Catholic.
Bloomingdale: I was born and raised in Omaha, NE. I come from a large family of 10 children. I have been married for 27 years. My interests include spending time with my family, old movies, U.S. history, and prayer.
I have two children who graduated from Skutt Catholic High School, Joe (class of ‘14) and Sarah (class of ‘16). My son Sam is currently a freshman here and my daughter Lucy is a 6th grader. I have been the Director of Admissions since 2011. This year I am also serving as the Interim President.
Moore: I am originally from Grand Island, Nebraska. I student taught at Grand Island Central Catholic and they offered me my first teaching job. After three and a half years serving students at GICC, I took a job at Skutt Catholic as the school’s strength coach, while also coaching football, wrestling and track.
I have since been at Skutt Catholic for thirteen years. I have served as a coach, teacher, assistant activities director and the activities director. I have two children, Tyler, who is four, and Sydney, who is three. I enjoy the outdoors, cycling, and working out. I’m a hard worker, motivated, and my faith and family are very important to me.
Tell us about the overall vision you have for Skutt Catholic. What values would you consider most important to emphasize or bring attention to as president?
Bloomingdale: My vision is to continue the excellent tradition of academics, activities and Catholic identity that we have. I would consider the opportunities we offer for spiritual growth to be one of the most important areas to promote or bring attention to. Our theology course offerings, our service opportunities, our focus on prayer, the importance of the Mass and the focus on Christian development set us apart.
I believe we have a community here that is like family. The involvement of that community, be it staff, students, parents or alumni, in all aspects of the school is vital to our success. We need make sure that we always strive to improve our educational environment to attract and retain good teachers and staff as well as good students.
Moore: As next year is the school’s twenty-fifth anniversary, I believe Skutt Catholic is destined for even greater things in the next twenty-five years. I see our school advancing in many educational areas, as well as our physical building growing. I believe our Catholic identity will continue to positively distinguish us from other schools, and will be a primary reason for our continued success. Our students are the magic here at Skutt Catholic, and we need to keep challenging them so that we can continue to excel in both academics and athletics.
If selected, what would your first significant project or change be?
Bloomingdale: One of the challenges we face, as do many other Catholic schools in our area, is the rising cost of tuition. We believe that the investment families make is well worth it, but it is becoming harder for many to access the wonderful opportunities we offer for educational and spiritual growth. It would be important for me to assist our advancement department to build upon the wonderful donor base that we have. This would help us to keep the cost of tuition down, and provide the necessary financial aid that many of our families need.
Moore: The first priority would be to make sure we are taking care of what we have. This includes making sure the current building is run in an efficient manner as well as that tuition is at the most affordable rate it can be. From there, I believe we would be looking at an entrance and fine arts addition as well as a few more classrooms to help with increased enrollment demands. This would be done in a form of a capital campaign.
How would you describe the ideal everyday relationship you, as president, would hope to share with the students of Skutt Catholic? The staff?
Bloomingdale: I think it is important for all of us, administrators and teachers, to get to know our students in and out of the classroom. I want see our students in action, whether it’s a volleyball match, a choir performance or a mock trial event. I also think it is important for me to be involved in the service trips that take place. I think by showing an interest in all aspects of our students’ high school careers, we can build trust with students, which in turn builds on the idea of family that I mentioned.
My relationship with the staff would be, and I think is, similar. I am a big believer in the concept of servant leadership. I can only be successful as a servant leader if I get to know those that I lead. It is important to be with them in the classrooms, in the teacher lunchroom and in the halls. By showing an interest in them and their lives inside and outside the building, it builds trust and establishes open communication.
Moore: I would hope to continue to develop relationships with all students through continuing to support them in all of their educational and extracurricular activities. Having an open door policy to allow students to feel comfortable coming in and expressing their ideas about the school is an important part of what I would do as president. Staff relationships would be important to foster in a way that would enhance their natural curiosity as educators. We would need to be a unified staff that can share ideas, demand excellence from one another and the students, and also share laughter and joys together.
These interviews have been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.