Leaders at two Catholic schools to leave

Loyola Blakefield and Notre Dame Prep heads to step down at end of year

September 17, 2004|By Sara Neufeld | Sara Neufeld,SUN STAFF

The heads of Loyola Blakefield and Notre Dame prep schools in Towson will step down at the end of this school year, the schools have announced.

The Rev. Jack Dennis has served as president of Loyola Blakefield since 1998. Sister Christine Mulcahy will step down after eight years as headmistress of Notre Dame Preparatory School.

Loyola Blakefield is a Jesuit school with an enrollment of about 970 boys. Notre Dame Prep, also a Roman Catholic school, has about 700 girls. Both serve grades six through 12.

Dennis, 51, graduated from Loyola Blakefield in 1971. He returned from 1992 to 1996 to direct the school's Christian service program and teach religious studies and mathematics.

As president, he has overseen the construction of a building housing fitness centers, a student commons and a bookstore, as well as new science laboratories. But he said he is proudest of the work the school has done to develop boys' characters through campus ministry, Christian service and Ignatian identity programs.

"We graduate these wonderful young men," he said. "Their eyes have been opened up educationally, but we measure success with our service work. ... By the time they graduate, they're just asking the right questions about `Who am I? Where does God fit into my life? What is my responsibility to the community?'"

Donald G. McClure, president of the school's board of trustees, said in a statement that Loyola Blakefield has "benefited greatly from his passion for excellence in and out of the classroom. Father Jack has been a key force in providing enhancements to academic excellence, student life and the Ignatian spirit, which remains our core value."

In his final year at Loyola Blakefield, Dennis said he would like to strengthen the school's endowment and therefore its ability to provide financial aid and make it accessible to boys from lower-income families. Current tuition and fees are $11,400 a year.

Mulcahy, who through a school spokeswoman declined to give her age, has worked in education for a half-century. She has taught math and business and served as principal of St. Mary's High School in Annapolis.

The school credits her with implementing a wireless laptop program in the upper grades, adding several Advanced Placement courses and upgrading science labs. She increased the school's endowment by 25 percent, to $5 million.

In 2000, she oversaw the construction of a new classroom wing, performing arts center and six playing fields.

In an interview, Mulcahy said this is a natural turning point for her. The school has been working for two years to have its accreditation renewed, something that is expected to happen in November. In January, the school is scheduled to open a new sports and fitness center. It is also completing a capital campaign.

With all those major projects completed, Mulcahy said, "I think it's a nice way for a new headmistress to walk in."

Michael Constantine, vice chairman of the school's board of trustees, said he is one of many who will miss Mulcahy. "She's just been wonderful," he said. "She's done so much with the curriculum and the facility."

Neither Dennis nor Mulcahy has announced plans beyond this school year.

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