By Sue Botos
After serving six years as president of Magnificat High School, Sister Carol Anne Smith, H.M., has announced that this will be her last year at the school’s helm. Smith informed Magnificat faculty and staff in an address on Nov. 20.
In her statement, Smith recalled the mission of the school, “recognizing God’s call in our lives and responding.” As a leader, she stated, it was important to continually evaluate the organization strategically in light of this mission, while always looking down the road to the future.
Smith continued that Magnificat is “at a pinnacle in the school’s history and development,” citing several indicators:
• the mission fully pervading the program and environment;
• having vibrant, purposeful students, actively engaged parents and an expert, committed board of directors;
• an experienced and respected leadership team;
• a powerful academic program with colleges and universities actively seeking (Magnificat) graduates;
• expansion of partnerships with external organizations;
• capacity enrollment as the largest all-girls’ high school in Ohio;
• strong fiscal position and forecast with endowment at a respectable $12 million;
• 2009-2013 strategic plan essentially implemented; and
• a capital campaign reaching its first milestone – the halfway mark in one year – with all structures and boards in place to complete it.
“From my perspective as a leader, the time is now, at this point of strength and recognized accomplishment, to look beyond this strategic plan, beyond this continuing capital campaign and beyond this president to the next era of Magnificat’s faithfulness in fulfilling its mission and to ongoing measurable greatness in educating young women of faith,” Smith remarked.
She added that as her tenure draws to a close, the school’s board of directors will search for a replacement who will “bring new skills and new vision to a new time.” Smith said she would do “all possible” to assist the board in making its selection, and in the “smoothest of transitions.”
Smith has spent a total of 22 years at Magnificat, 16 of those as a teacher and administrator, including seven years as principal. During this time the school received certification as a college preparatory school, established its first advisory board (now the board of directors), underwent its first capital campaign and received the U.S. Department of Education’s Blue Ribbon Award the first year the honor was given.
Smith went on to serve as superintendent of the Diocese of Cleveland Catholic Schools and executive director of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland Foundation. From 1985 to 1992, she served concurrently on the leadership council of her religious congregation, the Sisters of the Humility of Mary. In 1992, Bishop Anthony Pilla appointed her secretary for education of the diocese, overseeing the sixth largest system of private schools in the United States. She returned to Magnificat in 2007 to take the position of president.
Smith has held a variety of leadership and administrative positions. She has just stepped down as chairwoman of the board of directors of Mercy Regional Health Center in Lorain County, where she received its Sisters of the Humility of Mary Mission Leadership Award. She also serves on the board of trustees of St. Edward High School and has served as a member of the National Catholic Education Association Research Board.
According to board of directors Chairman P. Kelly Tompkins, the search for Smith’s successor will begin immediately.
“It has been an extraordinary privilege to work side by side with Sister Carol Anne,” Tompkins stated. “We are blessed with the fruits of her leadership, especially the dedicated and talented Senior Leadership Team that so capably leads every day. And we have a committed and engaged board that will collectively ensure our school continues to move forword during this period of leadership transition.
“Looking ahead, I am confident the search committee will find a compelling successor. Our school is well-positioned to attract a leader that will not only uphold Magnificat’s mission, but will likewise sustain the momentum and progress that is so evident to our students, parents, faculty, alumnae and community of supporters from across the country,” added Tompkins, who is executive vice president of legal, government affairs and sustainability of Cliffs Natural Resources of Cleveland.
Although she is stepping down as president, Smith stated, “I am definitely not retiring!” She added, “I am greatly blessed with health and energy, and I will do as I have always done, that is, to seek to recognize God’s next call to me.” Her order is involved in many different ministries, according to Smith. “I trust I will know, as I have always in the past, where I am meant to serve next.” For the present, Smith plans to put her “full effort” behind the work to be done at Magnificat.