Search for Catholic schools superintendent moves ahead

| January 17, 2013 | 0 Comments

The search committee charged with finding a new superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is currently seeking candidates for the position and hopes to conduct initial interviews sometime in the spring, said committee chair Barbara Shaw.

Shaw, executive vice president and director of corporate human resources at TCF Bank, said the goal is to have a new superintendent in place by the start of the new school year in the fall.

The committee — composed of Catholic school principals, pastors, members of the Archdiocesan Catholic Schools Advisory Council and other educators — is working with the national search firm Russell Reynolds Associates to find a successor to Marty Frauenheim, the former superintendent who retired last October after serving in the position for four years.

Gathering information

The search committee has received input for the search from Archbishop John Nienstedt and Father Peter Laird, the archdiocese’s vicar general. Also, late last year, the committee sponsored several listening sessions for Catholic school leaders, pastors, parents and other Catholic school stakeholders to offer input about “what [they] wanted from a superintendent of schools,” said Shaw, a member of Holy Name of Jesus in Medina.

“I think everyone who participated in the listening sessions was familiar with the archdiocese’s strategic plan [launched in 2010] and how the archdiocese wants to strengthen Catholic schools,” she said. “They believe this very pivotal role has to be the one to lead that vision, gain collaboration . . . and communicate the vision at all levels.”

A given, Shaw added, is that the person would be a very strong, actively practicing Catholic.

As the committee considered the input it received and created the position description, it was clear that the successful candidate would also have a “record of strong and strategic leadership skills,” demonstrate strong relationship-building skills, and be able to “think outside the box” and “be on the forefront of Catholic education and bringing new ideas that can be implemented as part of the strategic plan.”

“We want to bring in someone who has that level of entrepreneurial skills and innovation and can build upon what we’ve already done, but then make their own mark to make it better,” Shaw said.

Meeting today’s challenges

Father Laird said the goal is “to build upon the good work of our previous superintendent and then the [former] Catholic Schools Commission and the work ACSAC is doing because Catholic education is at a crossroads.’’

“We need to align Catholic education with the realities that are before us,” he said. “What’s the value of Catholic education? How do we decrease the cost of Catholic education so as to bring greater access, and how do we work with public-private partnerships to grow Catholic education?”

Ultimately, he added, “Catholic education is about children.”

“It’s not about buildings,” he said. “It’s not about protecting the way we’ve always done things. Just as the archbishop reminded us in the strategic plan, the archdiocese is about relationships; it’s not about bricks and mortar. It’s the same with Catholic education — it’s about providing access to children to certainly have excellent curriculum. . . . But it’s also about sharing with them throughout the whole day the beauty of their Catholic faith and Christian discipleship.”

Shaw said the search committee plans to keep stakeholders informed throughout the process. For more information and updates, go to and click on “news & events.”

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