Southern Catholic Announces New President
I am not really sure anymore how to talk about the way that news spreads at Southern Catholic College. I want to say that the college announced its new president yesterday… but there was no announcement, only an invitation to meet him over coffee.
The few students who were still in the Atlanta area received emails a few days ago inviting them to meet with some of the school’s new leaders so that they (the students) might offer their suggestions and insights into the way in which the school’s mode of leadership could be improved. This genuinely sounded like an excellent opportunity for the students to voice some of their concerns about the damage done to the school over the past four years, and promised to offer an opportunity for the new Legionary leaders to learn from the school’s past mistakes as they have been observed from the students’ perspective. When all of the students arrived on Tuesday morning for the meeting, they were given the news that a surprise guest would be arriving shortly; and that guest would be none other than the school’s new president, Fr. Shawn Aaron. This was the first that any of those gathered had heard of the new president, and seems to be the only way in which the announcement has been made so far: to a clump of students in a Starbucks.1
The meeting was uneventful and little was said. A few students made suggestions about the ways in which the school could improve and then the topic quickly turned to the practical elements of advertising. For the remainder of the meeting, students were asked for their reactions to a handful of promotional materials and slogans, and then Fr. Aaron closed with a prayer.
Although this intense focus on the business aspect of Southern Catholic’s new advertising department did cost the students their opportunity to express all of their worries over the negative turns that the school has taken over the course of its four years, it also afforded those present a unique glimpse into the character of the college’s new leadership. Particularly, it became clear that they want to be very careful not to step on any toes. As one example of this attitude, Integer members responsible for Southern Catholic’s advertising repeatedly made the point that they don’t want to be too strong in their use of Catholic themes in advertising media for the fear of scaring off people who might not be attracted by strong Catholicism. For instance, the phrase “Live Catholic” seems to be replacing the school’s old tagline “Prepare For An Extraordinary Life,” which actually seems to constitute an improvement as far as portraying ourselves as a Catholic school is concerned, but is still a bit vague.
Not much can be said for the particular way in which Fr. Aaron will lead the school, simply for the fact that he said very little in the meeting and there is virtually no information available about him on the internet (except for this biographical video). His willingness to meet with students and hear their concerns, however, seems to suggest that he is open to learning from the school’s many past mistakes. Hopefully, this willingness will continue.
Fr. Aaron is scheduled to become a permanent fixture around campus on the 12th of August, and will be assuming his office very soon thereafter.
1 The announcement was also made a few hours later before many members of the faculty and staff; still, the degree of informality remains the same.