Current President of St. Augustine Prep in New Jersey will begin role at Malvern on July 1.
On November 29, Malvern named Fr. Donald Reilly, O.S.A. as the next Head of School. Fr. Reilly will replace current Head of School Mr. Christian Talbot, who will step down in summer 2017.
Fr. Reilly is currently the President and CEO of St. Augustine Prep in New Jersey. He previously served as an Augustinian Provincial and co-founded Siloam Ministries, a Philadelphia organization that helps to raise awareness and support people with HIV/AIDS.
According to Chairman of the Board of Trustees Mr. Stephen Cloetingh, the Board wanted the next head of school to be a seasoned executive who believes in the academic direction of student-centered learning and who embraces Augustinian values.
“Right now, we were looking for that stabilizing, mature force to take the school and move it to the next level,” Cloetingh said. “We couldn’t have been more fortunate. It really worked out well.”
At a morning meeting on Tuesday to announce the appointment to the Malvern faculty, Cloetingh thanked Head of the Search Committee Mr. John McGlinn, Human Resources Director Neha Morrison, the Board of Trustees, and faculty and staff groups that provided their input in the process. Cloetingh also thanked the Augustinian Province for allowing Fr. Reilly to leave St. Augustine Prep and come to Malvern.
“At St. Augustine Prep, the [Augustinian] Province owns the school, so they could just appoint someone,” Cloetingh said. At Malvern, an independent school, the Board of Trustees elects the Head of School.
In a statement published Tuesday on the website of St. Augustine Prep, Prior Provincial Fr. Michael F. DiGregorio, O.S.A. named Fr. Robert J. Murray, O.S.A., Ph.D as the new president of St. Augustine Prep.
This statement also noted that Fr. Reilly was unanimously elected Head of School by the Board of Trustees at Malvern Preparatory School on Tuesday, Nov. 22.
Cloetingh said that Malvern has a master campus plan and is constantly looking to expand. He noted that St. Augustine Prep is currently building two buildings, and said that Fr. Reilly had a significant role in their fundraising process.
Cloetingh said Talbot will help ease the transition process before Fr. Reilly starts on July 1. Talbot served as an adviser during the selection process and said he is pleased with the results.
“I can’t think of a better person, or a person who is better equipped to carry on,” Talbot said. “Beyond that, from a personal standpoint, beyond being a great priest and a great leader, he’s very personally committed to the connection between student-centered learning and innovations around that and Augustinian education. And he’s also very committed to diversity inclusion as part of the culture.”
According to the Malvern website, ten student representatives participated in a survey for the Head of School search.
One of those representatives was eighth grader Sam Bevevino, who is pleased with the selection of Fr. Reilly.
“We’re lucky to have him here,” Bevevino said. “He’s done great things for St. Augustine Prep. I’m excited to see what he’ll bring to Malvern next year.”
Junior Pat Sayers has a personal connection to Fr. Reilly. “I think it’s going to be very interesting with Fr. Don Reilly as Head of School, because he baptized me and gave me my First Communion,” he said. “I just think he’s a great guy.”
Other students were surprised and confused by the announcement. A previous posting to the Malvern website and this publication’s October story indicated the search committee was focused on internal candidates.
Although Fr. Reilly is not a current Malvern staff member, he has been on the Board of Trustees for eight years.
“I guess I was kind of confused at first because I didn’t recognize the name,” senior Mike Sheridan said. “I was under the assumption that the next head of school was going to be someone already employed at Malvern.”
“”He seems like a great leader and great man of faith and I look forward to, even after I graduate, seeing what he brings to Malvern.” -Ryan Franks ’17
“”He seems like a great leader and great man of faith and I look forward to, even after I graduate, seeing what he brings to Malvern.”
-Ryan Franks ’17
Senior Ryan Franks echoed this confusion. “When I heard that the board was focusing their search internally, I was trying to figure out who from Malvern would be in the running,” Franks said. “When I heard a name that I didn’t recognize I was confused.”
However, both Franks and Sheridan are optimistic.
“I remembered back at graduation last year when I heard him give the powerful speech about love and the Augustinian life we are called to live,” Franks said. “He seems like a great leader and great man of faith and I look forward to, even after I graduate, seeing what he brings to Malvern.”
“I’m sure Fr. Don will do great things for the school, especially with how highly he is regarded at St. Augustine and by Mr. Talbot,” Sheridan said.
Some underclassmen are thinking ahead to possible changes for the school.
“The joy of me coming here is because Augustine, while he was a teacher, was forever a student. I have new things to learn in your midst.”
“It will definitely be different,” freshman Jake Kroger said. “It might be a little more strict. I would like him to keep the dress code a little informal like it is now.”
“I have had Talbot since sixth grade, but it will be good to have a more Catholic foundation for the school,” Kroger said.
During community time on Wednesday, Talbot introduced Fr. Reilly to the student body. Fr. Reilly then spoke with the students about his experience at St. Augustine Prep, and his hopes for the new role.
“The joy of me coming here is because Augustine, while he was a teacher, was forever a student,” Fr. Reilly said. “I have new things to learn in your midst.”
“In a very real way,” he said, “the teacher within you is going to instruct the teacher within me.”
Tyler Pizzico ’17, Pat Ferraiolo ’17, Nick Li ’17, Daniel Malloy ’18, Henry Malone ’17, and Brian Szipszky ’20 contributed to the reporting on this story.