This summer, St. Mary’s has seen more than half a dozen faculty and administration leave the school, most notably former President Maggie O’Brien. In response, a wave of new people has swept in to St. Mary’s on the heels of President Joseph Urgo.
One high-ranking school official who left office was the veteran head of St. Mary’s Marketing and Public Relations, Marc Apter. Apter, who had been with the school since 1999, left in June. He is president of his own startup consultancy, Image Power, and is looking for work in the greater Washington, D.C. area.
Apter has not been replaced yet. In fact, the duties of the entire Public Relations department – an office of three to four who wrote press releases and promoted the school’s image – have been absorbed into the duties of the Office of Publications and Media Relations, the same college department which publishes the Mulberry Tree and River Gazette.
Katie Lanham, who worked under Apter and left the school soon after he did, said she was surprised when she heard that he had left. However, she said that the College could do away with its public relations department altogether, given the size of St Mary’s.
“Under the conditions today, I don’t think [having a PR Office] is vital.” But Lanham said she thought Apter’s departure was related to O’Brien’s. “If Maggie were still here… yeah, he would still be here.” Lanham is now working in Lexington Park as an Editing Specialist for SAIC, a government contractor.
There have been other offices with turnover in their leadership. Tim Wolfe, head of the Financial Aid department, left in June to be Director of Financial Aid at the University of Nevada at Reno. Replacing him is Caroline Bright, formerly Associate Director of Financial Aid at Johns Hopkins School of Health.
She said Johns Hopkins’ offices are very bureaucratic, and that she feels she has come into a well-run office. “I hope any changes would just be streamlining.”
Bright said it was definitely a change to begin working at St. Mary’s from John’s Hopkins. “When I looked at the map before I came here, I just thought this is crazy… but I love the campus. I think it’s a great time to be here with the new president.”
Another school official to leave this past summer is Christophe Bornand, former Project Manager and Facilities Planner for the Office of Planning and Facilities. Bornand moved back to Los Angeles to be with his family.
“He did a wonderful job. We miss him dearly,” said Charles Jackson, Associate Vice President of Planning and Facilities. “I guess he got homesick.” Jackson said he had lots of confidence in Bornand’s successor, Luke Mowbray. “He’s going to be terrific.”
St. Mary’s also has a new police chief in town. Christopher Santiago, who formerly served as the Assistant Director of Campus Safety for Keene State College in New Hampshire since 2003. Formerly, the duties of the Director of Public Safety were handled by Derek Thornton as part of his job as Assistant Vice President of Campus Operations.
One academic department, the Philosophy and Religious Studies department, lost two professors to teach at other universities. Kate Norlock will teach Philosophy at Trent University, a public liberal arts college in Peterborough, Ontario; Devorah Schoenfeld will teach Religious Studies at Loyola University in Chicago, IL. They have been replaced by Rochele Greene and Brien Ogren, respectively.
Department Chair of Religious Studies Bjorn Krondorfer said, “The college does not pay competitive salaries for professors, unfortunately.”
There is a palpable feeling of change among those who officiate and constitute St. Mary’s. Dean of Students Laura Bayless described the school as being in a state of flow. “It’s exciting! I have a lot of hope for the future here.”