Back to School 2015

The Directors: One Key To Academy Success

Brother-Ralph-Darmento-Headshot_cmykBy Brother Ralph Darmento, F.S.C.

On Sept. 1, continuing the direction of Preserving the Vision, the diocesan strategic plan for Catholic education, 57 academies within this governance paradigm will open their doors for the new academic year. Many factors have contributed to the success of these academies that sees 15 brand new academies joining the 42 already established educational communities.

Heroic leaders, pastoral support and presence, dedicated and credentialed faculty, motivated parents, the alumni/alumnae of the legacy schools and, of course, the students themselves have contributed to the success of the academies.

 Two-tier Board Structure

Each academy is governed by a two-tier board structure, the Board of Members and the Board of Directors. The Board of Members consists of diocesan and local pastoral leaders; the Board of Directors, the governing body for each academy, is comprised of lay leaders. At last count, nearly 400 men and women have been entrusted with the fiduciary responsibility for the governance of the Catholic academies. Fiduciary responsibility requires a director to act with good faith and care, to be a faithful and faith-filled steward of the community, to demonstrate loyalty to the academy and to be in accord with its vision and mission.

While the Board of Directors acts as a unified group, the fiduciary responsibilities fall upon individual directors. Each has a personal responsibility to ensure “that he or she is up to the task,” and capable of fulfilling the role of director. This means each director participates in monthly board meetings, reviews all board and committee reports, upholds confidentiality, makes decisions in accord with the mission of the academy, and complies with canonical, civil and ethical requirements.

The sustainability of the academy and the education and formation of the young people entrusted to our care requires nothing less.

Community Members

So who are the directors? Lawyers and bankers, educators and social workers, medical professionals and entrepreneurs, executives and media specialists, librarians and realtors, financial planners and administrators, homemakers and retirees, religious men and women, community representatives and elected officials; women and men with a deep and abiding belief in Catholic education, one which continues to this day “to touch the hearts, nurture the souls, kindle the minds and inspire the lives of the young people entrusted to their care.”

In embracing the role of director each person must ascribe to three duties (Carver, 1990; Chait 1993) which are established by law and are received as well-accepted principles of good governance: the duty of care, the duty of loyalty and the duty of authenticity. The duty of care requires the director to be thoroughly familiar with all aspects of the individual academy, to exercise prudence and good judgment in decision making, to ensure that the academy has written policies and internal controls. The duty of loyalty ensures that the director examines transactions to ensure there is no conflict of interest, and that he/she honors confidentiality.

The duty of authenticity, often referred to as the duty of obedience, ensures that resources are dedicated to accomplishing the mission, and that the academy complies with all reporting laws as required.

As the new academic year begins, it is an appropriate time to express publicly the appreciation and gratitude of the diocesan community to one of the most important components of the success of our Catholic academies, the directors leading and governing each community.

Their commitment and dedication are without equal; their vision without bound; and their appreciation for the countless giants who have served our legacy schools can be witnessed through the time and talent they expend on behalf of our children, our future.

If you are interested in serving as an academy director, please send an email to Brother Ralph Darmento at

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