Holy Cross Father Anthony J. DeConciliis, who was installed as president of Our Lady of Holy Cross College three days before Hurricane Katrina in 2005, stepped down from his position Aug. 15 in a restructuring of the college that also included the reconstitution of the school’s board of regents by the Marianites of Holy Cross.
No explanation was given for the actions. Sister Suellen Tennyson, provincial of the Marianites, issued a press release that announced the formation of a new board of regents and the selection of Dr. Myles Seghers, a veteran New Orleans Catholic educator who has served in various capacities at OLHCC since 1998, as interim president, and Dr. Patricia Prechter as interim provost.
“Other than this, I really will not discuss the affairs of the corporation,” Sister Suellen said in an e-mail to the Clarion Herald. “Sometime in the future, after these changes settle, it would then be appropriate to share direction, plans, etc. The main thing right now is to be prepared to welcome the students on August 27.”
Father DeConciliis was unavailable for comment.
Longtime Catholic educator
Seghers, who has worked in Catholic education in the greater New Orleans area for more than 40 years, said he was excited about serving as interim president and working with Prechter as the college’s new provost. Prechter will serve as the chief academic officer of the college and as second in command to Seghers.
Seghers, 61, said he wanted students to know “that the college is in good hands with two people who are familiar with the administration of the college and who are dedicated to the mission of the Marianites and their success in meeting the needs of the students.”
“I would certainly want students to know they have nothing to be concerned about,” Seghers said. “We really believe we’ll be able to attract an exceptionally qualified candidate for the position (of president). We’ve always had a high level of interest from people wanting to come here as president of a Catholic college, and we think we’ll continue to draw interest in that regard.
“I really believe whoever becomes the new president down the road is going to be very well qualified, very talented,” Seghers added. “I think students will see a very, very smooth transition.”
Seghers said the board of regents is being reconstituted and will begin a search for a permanent president. The Marianites Corporation Board will select the new president.
Seghers said he would be permitted to apply for the position, but he said “that’s not my intention at this point.”
“But I wasn’t told, ‘This is just an interim position and we don’t want you to move forward,’” Seghers said. “It’s not something that I’m really considering right now. Before this happened, I was thinking that this would be my last year at the college, that I would retire from the college. Whether I moved on to something else or not, I was thinking this would be my last year. I’m still thinking in that way. We’ll just see.”
Seghers said Father De- Conciliis left the college in “pretty firm” financial shape.
“The endowment has increased and the college isn’t in any debt,” Seghers said. “They have been operating that way all the way back when Father (Thomas) Chambers was president. That’s unusual for a higher ed institution not to have any indebtedness, and Father Anthony continued that. It’s a good foundation.”
Seghers said enrollment for the 2011-12 academic year was at 1,100, about 100 below last year’s enrollment. But he expects to pick up additional students before school opens.
Peter Finney Jr. can be reached at email@example.com