Trustees of St. Mary's Ryken High School named a new president yesterday to succeed Harry L. Swaney, who is retiring in June.
The Rev. Paul S. Tipton, a former university president who once worked in the White House, will take over for Swaney effective July 1. Swaney spent 15 years at Ryken, first as principal and the last seven years as president.
Tipton will be responsible for the physical buildings and for raising money to make improvements to the school, located near Breton Bay on the southern edge of Leonardtown. The principal, currently Mary Joy Hurlburt, manages day-to-day education issues at the 600-student, coed Catholic high school.
"We are delighted to have Father Tipton as president-elect," said Board of Trustees Chairman Maurice "Butch" Long, noting the new president's decades of experience as a university leader and with the Jesuit order.
Tipton, 63, said he was "excited" to be working again in a high school setting, something he has not done since he left a high school teaching job in 1968.
"I was looking for another challenge in a different way, something hands-on," said Tipton, who moved to Lusby last month from Capitol Hill. "This sounded like the right thing and the right opportunity."
The appointment, which caps a nationwide search, was made public yesterday in a ceremony at the school.
Tipton, an Alabama native who has alternated between Washington and the South most of his life, attended Georgetown Prep and returned several times to work on Capitol Hill and to lead the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.
He was appointed by President Clinton as a counselor to the secretary of labor and worked for the Bush administration as senior adviser in the Labor Department.
In Swaney's tenure, the only Catholic high school in Southern Maryland has grown in enrollment, renovated and expanded its facilities, and instituted a capital campaign. The annual campaign directed at alumni and other donors has raised more than $4 million so far.
Tipton said he plans to build on that effort, as well as increase the level of awareness of the school within the community, and oversee the proposed construction of a new gymnasium.
"The profile of the institution as a premier college preparatory institution needs to be raised in Southern Maryland so it's recognized not just as a parochial school but as a serious college preparatory institution," Tipton said.
Tipton intends to live up to the school's motto Porrigamus, "Let Us Reach Out." He said he wants the school to engage the community through issues and programs. "I see potential for having a lecture series," he said as one example.
Swaney, 63, said he is happy to pass the torch. "After 15 years, I just felt it was time to step down. I think I've accomplished what I set out to do."