Bishop names first alumna as president at Nolan Catholic High

06/23/2014 5:59 PM

06/23/2014 6:00 PM

For the first time in Nolan Catholic High School’s 53-year history, the coed school will be led by a female graduate.

Fort Worth Bishop Michael F. Olson recently named Erin Vader president at the diocese’s 1,000-student school after a change in leadership prompted a national search.

Vader will start on July 1, ushering in an era of firsts. She is the first Nolan graduate to lead the school; she is the school’s first female president; and she is the first local Catholic educator to serve as president.

The school runs on a president/principal model in which the president oversees business matters and the religious side of the school, and the principal focuses on academics.

Vader will be responsible for Nolan’s Catholic identity, strategic planning and community relations.

“I’m very cognizant of the responsibility that is on my shoulders,” Vader said. “I want to do the best job that I can for all the Catholic teachers, educators and families that I have worked with over the years.”

Vader, a second-generation Nolan Catholic graduate, will replace the Rev. Richard Villa, who leaves the school on June 30 in a change of leadership.

Nolan had been operated by the Society of Mary, or the Marianists, since it opened in 1961. Now, however, the order is consolidating its resources at Marianist-owned schools, school officials said. The Fort Worth Roman Catholic Diocese, which has owned Nolan since it opened, will take over leadership.

“Beginning on July 1, I plan on doing a lot of listening first,” Vader said. “It’s a big transition with the Marianists leaving, and my job is make sure I learn as much as I can to track the path forward as a diocesan school that is providing a secondary education to every child that wants one.”

Vader, who has taught in the diocesan school system for 18 years, is now principal at Our Mother of Mercy in east Fort Worth.

She has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Texas at Arlington and a master’s in education from Texas Wesleyan University.

She is expected to receive a doctorate in educational leadership from Wesleyan in May.

“Erin has significant experience. She is by no means a rookie of any kind in the leadership world,” said Carlos Martinez, dean of the School of Education at Wesleyan.

Martinez said Vader’s years of experience in the private school system and her educational expertise from Wesleyan will “enable her to run an organization as complex as Nolan.”

“She is one of our more deserving students,” he said.

“Ms. Vader is the right person to build on and expand Nolan Catholic’s traditions of evangelization, academic excellence and service to the community,” Olson said in a statement.

Olson named Benedict V. Reyes as interim principal less than a month ago.

This report includes material from Star-Telegram archives.

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