Dominic Massa / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS – Following a school year that saw its president ousted amid outcry from alumni, parents and students, St. Augustine High School has named its first female president.
Dr. Karen S. Collins will be the school’s fourth president and chief executive officer, the school announced. In addition to the being the first female president, she is also the first layperson to hold the post.
“I am grateful that the St. Augustine Board of Directors considered gender to be but one factor in their assessment of the best qualified person,” she said in a statement.
Collins replaces Father John Raphael, who was transferred to Baltimore this time last year. His transfer followed a very public battle with the Archdiocese of New Orleans, over Raphael’s support for St. Augustine’s longtime history of corporal punishment.
Collins has spent many years in education, working as a school administrator in New Orleans, Mississippi and recently in St Louis.
“It is an honor to be selected as the fourth president in the history of St Augustine High School,” Collins said in a statement. “My pledge is to uphold tradition and forge forward with raising the bar of academic excellence.”
The schools board of directors appointed Dr. Collins after a nationwide search, with the assistance of a presidential selection committee and the approval of the Josephite Board of Trustees, representing the order of priests which runs the school.
Collins’ career includes a stint as the director of teaching and learning in the Wellston School District in Missouri, as well as principal of McClure South Berkeley High School in the Ferguson-Florissant School District. She also served as adjunct instructor in the Special Education Department at the University of Missouri, and Assistant Professor at Harris-Stowe State University.
She was the principal in New Orleans at Frances Gaudet Elementary prior to Hurricane Katrina and principal of Sarah T. Reed Senior High School after the storm.
Married with one daughter, Collins has a Doctorate Degree in Special Education and Educational Leadership, a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership, a Master’s Degree in Special Education and a B.A. in Elementary Education and Special Education.
Collins will be introduced to the school at a ceremony Wednesday morning.