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Renke: Best part of job as president ‘the mission,’ being with students

Photo by Andrew Brown ’18 | Brophy interim President Ms. Adria Renke connects with seniors at a pizza date.

By Anthony Cardellini ’17
THE ROUNDUP

Although Ms. Adria Renke said that she greatly enjoys her new position as Brophy’s president, she never expected to have a job like this.

“I never sought this job,” she said. “I never thought about working at Brophy.”

She said she was working as a private tutor, author and columnist on education when she met the Rev. Edward Reese, S.J., with whom she served alongside as vice president for 19 years.

When Fr. Reese became the new president of St. Ignatius College Preparatory in San Francisco this summer, the board of trustees asked Ms. Renke to serve as interim president for one year while a national search is conducted to find the future president of the school.

Ms. Renke said that while she would love to have the job permanently and has applied for it, she accepts the decision to complete a nation-wide search.

“A national search is the best practice,” she said. “The trustees owe it to the school to look at all the possible candidates to lead the school.”

Ms. Renke said that regardless of the decision the board makes, she is grateful to have held the job for at least a year.

“For a year, if that’s all that it is, I’m going to have fun, and I’m going to love every minute and I’m going to take it all in,” she said.

She said that she is particularly lucky to have worked alongside Fr. Reese for so many years.

“For 19 years I was mentored by an incredible president who really gave me full reign to work beside him,” she said.

Ms. Renke also mentioned that she doesn’t plan any major changes for this year as president.

“My main goal is to keep it going here,” she said. “Father and Mr. Bob Ryan as a team have always pushed the frontiers here, and that is number one in my mind. But as the interim president, I think now we maintain, we look on the horizon to see what’s coming up should I get it, so there won’t be any major changes this year.”

She said that her favorite parts of the job are the mission she gets to serve and the students that surround her each day. She also said she enjoys the variety of discussions she gets to participate in, ranging from financial to curricular topics.

Ms. Renke is the first female to be the president of a Jesuit high school in the United States. She said that gender does not play a large part in her role.

“I’m pretty gender-blind,” she said. “In most of the meetings I’ve been in in the last 20 years, I’m the only female, the only lay person … but I am among giant thinkers that are open. That is a shocking blessing.”

She said she is not nervous about her first year at the position because of the people surrounding here.

Principal Mr. Bob Ryan, whom Ms. Renke called “the best principal in the country,” said working with Ms. Renke has been both enjoyable and empowering.

“​It is a privilege to work with Ms. Renke,” Mr. Ryan said in an email to The Roundup. “I’ve worked closely with her the entire time I’ve been principal and so am lucky to have a solid foundation of relationship upon which to build. I’ve always admired her genuine love for young people, her commitment to prayer and Ignatian spirituality, and her relentless energy and determination.”

He also said that her personality and character has inspired him not only as a principal but also in his personal life.

“Before Ms. Renke is president of Brophy, she is a mother and grandmother and so this perspective has been really helpful for me,” he said. “She understands the trials and tribulations that people endure and this has helped me not only as a principal but as a husband, father, friend and colleague.”

He said that she “helps ensure I maintain a sense of humor and enjoy what I’m doing every day.”

He said he will not play a large role in deciding if Ms. Renke will continue being president after this year, but he said he is glad she was chosen as the interim president.