Official sources from St. John’s College have confirmed to Amandala that former National Security Minister Jorge Espat has decided not to renew his three-year appointment as president of St. John’s College, but our sources say that he will remain at the college as an economics lecturer. Espat will be replaced by veteran educator Andrew Lopez, effective Monday, June 16.
In a press release issued today, SCJ announced that, “The board of trustees expresses its profound gratitude to Mr. Espat for his service to his dear alma mater and is confident that Mr. Lopez will continue to lead St. John’s College into the future as a vibrant Belizean Catholic Jesuit educational institution.”
Lopez is the president designate after having successfully sat interviews with the college’s board of trustees and after a review by Douglas W. Marcouiller, the provincial superior of the Jesuit’s Missouri Province, under which SJC falls.
Lopez spoke highly of Espat, saying to us that, “He did a wonderful job.”
“He is going to leave the college financially in the black,” said Lopez, adding that the college was running a deficit a few years ago. He also said that enrollment has gone up, which, he said, means their brand is in high demand.
We understand that Espat had declined the option to continue in the presidency because as the father of two young children, he wanted to spend more time with his family.
According to SJC’s press release, “The installation of Mr. Lopez to the [post of] president of the College signals his succession to Jorge L. Espat, whose term of office ended with the conclusion of this year’s commencement exercises held on Sunday, 8th June 2014.”
It added that Lopez is also an SJC alumnus, who has served at both SJC’s high school and junior college, located at the same campus.
Lopez has also served at the University of Belize as lecturer for Management and Social Sciences, serving fulltime there for 6 years, before his return to SJC.
He attained his Masters of Social Science from the University of Birmingham in England and served as headmaster at SJC from 1992 to 2000.
The new president designate told us that he has served at SJC for 30 years plus, and he also has served as coordinator at SJC’s Belizean Studies Resource Center. His history with SJC dates back to 1977.
He told us that the process which led to his presidential appointment started after the board established a search committee, which shortlisted him as one of the persons for the job. He said that he sat in a two-hour long interview with the board before the recommendation was sent up to Missouri, USA, for a final decision.
Lopez has been appointed to serve in the office of president for three years, with the option for renewal in 2017.
He told us that the handing over process should conclude by the end of this week, and he officially starts on the job Monday.
“I would want to pledge to build on [Espat’s] accomplishments by working assiduously with the team,” he told us.