Dr. Timothy J. McNiff is retiring as superintendent of schools of the archdiocese in April.
After serving in that capacity for the past decade, Dr. McNiff cited his desire to return to his family’s home in Virginia and spend more time with his wife, children and grandchildren.
The years he has worked for the archdiocese “have been the most rewarding and affirming experience I have been blessed to encounter in my career,” Dr. McNiff said.
Dr. McNiff added, after 10 years of travel between New York and Virginia, “and too much time apart from my family, simply put—it is time to go home.”
Deputy Superintendent of Schools Michael Deegan will then serve as the interim superintendent while a national search is conducted for a permanent replacement.
Upon his return to Virginia, Dr. McNiff will assume a newly created role with an organization providing enrichment opportunities to high schools throughout the country.
Appointed to the archdiocesan post by Cardinal Edward Egan, Dr. McNiff has served as superintendent of schools since September 2008. Before that, he was schools superintendent in the Diocese of Arlington, Va., for 13 years.
Dr. McNiff, 63, lived in New York as a child and attended St. Augustine School in New City. He holds a doctorate in educational administration.
“What has captured my heart and my enjoyment up here is just how important and how terrific these schools are, and what teachers do for all of our children.” Dr. McNiff told CNY Nov. 29, three days after the announcement.
He emphasized “the inner-city areas, where we have poverty, and how important their work is.”
“It’s for all of our children,” he said, “and they do it so well, and they do it on a daily basis. And I absolutely believe that work is as important today, if not more, than any time in our history.”
Adherence to Catholic identity has been integral to the mission of Catholic education in the archdiocese, Dr. McNiff said. “This is the reason these schools are as important, if not more important today, than ever before. What we’re trying to convey in so many ways now seems to be countercultural, but the (tenets) of what we’re trying to teach are so important that we need to hold on to our faith, which we commonly call a Catholic identity within our schools.”
Dr. McNiff also thanked the many stakeholders who make the ministry of Catholic education work.
“In a system of our size, it takes a multitude of Catholic educators, pastors, parents, board members and benefactors to fulfill our mission of preparing children for college and to become contributing members of society as adults,” he said.
“Over the course of serving as superintendent in this archdiocese, I have not lost an appreciation for the time, energy and passion these stakeholders contribute to our Catholic schools. Any success we have achieved over the past decade is a tribute to their talent and hard work.”
Dr. McNiff credited the leadership and support of Cardinal Dolan as the main reason for the schools’ success. He cited the shift to a regional-based school model from a parish-based one, higher state exam scores and stabilizing enrollments in the majority of schools as among the archdiocese’s biggest accomplishments.
“Our Catholic schools have been truly blessed to benefit from Dr. McNiff’s professional acumen and zeal for evangelizing children,” Cardinal Dolan said. “He has confronted some of the starkest challenges our schools have seen in their 200-year history of service,” the cardinal said.
“The legacy of Catholic education in the Archdiocese of New York has been indelibly changed for the better thanks to our time with Dr. McNiff. I wish him and his family all the grace and gifts of God as they move on from New York.”
Deegan has been involved in Catholic education for more than 40 years in a number of academic and administrative roles, and served as deputy for Dr. McNiff’s entire tenure.