"In the nearly thirty years since we both joined the faculty of St. Mary’s School, there have been many changes, but one thing has remained constant: our unvarying appreciation of Frank Phillips, first as a brilliant colleague and later as a leader of rare gifts, energy, and vision. He has also been a warm, unwavering friend and a traveling companion of unparalleled erudition.
When Frank became principal of St. Mary’s, the school had been experiencing a tough time. Within weeks of his appointment, faculty morale jumped, and it was clear that exciting changes and innovations were afoot. During Frank’s tenure, the school has purchased the land upon which our buildings sit, expanding our ability to raise funds and direct our own destiny; three separate building programs have been completed, vastly improving the school’s infrastructure and allowing it to attract, retain, and board new students from around the world; and the school’s excellent, but conventional, prep school curriculum has been replaced by a genuinely innovative curriculum that maintains very high academic standards while placing student choice at its heart. Enrollment has blossomed. And these are just the most obvious things--behind the scenes, innumerable improvements and innovations have been implemented.
While leading from the front for all of these fundamental changes, Frank found time--as well as being a deep thinker, he also has superhuman energy-- to develop and deliver new classes, to teach himself Italian and some Mandarin, to remain an approachable colleague, and to lead popular school trips to Italy with the late Patrick Naumes and ourselves. Frank’s withdrawal from his central leadership role will leave a lacuna that will be difficult to fill at both collegial and administrative levels. The school he leaves is unrecognizable compared to one he inherited: it is in an infinitely better position. And he is leaving his command in safe hands.
Frank’s tenure as the principal and president of St. Mary’s School has been an object lesson in how inspired leadership can turn a business around and nurture a new commitment to excellence and success in a community lacking a sense of purpose. Only through Frank’s vision, unceasing energy, and unparalleled dedication could all this have been achieved. His frank openness and honesty have made him a leader and friend of true value. He will be missed by all, but his legacy, like that of one of his great heroes, JRR Tolkien, will endure."
- Alastair & Ann Hunter, English Teachers, and long time friends