St. Viator High School's biggest night of the year, its Night of the Lion fundraising gala, turned out to be an emotional tribute for the outgoing president of the school, The Rev. Robert M. Egan, Saint Viator class of 1969.
Nearly 400 guests filled the ballroom at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel -- parents, alumni, business leaders and members of the Viatorian Community. They all came to honor Egan as he completes his eighth year.
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Guests arrived to find the energy ramped up, with the St. Viator jazz band playing during the reception. The Rev. Corey Brost, the school's incoming president, opened the program, recalling that Egan, a St. Viator graduate himself, had a unique perspective to his leadership role.
"Mick, you embraced the St. Viator values as a student and you have spent your entire adult life spreading them as a Viatorian," Brost said.
A video tribute included testimony from Arlington Heights Mayor Arlene J. Mulder, who has since retired, as well as Egan's colleagues and students. Guests learned all that was achieved during his tenure:
• Egan instituted one of the first drug-testing programs at area schools as a deterrent to substance abuse. He also established a mandatory service requirement for students, while doubling tuition assistance from $670,000 in 2005 to $1.3 million this school year.
• Under Egan's leadership, St. Viator won status as a National Blue Ribbon School, and he currently is shepherding a $10 million "Shaping the Future with Faith" capital campaign, which will add classrooms, a new cafeteria, student commons area, fine arts studios and rehearsal space.
"He truly embodies the mission and vision of the school," said the Rev. Thomas von Behren, provincial and former St. Viator president.
Members of the board gathered with past board members and supporters to surprise Egan with a trip to Paris and the Normandy coast this summer, knowing his love of history and travel.
True to form, Egan downplayed his role in the school's success, instead crediting the faculty, staff, and the students, whom he called "the school's best ambassadors."
"Our mission is to give students an education that is outstanding and excellent, and to mold them into people of faith," Egan said. "I'm thankful for your friendship and support, and confident that there are even better days ahead."