The long-time leader of Villa Maria College in Buffalo will be retiring. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says Sister Marcella Marie Garus has been serving as president since 1978.
“I am past retirement age officially. I think my age is catching up with me,” said Sister Marcella Marie Garus.
Sister Garus has been president of Villa Maria for the last 40-years, but she has served Villa for 50-years.
Among big accomplishments in her leadership, Sister Garus has helped transform the college from a two to four year school, doubling the enrollment - that’s a major accomplishments as many private schools nationwide have struggled with a decline in students.
“We have moved from an associate degree institution to a baccalaureate institution, so we’ve done a lot of wonderful, wonderful things for the college and I feel the college is in a very, very good position right now. We’re just projecting growth and, so I think at this point, leaving the college is at a good junction because we’re moving along very well,” remarked Sister Garus.
Villa Maria has a Buffalo address, but is on the border of Cheektowaga. Garus was committed to serving the surrounding community, providing after school programs for young elementary students and working with Say Yes Buffalo.
“Yes, we’ve had the Say Yes program now that’s thriving for us. The afterschool program is sponsored by the college. We also have a food pantry that is sponsored by the college, so we do believe in community service and trying to serve the people of Western New York,” Sister Garus explained.
Garus is a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Felix. But she tells us she does not believe the next leader will be a nun when she retires.
“I’m pretty sure it will be laity - I don’t think we have another sister in the Felician order to be able to fulfill that. I met with the board of trustees and tender my retirement to them and I do understand that they’re already getting together a search committee."
Garus will be retiring in June. She is planning a sabbatical, but hasn't made any decisions on how she will spend her retirement.