IN 10 years, Philip Morison steered Emmanuel College through record expansion with a doubling of student and staff numbers plus multi-million-dollar redevelopment.
It’s a lesson in success that any principal could rightly be proud of, yet he’s decided to walk away and tackle new challenges.
The 51-year-old will leave in January to become principal at Mount Lilydale Mercy College in charge of 1450 students.
Emmanuel’s enrolment soared from 662 to 1224 since Mr Morison arrived in January 2003.
Next term, a third campus will open as the first stage of a masterplan to enable the college to reach a target maximum of 1500 students in the next 20 years.
“Our leadership base is very solid to take the college to its next stage of growth,” he said.
“I would have loved to have finished my career in Warrnambool — it’s the best kept secret in Victoria and a fantastic place to bring up a family.
“However, you can’t be a senior principal for 25 years.
“Professionally it’s time to move on and I’ve seen an appropriate opportunity.
“And it’s right for the school’s development.”
The decision to cut ties with the college for metropolitan Melbourne involved the whole Morison family.
Philip’s wife Jennifer teaches at Emmanuel and their four children are students there.
“We love Warrnambool and the school,” he said.
Mr Morison attributed the growth to dedicated staff and greater acceptance of Emmanuel’s value-based ethics education, including those outside the Catholic tradition.
“Emmanuel College is interested in education to develop talents to serve the community, a focus on the whole person,” he said.
“People believe our values are worthwhile and they want them.
“I believe the college is on the cusp of greater things.”
Mr Morison said Emmanuel was not a private college, but a low-fee Catholic school providing education opportunities for all levels of society.
He paid tribute to the strong sense of community within the college, which came to the fore after five former students died in a car crash near Penshurst last November.
“It was a hugely difficult time,” he said. “I’m just a part of this great community which looked after each other.
“People band together when support is needed.”
A statement from the Emmanuel governors yesterday paid tribute to Mr Morison’s leadership of the college, which is in its 140th year.
Applications to fill the vacancy will be called for in the next six weeks.