Mr Peter Joseph Cannon was appointed Principal in 1989.
Mr Cannon had been a Christian Brother and was a teacher at the school from 1969 to 1989. He was the first lay Principal appointed to the College. His gentle and quiet demeanor disguised an immense inner strength, which he had shown during his days as Deputy Principal from 1985 to 1988, following three years as Principal at St Augustine's Kyabram. The College Council was delighted to appoint to the position of Principal a man who had given so many years of devoted service to St Joseph's. The new Principal welcomed the chance to take the College into a new era, he faced a steep learning curve despite his four years as Deputy, as the previous Principal had not involved him as much as he would like with the operations of the College. This experience led to Mr Cannon ensuring that his successor, Mr Paul Tobias, was involved in all the major decisions during his final period in office.
Virtually the first educational task facing the new Principal was managing the introduction of the VCE, the new form of state wide assessment of students at the conclusion of their secondary studies. As with any change, there were teething problems to overcome. Mr Cannon believed that his three years at Kyabram had been enormously influential on his thinking about education, the school was effectively a co-educational comprehensive school for the region and had a range of practical subjects, woodwork, needlework and typing - none of the things we had down here in Geelong. Peter had also completed a Masters in Educational Administration at the University of New England in 1980. So he brought theoretical and practical knowledge to St Joseph's and it was clear from the start that under his leadership, the school was not simply going to mark time.
Broadening the the school's curriculum through the introduction of a Pathways vertical curriculum for Years 8-10 was one of the key changes, planning began in 1995 and the new system was implemented in 1998. Also in 1998, the Brothers ceased to live in their house at the College. Bringing to an end a continuous occupation since the late nineteenth century. The building was remodelled and a new VCE Centre and Technology Centre were opened.
By the 1990s the whole education scene was changing, the expanding range of VCE subjects and enhanced expectations taxed resources and put the College under pressure, never one to shy from a challenge, Peter Cannon contacted his counterpart at Sacred Heart College. The two put their heads together and came up with a co-operative co-institutional venture that quickly became the envy of other schools, a wider choice of a range of VCE subjects were available for senior students to study by working co-operatively together.
The final closure of Chanel College in 1999 saw an influx of new students and some staff as well. The year 2000 saw a seamless transition to a new lay Principal - Mr Paul Tobias.
Mr Peter Cannon continues to be a frequent visitor to the College and is heavily involved with humanitarian efforts in East Timor, he works with the Viqueque Friendship Group establishing connections between schools in Geelong with schools in East Timor. The Peter Cannon Performing Arts Centre is named in his honour.