MaryAnn Baenninger; left: 2006, right: 2009 (Click thumbnails for larger images)
MaryAnn Baenninger's term as CSB president began in the 2004-2005 academic year, the next step in a career dedicated to higher education. She received her bachelor's degree and her Ph.D. from Temple University in Philadelphia, was a psychology professor at the College of New Jersey, Philadelphia University, and Washington College, and executive associate director of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, in which she was a liaison to 110 colleges and universities, coordinating their accreditation and choosing members for visiting evaluation teams.
Dr. Baenninger's presidency was very energetic and effective. In December 2004, Baenninger, CSB Board of Trustees, and the SJU Board of Regents developed and approved Strategic Directions 2010, a proposal to ensure the future of the colleges as superior, Catholic, undergraduate, liberal arts institutions. Strategic Directions 2010 is reassessed and revised annually by the Boards. In 2006, the Benedicta Arts Center was renovated and expanded to encourage the continued growth of the fine arts. The Gorecki Dining and Conference Center was completed and dedicated in 2007 to provide a better cafeteria for students as well as a convenient location to host events on campus. In September 2008, Baenninger completed "Our Place in the World: A Campaign to Inspire and Transform", a lucrative capital campaign that raised $82.7 million for CSB. Also in 2008, CSB and SJU successfully conducted a massive self-evaluation for The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools in order to secure reaccreditation. An office for sustainability and a CSB chapter of Phi Beta Kappa were established during her presidency. Dr. Baenninger helped achieve national recognition for CSB as an "Up and Coming" college from US News & World Report for several years including most recently in 2012. During the 2012-2013 academic year, Bennie seniors-members of CSB's centennial class of 2013-moved into Centennial Commons, the new student townhomes located across College Avenue from the campus. Multicultural diversity in the student body has greatly increased from 22 students of color in the first-year class in the fall of 2004 to 99 students of color in the first-year class in the fall of 2013 (18 percent of the class).
Throughout her presidency, Baenninger has worked hard on "reflection, connection, inspiration, action, and openness." To address the question, how can liberal arts institutions, and specifically the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University, respond to these imperatives?" she replied: "We can begin by nurturing reflective processes that can help our students make sense of a complex world. We must also present our disciplines as dynamic, connected, changing entities, not static bodies of knowledge to be delivered. And we must immerse our students in multifaceted experiences so that they might better understand interconnections. We must reward students for taking advantage of different opportunities on their college campuses and beyond." [Inaugural Address April 2005]
After ten years of dedicated service to the College of St. Benedict, Baenninger decided to step down from the presidency in the fall of 2013 in order to take advantage of career opportunities closer to her family. She has accepted the presidency of Drew University, a national liberal arts university in Madison, N.J. President Baenninger guided CSB through the remainder of its first century and celebrated its centennial year; her leadership and her legacy will continue to impact CSB's second century.
For more on MaryAnn Baenninger:
Special thanks to Meghan Flannery '15 for drafting this text.