The late President Emeritus Br. Dietrich Reinhart, OSB, served as 11th president of Saint John's University from July 1, 1991 to Oct. 21, 2008. He died on Dec. 29, 2008.
In October 2008, upon Reinhart's resignation after 17 years as president, the Saint John's Board of Regents announced the establishment of The Benedictine Institute at Saint John's University in his honor.
A tribute was held for Reinhart at the annual Saint John's Day on April 17, 2009. The evening included the presentation of several posthumous awards, including the Fr. Walter Reger Distinguished Alumnus Award and honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from Saint John's University and the University of St. Thomas. On March 24, 2009, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann honored Reinhart for his lifelong dedication to service in Collegeville, Minn., and the Catholic collegiate community. Bachmann published a statement in the Congressional Record, the official record of the proceedings of the House of Representatives.
During Reinhart's tenure as president, enrollment grew by nearly nine percent and the academic profile of entering students rose dramatically; the university's endowment grew from $36 million to just over $145 million and Saint John's successfully completed the largest capital campaign in its history, One Generation to the Next: The Campaign for Saint John's.
Other significant undertakings during his presidency included the designation, with Saint John's Abbey, of the entire 2,700 acres of Saint John's campus as an Arboretum and the commissioning of calligrapher Donald Jackson to handwrite and illuminate The Saint John's Bible.
Under Reinhart's leadership, the Saint John's campus underwent a physical transformation, including the construction of a new Sexton Commons campus center; expansion and renovation of SJU's athletic facilities; renovation of the Quadrangle, Saint Benet Hall and Emmaus Hall; renovation of the Peter Engel Science Center and construction of a new science building; construction of a Flynntown Community Center; and construction of apartment-style housing on campus in Saint Vincent Court, and Saints Placid and Maur Houses.
In collaboration with its educational partner, the College of Saint Benedict, Reinhart co-led the creation of the first joint strategic plan, creating a permanent relationship of interdependence and a partnership unique in all of higher education. The goals of the coordinate relationship are to strengthen and advance a common academic program; enhance the educational experience of students by sharing resources, including programs, faculty, staff and facilities; and draw on Benedictine values to offer an exceptional liberal arts education in the Catholic university tradition.
Reinhart began leading future plans to renovate and expand the Alcuin Library, make a Saint John's education possible for more first-generation college students and create more explicit programs and strategies to ensure quality reflection, discourse and action around core mission commitments of the Catholic intellectual tradition and Benedictine values.
Reinhart chaired the board of the Association of Benedictine Colleges and Universities (ABCU), and served on the board of directors for ABCU, Bremer Bank, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU), Minnesota Private College Council (MPCC), the Central Minnesota Community Foundation and the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Reinhart was born in Minneapolis in 1949. After graduation from DeLaSalle High School, he came to Saint John's as a student in 1967 intending to study government and prepare himself for a career in law. Like many students who come to Saint John's, his interests and the values which were to shape his life changed: he graduated from Saint John's magna cum laude in history and entered the monastery the following summer. He was professed as a Benedictine monk July 11, 1972.
Reinhart completed his doctoral studies in history at Brown University in 1984. His dissertation - "The Parliamentary Visitation of Oxford University, 1646-1652" - is a study of conflict between religious, university and government officials at Oxford, during a time of enormous political and social unrest and economic instability in England.
Upon his return to Saint John's, Reinhart joined the faculty of the department of history, regularly teaching First-Year Symposium, Tudor-Stuart History and Reformation History. He was a faculty resident in the campus residence halls from 1984-1991. In 1988, he was elected dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, a post he held until his election to the presidency by the Board of Regents in January 1991.