Stanley Idzerda; left: undated, center: 1970, right: undated. (click thumbnails for large images)
Dr. Stanley J. Idzerda was the eighth president of the College of Saint Benedict and the first lay president of a women's college in Minnesota. He took office on July 1, 1968.
Idzerda was born in New York City in 1920. He served in the United States Navy - surviving the attack at Pearl Harbor - and subsequent to his service, he earned bachelor's degrees at the University of Notre Dame and Baldwin-Wallace College in European History. He continued his academic career by earning his masters and doctorate in philosophy from Western Reserve University.
Dr. Idzerda was awarded teaching positions at Western Michigan University, Michigan State University, Wesleyan University and Yale University. Prior to his position as president at the College of St. Benedict, Stanley was the Director of the Honors College at Michigan State and Dean of the College at Wesleyan University. His expertise was in French history and American literature.
Taking office in 1968, Dr. Stanley Idzerda proved to be an energetic force in the small Catholic community of the College of St. Benedict. Idzerda's stint as president saw record surges in enrollment. In the fall of 1972, the College enrolled over 1100 full-time students, a 20 percent increase over the previous year and the largest increase experienced by any Minnesota college. Dr. Idzerda also implemented new programs, including Nursing, East Asian Studies, Physical Therapy, Liberal Studies and Individualized Majors that complemented the 29 already established majors.
The first of many programs in place today were under the direction of the eighth (and the first male) president of the college. The first study abroad program occurred in the fall of 1972 to southern France. Summer classes began enrollment in the summer of 1973, and plans for employing student workers on campus began in 1973.
Dr. Idzerda resigned from the office of President June 1974 to serve as the editor-in-chief of the Marquis de Lafayette's papers at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, a project sponsored by the U.S. National Archives. The papers were published in the volumes titled Lafayette in the Age of the American Revolution--Selected Letters and Papers, 1776-1790.
In 1979, Dr. Idzerda returned to the College of Saint Benedict to serve as a history professor until his retirement in 1990.
Dr. Idzerda was married to Geraldine Walters of Ohio in 1945, and they had a family of seven children whom they raised in their home on the CSB campus. Idzerda House subsequently became the home of other presidents, and later was designated as student housing.
On Sunday, July 29, 2012 Dr. Idzerda was named an honorary member of the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict for his special and lengthy relationship with the Monastery. The relationship began with his arrival at College of Saint Benedict as president. Dr. Idzerda, or "Brother Stan" as he is fondly called by the sisters, participates in the Monastery's Liturgy of the Hours and the Eucharist, considering the services central to his life.
Dr. Stanley Idzerda passed away on August 6, 2013 at the age of 93. Dr. Idzerda, his parents, and his wife are among the few buried in the Sister's cementary who were not members of the Order of St. Benedict. The Idzerda Community Center in Centennial Commons was named in his honor.
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