College of Saint Benedict names Mary Hinton as 15th President

Hinton will lead the college into its second century

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March 19, 2014

Dr. Mary Dana Hinton

Media coverage: St. Cloud Times | The Record | Star Tribune | WJON | KNSI | Minnesota Public Radio

Mary Hinton has been selected as the 15th president of the College of Saint Benedict. Hinton, who currently serves as the vice president for academic affairs at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, NY.  She succeeds MaryAnn Baenninger, who announced in October 2013 that she would step down in June 2014, after serving 10 years as president of the college.

The appointment was made after a unanimous vote by the College of Saint Benedict Board of Trustees and was announced by Lynn Newman, chair of the CSB Board of Trustees and a co-chair of the CSB Presidential Search Committee.

"The CSB Board of Trustees was impressed with Dr. Hinton's breadth and depth of experience as a scholar and senior-level administrator in higher education," Newman said. "Her commitment to residential, liberal arts education is evident, and her passion for the advancement of women and her belief in our Benedictine values align well with the CSB mission. We are confident that she will be an outstanding president of CSB."

"The Presidential Search Committee and Board of Trustees believe Dr. Hinton's warmth, intellect and ability to connect with the search committee, faculty, staff, students and the board to be key strengths that will serve her well in her presidential role," Newman added.

"I am humbled by the opportunity to lead an institution with such a powerful liberal arts tradition that is grounded in the Benedictine values of the founding order," Hinton said. "CSB was built by strong and courageous women who knew the value of educating women and who celebrated and engaged both their intellectual and spiritual lives."

"It is an honor to succeed Dr. Baenninger, who has brought CSB to a position of enormous strength," Hinton said. "I feel fortunate to inherit not only the incredible foundation she has built during her tenure, but 100 years of excellence in women's education."

Strong background with liberal arts focus

Hinton's enthusiasm for leading CSB stems from her personal experience with liberal arts education as an undergraduate student at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. This, along with her professional experience on Catholic college campuses, has fueled her interest in integrating a spiritual perspective with a vibrant liberal arts education.

At Mount Saint Mary College, a Dominican college, Hinton provides senior administrative leadership for academic affairs, enrollment management, planning, assessment and institutional research and student affairs, among other areas. Hinton's passion for student retention led to the development of the Center for Student Success, a model program that provides comprehensive academic support services to improve student retention and persistence. She has extensive strategic planning and institutional effectiveness experience and chairs the college's Strategic Planning and Budgeting Committee.

Prior to her position at Mount Saint Mary College, Hinton was the associate vice president of academic affairs and chief planning and diversity officer at Misericordia University in Dallas, Pa. In this position she was responsible for all strategic planning activities, select areas of academic affairs including the Student Success Center and the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning and the Diversity Institute. She was also a member of the Mercy Integration Council, a group that sought to integrate the mission of the founding order, the Sisters of Mercy, into campus life. Initially at Misericordia University, she served as an assistant professor of religious studies and the coordinator of multicultural student affairs.

Hinton's work has been published in Inside Higher Education, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, Assessment Update and Religious Education. Recently, her scholarship was included in two books, "Religious Leadership" and "Teaching  for a Culturally Diverse and Racially Just World" and her own book, "The Commercial Church: Black Churches and the New Religious Marketplace in America," was published in 2011 by Lexington Books.

She is a frequent presenter at the Association for General and Liberal Studies annual meeting and at the annual Assessment Institute in Indianapolis. She has served on self-study evaluation teams for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, a regional accrediting body, and has consulted for Dickinson College and Bucknell University. She is a visiting faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania, in the Executive Doctorate in Higher Education Management program, and she has taught at Seattle University in the School of Theology and Ministry.

Hinton served as president of the Mid-Atlantic Region of the American Academy of Religion and on the boards of the Association of General and Liberal Studies, the Northeastern Two Year Colleges Association, the Religious Education Association and Luzerne County Community College. She is also on the education committee for the Newburgh Armory Unity Center and was named in the "Top 25 Businesswomen of Northeast Pennsylvania" in 2011.

In addition to her extensive experience in higher education, Hinton's career includes non-profit education organization management, philanthropic work in the corporate sector and work as a private elementary school teacher. She holds a Ph.D. in religion and religious education with high honors from Fordham University, a Master of Arts degree in clinical child psychology from the University of Kansas, Lawrence and a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Williams College.

A welcoming reception

Rita Knuesel, provost of the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University, affirms that Hinton is the ideal person to lead CSB into its second century. "Dr. Hinton has dedicated her entire career to education and therefore has developed a keen understanding of the changing landscape of higher education in the U.S," Knuesel said. "She is a visionary who is able to draw on her professional education and background to articulate the significance of the liberal arts as well as professional programs. I am confident that Dr. Hinton will continue CSB's momentum into the second century."

"I am delighted that Saint Ben's has chosen Dr. Hinton as its next president," said Michael Hemesath, president of SJU. "She is the perfect combination of scholar and administrator, and I look forward to working closely with her to advance both Saint Ben's and Saint John's and our coordinate relationship."

The appointment of Hinton comes at a critical time in the history of the college, as CSB will complete its centennial year in May 2014. "It is an exciting time to join the CSB community," Hinton said. "The next century of the college must continue and expand the 100-year legacy, and I look forward to helping CSB fulfill its top priorities to continue academic excellence, increase access to higher education and strengthen our national reputation as a leader in liberal arts education."

Hinton, her husband, Robert Williams, and their children, Hallela, Hillel and Hosanna, plan to move to Minnesota in June and make their home at the Renner House, the college's presidential residence in St. Joseph.

We look forward to welcoming Hinton and her family to the campus on June 15. She will take office July 1.


View a photo gallery of Dr. Hinton's visit to campus following her selection as the 15th president of CSB.