Position Paper of the Consultants based on information from the Co-Institutional Study Committee and Visits to the Campus


Given the present tendencies in American higher education and in American life, all private institutions face serious problems of, if not relatively easy to catalogue. The society is becoming urban with 80% to 85% of the population expected to live in urban areas by 1980. It is probably also becoming more and more secular in outlook, although this is less easy to document. The relative proportion of college students educated in public and private education is shifting rapidly, at rates of about 2% a year so that by 1980 the present ratio of approximately 63% public and 37% private will likely have become 85% public and 15% private. And for the most part students will attend large institutions on the average of 20,000 students located in urban areas of 100,000 population or more. Further, higher education will continue to become more and more expensive both to the total society, perhaps 2% to 3% of the gross national product, and to institutions with costs rising at least 10% a year into the late 1970’s and possibly increasing at 15% per year. In response to such factors public higher education has moved rapidly toward systems of statewide coordination and control in order better to allocate resources, avoid duplication of effort and to insure that public funds for education arc efficiently used. Autonomous institutions are generally now regarded luxury no state can afford. Private institutions have also gradually begun to work out various systems of cooperation, coordination and even merger in response to the same forces. The various statewide associations to secure funds which were created in the 1950’s and isolated examples of close institutional coordination such as the Claremont Colleges have recently been joined a number of different efforts. The Great Lakes College Association, to Central State College Association, the mergers of Carnegie Institute and the Mellon Institute and of Case Institute and Western Reserve, the shift from private status to state affiliated status of the University of Pittsburgh and Temple University, and the cooperation of public and private institutions in such arrangements as the Mid-Missouri College Association are well known examples. And, of course, more can be expected.

It is in this context that the problems and concerns of Saint John’s University and the College of Saint Benedict must be viewed. Both are Catholic institutions formed and to a large extent operated by religious Orders. Both are relatively small (College of Saint Benedict 550, Saint John’s University 1400). Both are located in rural Minnesota approximately 75 miles northwest of Minneapolis. Both are essentially liberal arts colleges but with some vocational emphasis. Both recruit the largest proportion of their students from Minnesota Catholic families. Both of the founding religious Orders follow the same Rule of Saint Benedict. Both attract students from the middle ability levels as measured by tests of academic aptitude, although there arc some differences between the two institutions. Both have physical plants composed of Some quite old and some quite new buildings and have plans for substantial new building. Both institutions have begun to experience some severe financial strain as the cost of education has risen and as they each required more lay faculty members. And the two institutions are located within four miles of each other.

The question they face is whether there arc sound educational and economic values to be achieved from some form of cooperation or coordination and if so what should be the ideal form. The supporting orders and the faculties of each institution wish the institutions to continue in operation and they each wish the essential character of the two campuses to be preserved. Clearly before answers can be given to the two questions whether and how much relevant information and a number of relevant problems and issues should be considered.

Cooperation between the two institutions dates to the early 1940s when the Art, Sociology and Music Departments at Saint John’s University united with College of Saint Benedict faculty to teach on the Saint John’s campus. A more formal program began in 1963 when a score or more of students on each campus were allowed to enroll in a limited number of courses on the other campus. The size of this exchange enrollment has grown to something over five hundred students. In addition, several departments on each campus have in effect merged for purposes of curriculum building and faculty development. This sort of close cooperation has been encouraged by the central administrations from both institutions, which has resulted in several of the administrative offices searching for ways to cooperate and make more efficient their operations. During the academic year 1967-63 the two institutions have joined to issue a combined course bulletin and class schedule. For several years, the two institutions have conducted joint fall faculty conferences and have done such obvious things as coordinate lecture-concert and cultural event series.

During the academic year 1967-68 the degree of cooperation between the two institutions has expanded to include such activities as:

1. Exchange of information between a number of administrative offices.
2. Exchange of faculty members who offer courses on the campus other than their own.
3. Exchange of students who take courses on the other campus.
4. Use of common facilities by the Registrars’ offices.
5. Joint operation of a bus to facilitate movement of people between the two campuses.

Thus, the institutions have grown quite close together. However, there are still substantial differences with respect to the degree of cooperation and attitudes toward it by different offices. The range of practices and attitudes is revealed in an office-by-office analysis.

Academic Dean: Close cooperation on academic policies, preparation of the Joint Course Bulletin and intention to cooperate on faculty recruitment.

Admissions Office: Offices represent each other at College days and night, exchange information, and one admissions officer employed by Saint John’s represents Saint Benedict for a portion of his time.

Alumni Office: No coordination of effort as yet but there is a willingness to do so.

Bookstore: No coordination but a willingness to cooperate. Saint John’s bookstore is larger and in effect services a number of Saint Benedict students.

Student Affairs: Student orientation programs coordinated, student governments meet together and each council is represented on the other, clubs generally work together and plan joint meetings, a joint student directory is published, counselors discuss common professional problems, student discipline is handled quite differently n each of the two campuses. Saint John’s Dean of Students is removing restrictions on student personal life while the Saint Benedict Dean is considerably more protective.

Development: Little explicit cooperation but not antipathy toward it.

Duplicating Center at Saint John’s: Provides service to Saint Benedict on a cost basis.

Food Service: There is a meal ticket exchange system but the two food services each seem so complex at this time that further cooperation has not been attempted.

Guidance: No formal cooperation but some informal exchanges of ideas, information and material. There is some joint test scoring done.

Health Services: Each campus maintains its own.

Library: Students are free to use both libraries, consultation to avoid duplication of expensive items, have avoided a union catalog because Saint John’s library is so much larger than Saint’ Benedict’s. It would be easier for Saint John’s to absorb Saint Benedict’s catalog.

Placement: No coordination at present.

Prep School and High School: Some exchange of teachers and students, and a desire for closer relationships.

Public Information: Joint sponsorship of Fine Arts program, coordination of campus calendars.

Radio Station KSJV uses Saint Benedict girls in staff positions.

Registrars: Saint John’s processes Saint Benedict’s registration and the two offices cooperate on most matters.

Summer Session: No cooperation but a belief that it should come about.

Business Office: Exchange of information in 1967-68, each office has worked out long range projections, considerable skepticism on part of Saint John’s business office about cooperation.

President’s Office: Both Presidents want cooperation and do keep in touch with each other about critical matters. There have been several breakdowns in the process.

Physical Plant Planning: Each institution generally knows what the other is planning but there has been no coordination of effort. Indeed, there is some inconsistency of plans to build and plans to cooperate or merge.

This same diversity exists within academic departments. A few function as single departments, more discuss common problems and a few departments resist any serious thought about cooperation.

Art: A joint department, all courses open to all students, some problems unresolved.

Biology: Some friction, courses open to all students, not yet unified, conversations continue.

Chemistry: two departments, common course offerings, number of courses open to all students, departments wish to merge.

Communications and Theatre: Single department, co-chairmen, speech stressed on Saint John’s campus, theatre on Saint Benedict campus.

Computer Center: On Saint John’s campus, problem of transportation prevents girls from taking courses.

Economics: Two departments but common set of courses with over-lap only for Principles of Economics courses. Could be made one department.

Education: Two departments, free exchange of faculty and students, cooperation on practice teaching, more Education offered at Saint Benedict than at Saint John’s.

English: Two departments, joint course offerings to avoid overlap, joint purchase of audio-visual equipment, joint consideration of faculty needs, joint library acquisition.

Government: Department only at Saint John’s but courses open to Saint Benedict students.

History: Single department, same requirements for major at each institution.

Home Economics: Department at Saint Benedict, courses open to all students.

Modern Language: Latin, single department; German, joint meetings; French, joint meetings and common course offerings; Spanish, joint meetings but cooperation limited because of shifts in personnel.

Mathematics: Two departments, join course planning, problems over assignment of personnel.

Music: Two departments, joint course planning, all teaching done on Saint Benedict campus but merger of departments not yet possible chiefly because of space limitations.

Philosophy: Two departments about ready to become one, joint course planning.

Physical Education: Two departments, no joint course offerings, willingness to consider joint efforts.

Physics: Two departments but all Physics taught at Saint John’s. One professor from Saint Benedict teaches full time at Saint John’s.

Psychology: One department at Saint John’s teaches courses on both campuses.

Sociology: Single department, joint course planning, Saint Benedict depends on Saint John’s to teach upper level courses. Transportation is a problem.

Theology: Two departments, joint program of courses, sensed differential in training of Saint John’s and Saint Benedict faculty.

In general there seems to be a willingness on the part of the departments, with few marked exceptions, to cooperate or even to merge. The cooperation to date has been greatest with respect to course planning and least with respect to faculty recruitment policy. There is some feeling that the faculties and students of the two institutions are not exactly comparable in either their training or the ability of students. However, in the departments exhibiting the greatest cooperation this does not appear to have been of significance. Some further observations concerning the readiness of departments to merge are contained in Appendix A.

It is in the context of these efforts at cooperation that the present inter-institutional study should be viewed. With support from the Hill Foundation in the form of a grant of $40,000, the two institutions have decided to study further cooperation and the possible form that might take. The study would be conducted by a six-person committee chaired by the Academic Dean at the College of Saint Benedict with her counterpart from Saint John’s serving as vice-chairman. The committee appointed a chief consultant who, in turn, appointed two associate consultants, and a panel of five to review findings. The general plan called for the committee to search for relevant information, the consultants to visit the campus and prepare a working paper, and for the panel to review that and make formal recommendations regarding the best future course of action. The study should be completed by mid-summer and should indicate not only what might be done but also dates for accomplishment as well.

Relevant Factors

How much cooperation there can be between two institutions depends on a variety of human and institutional factors. Saint John’s University and the College of Saint Benedict, while they have much in common, are also quite discrete entities possessing differences which could prevent any lasting cooperative arrangements.

The first of these is governance. Saint John’s University is operated by the religious Order of Saint Benedict under a charter originally granted by the State of Minnesota March 6, 1857, and subsequently amended.3 The University has never been a separate corporate entity although it does maintain a Board of Trustees and separate fiscal structure. The Abbey is located on the same ground as the University and the Board of Trustees is chaired by the Abbot. The College of Saint Benedict, on the other hand, is a separate corporate entity chartered by the State of Minnesota October 13, 1961. Original1y it had been operated by the religious Order of Saint Benedict along with other activities including several hospitals. But its present form is different from that of Saint John’s.

Both institutions are governed by Boards of Trustees composed entirely of members of their respective religious Orders. The Abbot of Saint John’s and the Prioress of Saint Benedict are chairmen of their respective boards. Both institutions also maintain Associate Boards of Trustees composed of laymen who advise and who assist on interpreting the institutions to the lay public. These two boards, although having no legal power, apparently have considerable influence. The actual Boards of Trustees in theory appoint the presidents of the two institutions, but in practice the superior of each Order seems to control such decisions.

Under the presidents serve the usual range of administrative officers found in academic institutions. These individual also serve on Administrative Council designed to advices their respective presidents and to set broad administrative policy. Apparently there is no corporate faculty having a policy-making role, although there are faculty committees which act with delegated authority. The composition of the Boards of Trustees and the Administrative Councils is shown below.

Saint John’s University Board of Trustees:

Abbot Baldwin W. Dworeschak, Chairman
Reverend Berthold E. Ricker
Reverend John A. Eidenschink
Reverend Florian E. Muggli
Reverend Aloysius R. Michels
Reverend Alfred H. Deutsch
Reverend Paulin M. Blecker
Reverend Michael J. Marx
Reverend Cuthbert Soukup
Reverend Roger Schoenbechler

College of Saint Benedict Board of Trustees:

Mother Henrita Osendorf, Chairman
Sister Mary Grell, Vice-Chairman
Sister Firmin Escher, Secretary
Sister Mary Mark Donovan
Sister Mary Mark Donovan
Sister Jameen Mape, Queen of Peace Hospital, New Prague, Minnesota
Sister Mary Patrick Murray
Sister Clyde Pavelski

Administrative Council -SJU

Reverand Colman Barry, Chairman
Reverend Hilary D. Thimmesh
Mr. Donald W. Conway
Reverent Florian E. Muggli
Mr. Stephen B. Humphrey
Reverend Vitus Ruchor
Reverend Luke Steiner
Mr. William Van Cleve
Reverend Brice Howard
Dr. John Lange
Mr. Joseph Farry
Reverend Gunther Rolfson

Administrative Council -CSB

Sister Mary Grell, President
Sister Firmin Escher, Academic Dean
Sister Mary Mark Donovan, Sean of Students
Terrence J. McKenna, Business Manager
Cliff R. Sakry, Director of Public Relations
James W. Sassen, Director of Development
Constance E. Zierden, Director of Admissions and Placement
N.K. Zackowski

Now several critical factors emerge from these two governance structures, which have relevance for greater cooperation and for possible merger. The first concerns the problem of-religious Orders and institutions actually sharing the same land and facilities. At Saint John’s, the quarters for the members of the Order are located in an extension of a central academic building. At Saint Benedict, the land problem is less crucial but still is confused. Food for the College is prepared in a kitchen owned by the Order but is served in a cafeteria owned by the College. Were the two institutions to merge, a serious question would arise with respect to the holdings and future role of the two sponsoring Orders. Obviously, this is not insurmountable but it will be a taxing problem.

The second factor is the composition of the two student bodies, which, in turn, is related to the educational mission of each institution. There appears to be a strong feeling both among the faculty and student body of Saint John’s that the students there are a more capable group who, for the most part, are heading for graduate or professional schools while Saint Benedict students, according to stereotype, are heading for marriage, teaching or religious Orders. And there is some substance to the face of difference. However, the significance of the differences has yet to be established.  Exhibit I below indicated the aptitude test scores for students from the two institutions for entering freshmen in the fall of 1967.


Mathematics Verbal
Scores St. John’s St. Ben’s St. John’s St. Ben’s
750-800 5 0 3 0
700-749 38 0 15 0
650-699 71 3 25 5
600-649 110 10 82 13
550-599 132 19 80 19
500-549 101 37 145 33
450-499 80 28 127 36
400-449 16 27 62 27
350-399 1 14 13 9
300-349 1 7 3 4
250-299 1 1 1 0
Untested 15 7 15 1
Total 571 153 571 153

Both institutions attract their students chiefly from the Middle West, although Saint John’s has students from thirty states and thirteen foreign countries while Saint Benedict students come from twenty states and eight foreign countries. Saint John’s for 1963-1964 enrolled 777 students from Minnesota while Saint Benedict enrolled 392 students from that state.

Saint Benedict clearly enrolls a larger percentage of rural students than does Saint John’s. This comparison is shown in Exhibit II below.

Exhibit II: Origins and Backgrounds of Students
Undergraduate Students

Category Saint John’s St. Ben’s
Domicile % %
   Urban 55 31
   Suburban 0 3
   Small Town 34 32
   Rural 11 34
Religious Preference
   Protestant 1 .4
   Catholic 98 99.6
   Jew 0 0
   Other 1 0
Parental Status
   Income to $3000 6
   3000-7500 40
   7501-12000 37
   12000- 17
Occupation (Father)
   Professional-Managerial 40 25
   Clerical & Sales 16 18
   Service Occupations 10 5
   Agriculture Related 12 24.5
   Skilled Worker 9 8
   Semi-Skilled Worker 4 8
   Unskilled Worker 3 6

Exhibit III: Selectivity of Students

Saint John’s Saint Benedict
Applying Admitted Applying Admitted
1961 657 362 294 166
1962 708 378 256 161
1963 671 372 297 162
1964 849 443
1965 973 469 402 189

The third important factor involves location and physical plant expansion. Saint Benedict has recently built a three million dollar art center and a new residence hall. It has plans to build a new library, student center, two new residence halls and a new power plant.  Saint John’s has completed an abbey church, a cluster of three new  residence halls and a new science center, and has plans to build another cluster of residence halls, a swimming pool-gymnasium complex and a new student center or union. Plans arc well along for these structures but funding has not yet been secured. Now the significance of the building program is that existing space is not being fully utilized. The fine arts center is too large for existing needs at Saint Benedict as is the science center at Saint John’s. While the Director of Admissions at Saint John’s claims that there is no real surplus of residence hall spaces, other officers at the institution claim that from forty to one hundred excess spaces now exist. Each institution would like to use its space more effectively and would like to expand its enrollment to do so. However, the enrollment rate at both institutions is stable. For example, as of March 15, 1963 Saint John’s has accepted 464 new freshmen and upper classmen as compared with 457 at the same date a year ago. Total applications for the two periods are 643 and 644. Similar rates prevail at Saint Benedict.

Although the two institutions have been cooperating for some time and the Presidents have each stated the need for more cooperation or even complete merger, plans for future building have been made at each institution as though the other did not exist. Saint John’s is planning a capital development program of perhaps three to five million dollars and Saint Benedict is actively searching for federal loans to aid it in building a new residence hall.

If the institutions were to cooperate more closely or merge, clearly these building plans should be revised. But college administrators seem generally more jealous of physical plant than any other part of the enterprise. Some of the friction already experience in the exchange of faculty and students is predicated on each institution wanted to exploit is own physical plant, e.g., the new science facility at Saint John’s. And a potential road block to closer cooperation is the Associate Board of Trustees at Saint John’s which is planning the development campaign.

Then, there is the matter of level and style of finance for operating expenses. Income for the two institutions for academic year 1964-1965 is indicated below.

EXHIBIT IV: Income 1964-1965

Saint John’s Saint Benedict
Student Fees
   Laity $1,062,529 $309,795
   Clergy and Religious 942,213 342,390
Government 38,575
Gifts and Grants 324,426 163,132
Contributed Services 402,511
Auxiliary Enterprises
Total $1,425,530 $1,049,470

Position Paper Continued…