CSB President Mary Dana Hinton Will Step Down in June 2020

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February 13, 2020

Mary Dana Hinton

Mary Dana Hinton

Mary Dana Hinton, 15th president of the College of Saint Benedict, will step down at Saint Ben’s at the conclusion of the academic year. She will become the 13th president of Hollins University in Roanoke, Va., on Aug. 1, 2020.

Hollins University has been devoted to the education of women since its founding in 1842 and is deeply committed to the liberal arts and academic excellence. For more than 60 years, Hollins has also offered graduate education opportunities to both men and women. 

The University, with the sixth largest endowment of private universities in Virginia, is recognized by U.S. News & World Report among Top Performers for Social Mobility. Students hail from 44 U.S. states and territories and 20 countries. Hollins features a nationally recognized creative writing program, the innovative Batten Leadership Institute, and the new Rutherfoord Center for Experiential Learning, which guarantees students real-world experiences beyond the classroom throughout all four years at the university.

“We are grateful for President Hinton’s inspiring leadership over the past six years, and for the ways she has positioned Saint Ben’s to thrive in the future,” said Barb Brandes, chair of the CSB Board of Trustees. “She has strengthened our commitment to our mission and vision, inspired our students and alumnae, enhanced our financial health and national profile, and reaffirmed our historical commitment to social justice and equity.”

In describing the opportunity to lead Hollins, Hinton said, “Hollins is a storied institution whose mission directly aligns with my vocation. I am called to serve and give voice to the needs and development of young women and Hollins has been a leader in this endeavor for over 175 years. I am honored by, and grateful for, the opportunity to do this work with a wonderful community that is also close to home for me and my extended family.”

Hinton began at Saint Ben’s in July 2014. Through a collaborative process, she implemented the college’s vision to provide a liberal arts education preparing women to think critically, lead courageously and advocate passionately. She leaves the college in a strong position, overseeing an impressive set of achievements:  

  • Inclusion and equity. Among President Hinton’s most important accomplishments has been her commitment to making Saint Ben’s a more welcoming community for all people. Her work to increase and institutionalize diversity and inclusion efforts on campus was central to the college receiving two grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support transformational inclusion. She has done this work while encouraging philanthropic growth and stewardship of the college’s financial resources, and building meaningful and lasting relationships with students, faculty, staff, alums, donors, sisters, and friends of the college. She was instrumental in the enrollment of Saint Ben’s in the American Talent Initiative, a national organization committed to bringing together public and private colleges to work collaboratively to expand access and opportunity for highly talented, lower-income students. 

  • Elevated national profile. President Hinton has been particularly successful in elevating the national profile and voice of Saint Ben’s as a thought leader in higher education, and specifically the liberal arts and women’s leadership development.

    Active in the national higher education arena, Dr. Hinton is chair of the Minnesota Private College Council Board of Presidents and is a member of the Board of Directors for the American Association of Colleges and Universities, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), Interfaith Youth Core, and the University Leadership Council. She speaks frequently on topics related to the liberal arts and inclusion and founded the national Liberal Arts Illuminated Conference (hosted at Saint Ben’s in 2016 and 2018).

    Dr. Hinton teaches in the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education doctoral program in higher education management, the Institute for Administrators in Catholic Higher Education and the CIC President’s Institute New President Program.

    As a result of Dr. Hinton’s national involvement, the rankings and national reputation of Saint Ben’s have risen markedly over the past six years.

  • Fundraising. During Dr. Hinton’s tenure, the college completed a $100 million comprehensive fundraising campaign, securing $105.4 million as of January 2020. This is the largest campaign in the college’s history and includes the two largest gifts to the college in its history. In November 2016, campaign funds helped to establish the new Fleischhacker Center for Ethical Leadership in Action, a permanent endowment fund which will fund the operations of the center, including the support of experiential learning as well as a mentoring program and speaker series.

    During Hinton’s presidency, the college’s endowment increased by 46 percent, its annual fund grew by 24 percent and the college completed its largest single day of giving, raising more than $432,000 in 24 hours, for student scholarships.

  • Facilities enhancements. Dr. Hinton led the process to implement a $43 million campus facilities update, enabling Saint Ben’s to provide premier facilities for teaching, learning and women’s leadership development. This includes the creation of Schoenecker Commons, cited among Finance and Commerce’s Top Projects 2018, new athletic facilities (including soccer and softball fields, practice fields and an athletics building for home and visiting teams) and significant renovations to the Main Building (built in 1913 as the original college building) and updates to Clemens Library, among other physical transformations on campus.  

  • Development and implementation of a strategic plan. For the first time in the college’s history, a strategic plan (Strategic Directions 2020) was created and fulfilled in partnership with Saint John’s University. Hinton led the collaborative development of the plan, which included elements to emphasize the individual strengths of Saint Ben’s, such as the holistic and transformational development of women, in addition to collaborative opportunities including a revised common curriculum. 
 “President Hinton’s heart for educating women has been evident throughout her tenure, and she has demonstrated an extraordinary ability to vision a future and motivate others toward that vision,” said Susan Rudolph, OSB, prioress of Saint Benedict’s Monastery. “Similar to Saint Ben’s, Hollins is a private women’s college whose mission is to nurture civility, integrity, and concern for others. Mary’s educational standards call others to be their best. We have been gifted by her presence and by the wonderful insights that have become guiding lights.” 
Through a variety of celebrations this spring, the college will recognize President Hinton and the ways she has enhanced the Saint Ben’s community. The community thanks her for her leadership and service and wishes her well as she embarks on a new leadership opportunity. 
The College of Saint Benedict Board of Trustees has retained Academic Search, Inc. to assist in the selection of the next CSB president.