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Campus & Community

Farewell and thank you: Transitional presidents left huge impact on CSB and SJU

Through their tremendous optimism and the energy they brought to their work, College of Saint Benedict Transitional President Laurie Hamen and Saint John’s University Transitional President Jim Mullen have made an impact on the two institutions that will be felt long after June 30, when their respective tenures come to a close.

Hamen, who began her appointment in July of 2020, and Mullen, who began his in June of 2021, have been the co-pilots wisely guiding CSB and SJU into a new model of joint governance that is already serving as a bold example for others across the shifting landscape of American higher education.

New leadership model

That model is known as Strong Integration – a leadership framework in which CSB and SJU now operate under two boards made up of common members, and will have their first joint President when Brian Bruess, Ph.D. assumes this historic new position July 1.

Hamen played a lead role in piloting CSB and SJU through the process that led to approval of the change in governance and leadership structure from the Higher Learning Commission, the organization that accredits degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in the North Central region of the United States. That approval came in November of 2021.

Hamen and Mullen both then worked tirelessly to ensure Bruess inherits a streamlined, more integrated administrative structure while still maintaining the historically unique elements of CSB and SJU.

“It is difficult to appropriately summarize the significant impact that Laurie and Jim have had on our institutions,” said LeAnne Stewart ’87, the chair of the CSB and SJU Common Boards.   

“The strength of their partnership, the breadth of their experience and wisdom and the force of their combined leadership enabled the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University to reach the place we are today – an innovative and precedent-setting moment for the future of our institutions. Laurie and Jim enabled the future by articulating and demonstrating what the future holds and have inspired our entire community in its Strong Integration journey.”

“Laurie and Jim have enriched these two schools and communities in so many profound ways: their leadership and seamless partnership has prepared and enabled CSB and SJU for a single leadership governance model, they have built trust, accountability and momentum,” added Bennett Morgan ’85, the vice chair of the CSB and SJU Common Boards.

“From the moment they arrived, they have selflessly modeled, led and paved the way for stronger, bolder and more nimble institutions that can and will thrive together in the future. We are indebted to their service and leadership!”

Steady hands

Hamen and Mullen have also been calm and steady hands in turbulent times. Each assumed their roles in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic, presenting challenges unlike any that have arisen before.

But the two have helped formulate and shape response plans to as the situation surrounding COVID-19 changed.

Hamen and Mullen have also both made inclusion, justice and equity top priorities. Among the most significant events in their respective tenures were the opening of the new CSB and SJU Multicultural Center in CSB’s Murray Hall last fall and the announcement of a new global health minor at the two schools earlier this spring.

In addition, CSB – in partnership with SJU – welcomed two new graduate nursing cohorts last fall – the first doctoral program in school history. Meanwhile, the Physics Department at the two schools announced a new engineering emphasis that will start with the beginning of the 2022-23 school year.

Mullen and Hamen’s time here also saw the opening of the Experience Hub, located in the Clemens Library on the CSB campus. It brings together four key offices in the same location, allowing students the ability to draw on the experiential learning opportunities each provide without having to trek to multiple locations.

Those offices are:

Key hires

Their tenure also saw the hiring of Cheryl A. Stanton as the first General Counsel and Corporate Secretary to the Boards of Trustees in December of 2021, as well as the development of a new marketing and communications team created through the integration of marketing and communications roles from across the two institutions.

That team is led by a Vice President for Marketing and Communication Katie Alvino, who was hired in the summer of 2021.  In addition, Hamen presided over the hiring of Kelly Anderson Diercks as the athletic director at CSB in May of 2021. Just this past spring, Erin Muckerheide was hired as the new chief human resources officer at both schools.

It is for all these accomplishments, and many more contributions, that Hamen and Mullen will both be long remembered at CSB and SJU. We thank them for their service and wish them all the best in the future.

Jim and Laurie

Saint John’s University Transitional President Jim Mullen and College of Saint Benedict Transitional President Laurie Hamen