Guest Editorial: Brother Mann to return home


by SMU President Brother William Mann

As many of you are well aware, this is my 10th year as president of the university, and I write today to let you know that I will be concluding my service at Saint Mary’s and returning home to the East Coast in June 2018.

Since 1984, I have only lived at home in my own District of the Brothers for about five years. These wonderful 10 years at Saint Mary’s in the Lasallian Midwest District of the Brothers of the Christian Schools and commitments and obligations of leadership within the worldwide Institute of the De La Salle Christian Brothers have kept me away from home for long enough.

This past weekend I turned 70 years old. While I am in good health, it seems appropriate that I prepare to change the intensity and the pace of activities and take the opportunity to spend a bit more time with my family. My religious superiors in the Lasallian District of Eastern North America and I came to this decision about two weeks ago after having spent the summer months in reflection, prayer, and discernment.

While I may be in my final year as president, the university is still enjoying the new spring of its second century. As I shared at our recent university convocation, Strategic Plan 2017 has begun to produce extraordinarily positive and good fruit:

• Goal 4: Science Initiative — the opening in 2017 of a 50,000 square-foot state-of-the-art facility at the college in Winona … the inauguration in 2017 of a collaboration with Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences on a new and prestigious 3+2 physician assistant program … the acquisition of Cascade Meadow Wetlands & Environmental Science Center in 2015 and the recent groundbreaking at this locus of the SGPP Rochester Initiative … an expanded 25,000 square-foot state-of-the-art facility.

• Goal 6: Graduate Online Initiative — a cost and revenue sharing partnership with Wiley Deltak that has grown from 47 graduate students five years ago to over 1,200 students with a 90 percent persistence rate.

• Goal 2: Mission & Identity Initiative — First Generation (undergraduate scholars and high school Countdown-to-College components) … an internationally recognized Lasallian Research Symposium … Lasallian education and formation participation by faculty, staff, and administrators resulting in positive attention not just to the university but increasingly to professors and staff of the university publishing on the topic and being invited to present at national and international conferences and symposia.

• Goal 9: Philanthropy Initiative (moving the needle) — from an on-average of $4.5 million raised annually to a total of more than $55 million raised in the past four years; meaning that all of the initiatives mentioned to this point have either funded themselves or been completely funded by philanthropic investment, because benefactors, trustees, alums, families, and friends believe we are serious in what we set out to do in Strategic Plan 2017.

Thank you to so many of you for your good and hard work in collaborating together with me, and by association, over these 10 years. Our work, however, is not finished. There is much yet to be done for the good of our students and the university. Know that I pledge my wholehearted commitment to work with you during the year ahead, and I ask the same of you.

At some point in the not too distant future, the leadership of the Board of Trustees will be in communication with the university community about plans for the identification of the 14th president of Saint Mary’s.


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