MIDTOWN ST. LOUIS (KTVI)- It was a shocker from the Saint Louis University campus Saturday night as embattled president, Father Lawrence Biondi, announced to a group of donors that he would retire. The sudden move comes just as it appeared Biondi had dug into his position against a faculty and many students who were calling for his ouster.
More coverage: Father Biondi To Step Down As SLU President
It had been a state of unrest and protest around the school, with pickets showing up nearly everywhere Biondi went. But with word of his departure, detractors are not dancing in the streets.
“None of us, I think, considers this a victory,” SLU English professor and Biondi critic Paul Lynch said. “I think it’s good that we’re seeing the end of his presidency. I think it’s best for SLU. But it’s not something anyone is taking glee or delight in as though we won. I think there’s still work to do to right the ship.”
It is a ship that is far from unanimous in it’s opinions of Biondi. A release from the university touts his work in raising and investing more than $1.5 billion during his tenure. Many students feel that should be his legacy.
“I was actually kind of sad to see him go because some of the students are making a big fuss about him and I don’t think they’re concentrating on what’s right for the school,” student Allison Smith said.
But critics see many problems beneath the shiny exterior of the Midtown campus Biondi helped transform.
“SLU has lost ground in national rankings,” Lynch said. “A SLU education is becoming more expensive out of pocket for students and their families. There have been cuts to library funding. There have been cuts to academics. There’s a general sense that we’ve lost our way as a university.”
Finding a new compass will come with the search for a successor. Just what kind of role Biondi might play will be the next thing his critics will be watching.
“Father Biondi says he will be involved in the picking of his successor. I think a lot of us have concerns about that. I think unfortunately the relationship between the faculty and Father Biondi has so deteriorated that I think it would be best if a committee were appointed that did not include Father Biondi."
SLU Staff & Students March Against Father Biondi