ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-Saint Louis University President Lawrence Biondi, S.J., will retire September 1, 2013. That is the word sent from J. Joe Adorjan, chairman of the SLU Board of Trustees, to school faculty.
Fr. Biondi told the university’s board of his intent to retire from his position on May 4. He made his decision public that same night at a gala celebrating his 25 years of leadership.
Until now, there had been no timetable set for Biondi to step down. He is one of the longest serving presidents at an American Jesuit college or university
Adorjan announced that SLU Vice President and General Counsel William Kauffman has been named interim president. He will serve for the 2013-2014 academic year, but will not be a candidate for the presidency.
Saint Louis University is a Catholic, Jesuit institution founded in 1818. The University has nearly 14,000 students on two campuses in St. Louis and Madrid, Spain.
Although a dispute with professors and students led to his departure there`s no doubt Fr. Lawrence Biondi made huge improvements to St. Louis University during his tenure. Since he began at SLU in 1987 the university has made progress in so many ways.
Nygel Williams is a SLU student, "I think he really has been a blessing." Student said they are sad to see Fr. Biondi leave his post as president. During his time he`s helped raise more than 3/4 of a billion dollars for the school.
The size of campus has more than doubled. The number of building has grown from 62 to 131, including the Chaifetz Arena. Years ago the midtown area was unsafe, rundown and sketchy. Now fountains and green spaces replace crumbling buildings.
Nygel Williams said, "He`s meant so much when he first came here we were like the university was not even known he really put the university on the map."
Student teacher ratio has improved, there are more endowed chairs, plus there`s been an increase in ACT test scores for entering freshman. Lucsi Wang is a SLU student, "I think he`s had a positive influence on our campus despite the controversy he`s done a lot for our university."
Fr. Biondi`s positive impact on SLU has spilled over into the neighborhood surrounding the campus. Just ask the family that has owned The Best Steakhouse for five decades.
Dean Kases father started it in 1964, "For the small businesses the fact that Fr. Biondi invested so much for the students and the alumni in the area really made it worthwhile for us to stay and invest ourselves and grow with SLU."
As Midtown became more beautiful and safer more restaurants and businesses moved in and folks are grateful to Fr. Biondi.
More coverage: Father Biondi To Step Down As SLU President