SLU’s Father Biondi announces resignation

Father Lawrence Biondi, president of St. Louis University, will resign after 25 years in the position amidst ongoing controversy over his leadership from faculty and students.

The decision follows widespread concern about Biondi’s management, which many say has impeded the school’s growth in rankings and to provide a supportive environment for students and faculty.

In a university statement quoted by the school’s student newspaper, Biondi said that his choice to leave the position was made with the Board of Trustees’ approval.

“I have decided it is time for a transition in leadership for Saint Louis University — time for me to move on to the next phase of my life,” Biondi said in the statement.

The announcement, which Biondi made at a Saturday night gala for members of the school’s Board of Trustees, comes at the heels of months of disapproval over the school’s governance. In a 35-2 vote last October, SLU’s faculty senate made a vote of no confidence in the school’s president, as the Father found himself in a heated controversy afar backing a plan for SLU to rework or get rid of tenure.

The tension has only escalated in recent weeks.

In a report the faculty senate released April 24, a task force responsible for identifying issues with the school’s financial and academic management described the need for a change in university leadership.

“Increasing student debt, a decline in research funding, the need to develop new technologies suited to the information age, and the need to attract and retain talented faculty and students require a different type of leader,” the report read. “The ‘my way or the highway’ management style to which Fr. Biondi admits may have been useful for bringing together a campus that was physically fractured, although it was never without cost to the shared governance valued by faculty. In the current environment, however, that management style—which…assumes that employees cannot be trusted to provide meaningful input to the organization–is eroding the academic mission and the Jesuit character of the integrated university Fr. Biondi built….”

After Father Biondi and the Board of Trustees failed to meet with faculty last week, students and faculty joined in protest over the lack of communication with the school’s administration.

A Facebook group named “SLU Students for No Confidence” had more than 1,300 likes as of Saturday night, when his resignation was announced.

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