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Office of the President

For more than 100 years, Saint Mary's has been blessed with great leaders.

We are here because of people with rare qualities – all of them moved to build and nature a university with Lasallian Catholic principles at its core. These people were inspired to serve, and we acknowledge them with gratitude.

Father James P. Burns, IVD, Ph.D.

The Very Rev. James P. Burns, IVD, Ph.D., has served as president of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota since 2018. Burns’ leadership is focused on delivering quality education founded in the university’s Lasallian Catholic mission, which calls for a practical education rooted in character formation and a deep grounding in liberal arts.


Burns is chair of the MIAC Presidents’ Committee for the 2022/2023 term and on the NCAA Division III President’s Advisory Group, holding a four-year term. He is also the major superior of his religious community, Voluntas Dei Institute, and is a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Prior to Saint Mary’s, his previous leadership roles included dean of the Woods College of Advancing Studies at Boston College, and assistant and associate professorships in graduate psychology at the University of St. Thomas and Boston College. The president received his undergraduate degree in accounting and graduate degree in counseling psychology, both from the University of St. Thomas. He went on to earn a doctorate in counseling psychology from Northeastern University with pre- and post-doctoral fellowships at Yale and Harvard.

Find us...

  • Martin de Porres Hall

    2500 Park Ave

    Minneapolis, MN 55404-4403

    • 612-728-5123
    • Hours: Monday–Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

  • Heffron Hall, Executive Office

    700 Terrace Heights #30

    Winona, MN 55987-1399

    • 507-457-1503
    • Hours: Monday–Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The President’s Cabinet

The cabinet serves in an advisory role to the president of the university regarding the administration of the university and planning for the future of Saint Mary’s.

The Board of Trustees

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota is governed by its board of trustees. The board has fiduciary responsibility for the governance of the university.

Advisory Boards

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota has assembled several advisory boards to articulate, grow, and clarify the vision of the areas they serve. Advisory boards also provide advocacy, guidance, and financial support to the president.


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  • We believe in the fundamental dignity of each person as created in the likeness and image of God. Our commitment to inclusion and human dignity is an integral part of our Lasallian Catholic heritage and history, founded in the teachings of St. John Baptist de la Salle, who created and led an inclusive, respectful community of teachers and learners committed to educational excellence and faith expressed through service.

    Visit Inclusion and Human Dignity

  • Ever since Saint John Baptist de la Salle introduced a new approach to education more than 300 years ago, the formation of the whole student has been at the heart of a Lasallian Catholic education. With a renewed focus on character and virtue education, Saint Mary’s continues to shape the lives of our students through holistic character development and the cultivation of intellectual, moral, and civic virtues.

    Visit Character and Virtue Education

  • The Saint Mary’s strategic plan creates a pathway to success for the university, a pathway that embraces our Lasallian Catholic heritage while remaining open to all people of good will; a pathway that manages our resources responsibly while creating capacity for innovation and entrepreneurship; a pathway that positions Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota to become a leader for regionally dominant and nationally prominent programs and services that emphasize excellence and competence.

    Learn more about the strategic plan

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