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Father Burns agrees to five-year contract extension

February 15, 2022

Cardinal Update News Newsletters

The Very Rev. James P. Burns, IVD, Ph.D., has agreed to a contract extension as president of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota for an additional five-year term. The announcement comes from board chair Mr. Terry K. Russell B’76, on behalf of the Board of Trustees of Saint Mary’s.

According to Mr. Russell, “Saint Mary’s is on the move, thanks to the hard work of the entire faculty and staff under the thoughtful leadership of Father Burns. Managing through the ongoing pandemic has taken focus and an unwavering commitment to the common good. In this, Father Burns is truly a visionary who gets things done as he drives the university’s strategic plan, ‘Building a Future Full of Hope 2025.’ ” Mr. Russell and the board recognize Father Burns’ transformational approach and how it is reinvigorating all three campuses. “In Winona, Aquinas Hall has quickly become a renewed centerpiece on campus, creating a wonderful and welcoming environment for study, collaboration, and connection, enabling the university to offer new curricula, degrees, and programs,” said Mr. Russell. “Next is his work in re-envisioning the future of the Minneapolis Campus, which serves thousands of students from the Twin Cities and surrounding communities. The Rochester Campus will also be reinvigorated to serve the state’s third largest, and growing, city according to Mr. Russell.

He added, “We are so very blessed to have a priest as our president whose leadership approach focuses on our Catholic faith heritage with our Lasallian charism. Father Burns has been at the forefront of creating a transformational educational experience that serves all of our students as they prepare to serve and lead in an increasingly complex and ever-changing world.

“Saint Mary’s focus on character education, which is becoming the signature initiative at the university, is a strong example of the everyday transformation taking place. This effort, brought to Saint Mary’s by Father Burns, has garnered national attention and significant philanthropic support.”

In agreeing to the extension. Father Burns said, “It is good to be able to work collectively with the board, faculty, and staff to advance our strategic plan and solidify our future — a future I very much believe is full of hope. Our commitment to Lasallian Catholic education remains our north star. Our mission is compelling, and our vision guides us in all we do. Employees, community leaders, students, and their families are seeking the very thing we deliver — a holistic and transformative human and Christian education, one that is student-centered because it is Christ-centered. We seek to prepare students for work, service, and leadership by guiding them in the discovery of truth, beauty, and goodness; helping them find their purpose.”

Father Burns became the 14th president of Saint Mary’s in July 2018. Because of his ability to navigate challenges with agility, the progress made to date on the strategic plan, his bold and creative leadership, his unwavering commitment to excellence, and his clear, targeted focus on our Catholic tradition, as well as the desire for continuity in leadership at this critical juncture in Saint Mary’s history, the board of trustees expedited the decision to extend the president’s contract for an additional term. The new contract runs through 2028. The board unanimously and enthusiastically agreed to the contract extension.