September 03, 2013

Thank you, Father Biondi

As SLU's president of 26 years retires, the University looks back at the remarkable era of progress and transformation he led.

Lawrence Biondi, S.J., retired as president of Saint Louis University on Sept. 1, 2013, after 26 years. He is the longest serving president in the University's nearly 200-year history. Now president emeritus, he is enjoying a yearlong sabbatical, during which he will continue his efforts to build national and international support for Saint Louis University.

Before coming to the University, Biondi had been a professor, a department chairman and a dean. But perhaps he will be best known as the visionary president and founder of the modern SLU.

Since his inauguration in 1987, Biondi led the University through a remarkable era of transformation and progress. He worked tirelessly to recruit the finest students, to increase the University's academic reputation, to establish SLU as a major research center, to modernize the campus and to help revitalize SLU's Midtown neighborhood.


1986-87 Year 2012-13 Year
Total Student Body 9,869 13,981
Size of the Freshman Class 1,077 1,618
Students Living on Campus 1,992 3,798
Avg. ACT Score of Freshman Class 22.7 27.2
Student-Teacher Ratio 16-1 12-1
Number of Fulltime Ranked Faculty 725 1,390
Endowed Chairs/Professorships 16 65

Additional highlights of Biondi's tenure include:
  • Growth of the Midtown Campus from 113 acres/62 buildings to 268 acres/131 buildings
  • The investment of an estimated $850 million in improvements, enhancements and expansions, including the $82 million Edward A. Doisy Research Center and $81 million on-campus Chaifetz Arena, among many other projects
  • The successful completion of fundraising and capital campaigns totaling more than $785 million
  • Growth of the endowment from $93 million to $980 million (as of Aug. 8, 2013)
  • Growth of research funding, from $8.9 million to $51 million
  • Classification of SLU as a major research institution by the Carnegie Foundation (1994)
  • The establishment of new academic, service, leadership and diversity scholarships. In 2012, SLU provided a record $339.1 million in scholarship funding.
  • Recognition as a character-building college by The Templeton Guide: Colleges That Encourage Character Development

Biondi's contributions to SLU and the St. Louis Metropolitan Region have been widely heralded. Here are just some of his many honors from the St. Louis area and beyond:

  • St. Louis Award, for his outstanding service to the city's development (2001)
  • Leon R. Strauss Urban Pioneer Award (2001)
  • Named St. Louis' "Citizen of the Year" (2005)
  • Honored by the St. Louis Business Journal as one of only 10 "legends" - those "who have gone beyond being influential to become legends in our region and beyond" (2006)
  • John D. Levy Human Relations Award from the American Jewish Committee of St. Louis, which honors leaders who "have applied their leadership, creativity and commitment to service to make St. Louis a better place" (2011)
  • Chief Executive Leadership Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (2001)
  • Rank and title of Cavaliere, Order of Merit, Republic of Italy, conferred upon him by the President of Italy (1985)

Bill Kauffman, J.D., SLU's vice president and general counsel, has been named interim president of the University. A national search for Biondi's permanent successor gets under way in September.

Saint Louis University is a Catholic, Jesuit institution that values academic excellence, life-changing research, compassionate health care, and a strong commitment to faith and service. Founded in 1818, the University fosters the intellectual and character development of more than 13,000 students on two campuses in St. Louis and Madrid, Spain. Building on a legacy of nearly 200 years, Saint Louis University continues to move forward with an unwavering commitment to a higher purpose, a greater good.

Higher purpose. Greater good.
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