Lawrence Biondi

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Lawrence Biondi S.J., President Emeritus of Saint Louis University since 2013.

Lawrence Biondi, S.J., is the President Emeritus of Saint Louis University. He served as university president from August 1987 to September 2013.


A Chicago native, Biondi graduated from St. Ignatius College Preparatory School. Before joining the Jesuit order's Chicago Province in 1973, Biondi taught French and Latin at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, from 1965 to 1967.

Biondi holds six degrees. His master's degree in linguistics (1966) and his doctorate in sociolinguistics (1975) both were conferred by Georgetown University. He has three degrees from Loyola University Chicago and a licentiate in sacred theology from the Jesuit School of Theology at Chicago.

Tenure at Saint Louis University[edit]

In a 2012 interview Biondi said, “My vision of my legacy is for SLU to be the finest Catholic university in the United States.”[1] At the age of 73, Biondi said he wanted to remain president of the university beyond 2018, the year of SLU's bicentennial.[2] In 2012, Biondi marked his 25th year as President of SLU. His time at SLU had witnessed improvements in several areas.[3][4] On May 4, 2013, Biondi announced his intention to retire as president of Saint Louis University.[5] On September 1, 2013, Biondi stepped down as president of Saint Louis University following his public admission in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch of having retaliated against outspoken faculty by cutting their pay increases. [6][7]

1986-1987 2012-2013
Average ACT score of entering freshmen 22.7 27.2[8]
Student-to-teacher ratio 16 to 1 12 to 1
Endowed chairs and professorships 16 64
Full-time ranked faculty 718 1297
Number of freshmen 1,077 1,604
Total student body 9,869 13,981
Students living on campus 1,992 3,798
Research funding $8.96 million $51 million
University endowment $93 million $890 million
Net assets $504.3 million $1.4 billion
Doctorates awarded 94 166

The campus itself had expanded significantly in his twenty years. Among the largest expansions are the Chaifetz Arena and the Doisy Research Center.

1987 2009
SLU-owned Buildings 62 131
SLU-owned acres in Midtown St. Louis 113 286
SLU public safety officers 53 103

Awards and honors[edit]

Biondi earned the Council for Advancement and Support of Education's Chief Executive Leadership Award.[9] He is a member of the American Society of the Italian Legions of Merit and has been conferred with the rank and title of Cavaliere, Order of Merit, Republic of Italy.[10]

In 1999, Biondi won the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Arthritis Foundation, Eastern Missouri Chapter. In 2001, The St. Louis Ambassadors honored Biondi with the Leon R. Strauss Urban Pioneer Award, which is given to an individual in the St. Louis community who has contributed greatly to the development, restoration or improvement of St. Louis.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch named Biondi one of St. Louis' "Citizens of the Century" in 1999 and Citizen of the Year in 2005. The St. Louis Business Journal has also honored Biondi, recognizing him in 2006 him as one of only 10 "legends"—individuals "who have gone beyond being influential to become legends in our region and beyond." [11]

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) of St. Louis in 2011 honored Biondi with John D. Levy Human Relations Award[12] and in 2012 the Ladue News named him among the "Top-10 Most Dynamic People in St. Louis." [13]

St. Louis Mayor Francis G. Slay awarded Biondi with the 2013 Mayor's Award in recognition of his impact on economic development in the city of St. Louis. The University had a major impact on the region's economy during Biondi's tenure. An independent study found that SLU generated $715.5 million in economic impact and supported more than 6,800 jobs throughout the region during 2011 alone.[14]

Criticism and Controversy[edit]

Biondi was a controversial figure over the span of his presidency. When asked about his approach to leadership for accomplishing his bold vision, Biondi has said he is a "my-way-or-the-highway kind of guy."[2] Members of Saint Louis University's student body criticized him for decisions related to student organizations, housing, and a lack of accessibility and accountability. Other complaints have arisen around decisions such as banning the Vagina Monologues from campus,.[15]

In 2004, a St. Louis newspaper described Biondi as "SLU's No Confidence Man."[16] Centering on issues about shared governance with regard to an increase in parking fees, SLU's Student Government Association passed a motion of no confidence in Biondi on March 30, 1999.[17] During the same period, SLU's Faculty Senate tabled but did not vote on a motion of no confidence in Biondi.[18] In addition, student and faculty governance bodies at SLU threatened but did not finally act upon no-confidence measures in Biondi in 2002, 2004, 2009, and 2010.[19][20] [21]

In October, 2012, the Faculty Council of the College of Arts and Science and then the University's Faculty Senate voted no confidence in Fr. Biondi.[22] The primary reason for the votes of no confidence against Biondi was his adamant support for Vice President-Academic Affairs Manoj Patankar and Patankar's controversial and widely unsupported proposed policies regarding faculty evaluations. [23] As the no confidence movement against Biondi grew, faculty voiced other grievances, including Biondi's disregard for shared governance, the University's declining academic rankings, low alumni giving, and "a pervasive culture of fear."[24][25] SLU's Student Government Association voted no-confidence in Biondi the following day.[26]

The votes came after turmoil on campus early in the 2012-2013 academic year, first with the abrupt resignation of the dean of the school of law and then with the release of propose policy changes in faculty evaluations by Vice President-Academic Affairs Patankar. In August 2012, the School of Law Dean Dr. Annette Clark resigned in protest over Biondi's transfer of more than $800,000 from law school funds to The President's Opportunity Fund and over disputes with Biondi and Patankar about funding of law professors' academic research.[27] Biondi and Patankar said that they had intended to fire Clark before her resignation.[28] On the heels of Clark's resignation, campus dissension erupted with the release of Vice President Patankar's proposed policies on faculty evaluations which were ill-conceived in their attempt to apply uniform metrics in evaluating faculty with diverse areas of expertise and controversial for their unabashed attempt to weaken the status of tenure at Saint Louis University. The controversy over the proposed policies prompted a vote of no confidence by the Faculty Senate against Patankar--a vote upon which Biondi staunchly refused to act. [29][30]

Trapped in Lebanon[edit]

Biondi was trapped in Lebanon during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon Conflict. He was removed from the conflict after boarding a Greek-owned, American funded vessel to Cyprus with other Americans stranded there. He was able to return to St. Louis safely.


  1. ^ Graesser, Laura (2012-01-26). "Fr. Lawrence Biondi: Midtown's Spirit - Ladue News: Society". Ladue News. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  2. ^ a b "Biondi: 25 Years – Architect of change, bulldog for progress - St. Louis Business Journal". 2012-08-10. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  3. ^ "Gala to Mark 25 Years of Progress at Saint Louis University". 
  4. ^ "Fact Book". 
  5. ^ "Biondi announces he will leave SLU". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. May 5, 2013. 
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Fast Facts about SLU
  9. ^ "Biondi Chosen CASE Chief Executive of the Year". 
  10. ^ "Biography of Lawrence Biondi, S.J.". 
  11. ^ "". 
  12. ^ "AJC to honor SLU’s Biondi with Levy Human Relations Award". St. Louis Jewish Light. May 25, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Home Society Fr. Lawrence Biondi: Midtown's Spirit". The Ladue News. January 26, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Father Biondi Receives 2013 Mayor's Award". 
  15. ^ Benanti, Diana. "‘Vagina Monologues’ may have taken last bow". The University News. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  16. ^ Malcolm Gay (2004-04-28). "Biondi Issues - Page 1 - News - St. Louis". Riverfront Times. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  17. ^ "`No Confidence’ Vote Results In Little Action By Board Of Trustees | The University News". 1999-07-08. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Dispute over power not new to SLU | The University News". 2004-04-22. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  20. ^ "Faculty Senate indicates it wants to ‘move on’ | The University News". 2010-02-06. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  21. ^ "Strange Days at Saint Louis University | The University News". 2010-04-28. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  22. ^ Barker, Tim (2012-10-31). "St. Louis University faculty votes no confidence in the Rev. Lawrence Biondi : News". Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Pdf : SLU Senate Faculty letter to Board of Trustees". 2012-10-31. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  25. ^ "Google Drive Viewer". Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  26. ^ "St. Louis University student government group votes 'no confidence' in Biondi : News". 2012-11-01. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  27. ^ "SLU Law Dean Annette Clark's Resignation Letter 8-8-2012". From Retrieved $1 $2.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  28. ^ "Special Message From the President 8-8-12". From Retrieved $1 $2.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  29. ^
  30. ^

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