Lawrence Biondi

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The Reverend
Lawrence H. Biondi
of the Society of Jesus
President Emeritus, Saint Louis University
Installed August 1987
Term ended September 2013
Predecessor Thomas R. Fitzgerald, S.J. (1979-87)
Successor Bill Kauffman, J.D. (interim, 2013-14)
Ordination June 11, 1970
Rank Priest
Personal details
Born (1938-12-15) December 15, 1938 (age 78)
Chicago, Illinois
Nationality American Italian
Denomination Roman Catholic
Parents Hugo and Albertina Biondi

The Reverend Lawrence H. Biondi of the Society of Jesus is the President Emeritus of Saint Louis University.

Early life[edit]

Born in Chicago, Illinois, he studied at St. Ignatius College Preparatory School where he first became interested in the Society of Jesus. 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 (A Comparative Study of Tagmemic and Stratificational Grammars, 1966) and his doctorate in sociolinguistics (The Linguistic Development and Socialization of Italian-American Children in Boston’s North End, 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.

President of Saint Louis University[edit]

In August 1987, Biondi was chosen to be succeed Thomas R. Fitzgerald, S.J. (1979-87) and be installed as the 31st President of Saint Louis University.

Biondi was a controversial figure over the span of his presidency. When asked about his approach to leadership for accomplishing his bold vision, Biondi said his is a "my-way-or-the-highway kind of guy."[1] 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 arose around decisions such as banning the Vagina Monologues from campus.[2]

In 2004, a St. Louis newspaper described Biondi as "SLU's No Confidence Man".[3] 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.[4] During the same period, SLU's Faculty Senate tabled but did not vote on a motion of no confidence in Biondi.[5] 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.[6][7] [8]

In a 2012 interview Biondi said, "My vision of my legacy is for SLU to be the finest Catholic university in the United States."[9] At the age of 73, he said he wanted to remain president of the university beyond 2018, the year of SLU's bicentennial.[1]

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.[10] 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.[11] 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."[12][13] SLU's Student Government Association voted no-confidence in Biondi the following day.[14]

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 for Academic Affairs Manoj 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.[15] Biondi and Patankar said that they had intended to fire Clark before her resignation.[16] 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.[17][18]

On May 4, 2013, Biondi announced his intention to retire as president,[19] and on September 1, 2013, he stepped down following his public admission in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch of having retaliated against outspoken faculty by cutting their pay increases.[20][21]



  • Biondi, Lawrence. The Italian-American Child: His Sociolinguistic Acculturation. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 1975.
  • Biondi, Lawrence. Poland's Church-State Relations, ed. Chicago: Loyola University of Chicago Press, 1981.
  • Biondi, Lawrence. Spain's Church-Relations, co-ed. Chicago: Loyola University of Chicago Press, 1983.
  • Biondi, Lawrence. Poland’s Solidarity Movement, co-ed. Chicago: Loyola University of Chicago Press, 1984.


  1. ^ a b "Biondi: 25 Years – Architect of change, bulldog for progress". St. Louis Business Journal. 2012-08-10. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  2. ^ Benanti, Diana. "'Vagina Monologues' may have taken last bow". The University News. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  3. ^ Malcolm Gay (2004-04-28). "Biondi Issues - Page 1 - News - St. Louis". Riverfront Times. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  4. ^ "`No Confidence' Vote Results In Little Action By Board Of Trustees | The University News". 1999-07-08. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Dispute over power not new to SLU | The University News". 2004-04-22. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  7. ^ "Faculty Senate indicates it wants to 'move on' | The University News". 2010-02-06. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  8. ^ "Strange Days at Saint Louis University | The University News". 2010-04-28. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  9. ^ Graesser, Laura (2012-01-26). "Fr. Lawrence Biondi: Midtown's Spirit". Ladue News. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  10. ^ Barker, Tim (2012-10-31). "St. Louis University faculty votes no confidence in the Rev. Lawrence Biondi : News". Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Pdf : SLU Senate Faculty letter to Board of Trustees". 2012-10-31. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  13. ^ "Google Drive Viewer". Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  14. ^ "St. Louis University student government group votes 'no confidence' in Biondi : News". 2012-11-01. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  15. ^ "SLU Law Dean Annette Clark's Resignation Letter 8-8-2012" (PDF). From Retrieved 9 August 2012. 
  16. ^ "Special Message From the President 8-8-12" (PDF). From Retrieved 9 August 2012. 
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Biondi announces he will leave SLU". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. May 5, 2013. 
  20. ^
  21. ^