Lawrence Biondi

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The Reverend Lawrence H. Biondi of the Society of Jesus, is the President Emeritus of Saint Louis University. He currently resides in St. Louis with his two Golden Retrievers, Iggy and Angelo.

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 76)
Chicago, Illinois
Nationality American Italian
Denomination Roman Catholic
Parents Hugo and Albertina Biondi

Early life[edit]

Born in Chicago, Illinois as the son of Hugo and Albertina Biondi and brother to Roy and Anna Marie. He studied at St. Ignatius College Preparatory School where he first became interested in the Society of Jesus.


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.

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.

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]

Throughout his 26 years as president, Fr. Biondi received great praise and acknowledgement for his work in advancing Saint Louis University and for his efforts in the revitalization of Midtown St. Louis. He has been recognized as an individual committed to the betterment of the Metropolitan St. Louis community through development, restoration, and improvement of land surrounding the Saint Louis University campus.

  • 1984 Listed in the Marquis Who's Who in America
  • 1985
  • 1988 Senior Dinosaur Award, Saint Louis University Football Dinosaurs
  • 1991 The 12th Man Award, Friends of SLU Soccer
  • 1992 Outstanding Public Interest Award, Missouri Public Interest Research Group
  • 1993
  • 1994 Faith in Action Award, Lutheran Family and Children's Services of Missouri
  • 1995
    • Founders Award, Conference USA
    • Brotherhood Sisterhood Award, The National Conference for Community and Justice of Metropolitan St. Louis [10]
  • 1996
    • Goldstein/Fleishman Geriatric Excellence Award, Jewish Center for Aged
    • Ambassador of the Year Award, St. Louis Ambassadors
  • 1997
    • Tree of Life Award, Jewish National Fund of America
    • Man of the Year Award, The Italian Club of St. Louis
    • Equality Award, Human Rights Campaign
    • House of Peace Award, Friedens House
    • The Spirit of St. Louis Award, Matthew-Dickey Boys' Club
    • Civic Award for Spiritual and Academic Excellence, The Italian Club of St. Louis
  • 1998 Community Leadership Award, St. Louis Bar Foundation
  • 1999
    • St. Louis Citizen of the Century, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch
    • Humanitarian Award, Arthritis Foundation - Eastern Missouri Chapter
  • 2001
    • St. Louis Award, City of St. Louis
    • Leon R. Strauss Urban Pioneer Award, The St. Louis Ambassadors
    • Chief Executive Leadership Award, Council for Advancement and Support of Education [11]
  • 2002
    • The Grand Order of Dr. Filippo Mazzei Civis Illustrious Americanism Award, UNICO National
    • The Right Balance, Tenet Leadership
  • 2003 Mary Breummer Award, Saint Louis University Student Government Association
  • 2004
    • Mayor John H. Poelker Award, Coro Foundation
    • Community Service Award, Vashon/JeffVanderLou Initiative
    • The Modern Patriot Award, The St. Louis Chapter of the Sons of the Revolution
  • 2005 St. Louis Citizen of the Year, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  • 2006 Diversity Excellence and Advocacy Award, St. Louis Council of Construction Consumers
    • Listed as a Top-10 Legend, St. Louis Business Journal [12]
  • 2007
    • Lifetime Achievement Award for Commitment to Diversity, MOKAN
    • Excellence in the Field of Education Award, St. Ignatius College Preparatory School
    • Cedars Award, St. Raymond's Maronite Cathedral
  • 2008 Princeton Award for Service to the Community, Princeton Club of St. Louis
  • 2010 Listed in the Most Influential St. Louisans: Educators, St. Louis Business Journal
  • 2011
    • John D. Levy Human Relations Award, St. Louis American Jewish Committee [13]
    • Listed in the Most Influential St. Louisans, St. Louis Business Journal
  • 2012
    • Listed in the Top-10 Most Dynamic People in St. Louis, The Ladue News [14]
    • Civic Award of the Year, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan St. Louis
    • The Most Beloved SLU President Award, SLU Alumni Club in Thailand
    • 2013 Mayor's Award, Francis G. Slay, Mayor of St. Louis [15]



  • Biondi, S.J., Lawrence. A Comparative Study of Tagmemic and Stratificational Grammars. Master's thesis, Georgetown University, 1966


  • Biondi, S.J., Lawrence. The Linguistic Development and Socialization of Italian-American Children in Boston’s North End. Doctoral Dissertation, Georgetown University, 1974


  • Biondi, S.J., Lawrence. The Italian-American Child: His Sociolinguistic Acculturation. Georgetown University Press, Washington, D.C., 1975
  • Biondi, S.J., Lawrence (Editor). Poland’s Church-State Relations. Loyola University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 1981
  • Biondi, S.J., Lawrence (Co-editor). Spain's Church-Relations. Loyola University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, 1983
  • Biondi, S.J., Lawrence (Co-editor). Poland’s Solidarity Movement. Loyola University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, 1984


  • Biondi, S.J., Lawrence. An English Teacher's Dilemma: How to Teach English Auxiliaries. Word Study, 1969, 20, 1-3
  • Biondi, S.J., Lawrence. Italian-American Ethnic Studies in American Institutions of Higher Learning. Proceedings of the Symposium on Ethnicity in America. University of New York at Albany, Albany, New York, 1917
  • Biondi, S.J., Lawrence. Interning: Practical Experience for the Undergraduate Bilingual Student. ADFL (Association of Departments of Foreign Languages Journal), 1980, 11, 41-42

Book Reviews[edit]

  • Biondi, S.J., Lawrence. Poles in America by Frank Mocha in Quarterly of the Polish Western Association of America, 1979, 41 (4), 13-15

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 said his 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 arose around decisions such as banning the Vagina Monologues from campus.[16]

In 2004, a St. Louis newspaper described Biondi as "SLU's No Confidence Man".[17] 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.[18] During the same period, SLU's Faculty Senate tabled but did not vote on a motion of no confidence in Biondi.[19] 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.[20][21] [22]

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.[23] 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.[24] 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."[25][26] SLU's Student Government Association voted no-confidence in Biondi the following day.[27]

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.[28] Biondi and Patankar said that they had intended to fire Clark before her resignation.[29] 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.[30][31]

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. ^ "Biography of Lawrence Biondi, S.J.". 
  10. ^ "Brotherhood Sisterhood Award Recipients - Past Recipients - NCCJ St. Louis". NCCJ St. Louis. 
  11. ^ "Biondi Chosen CASE Chief Executive of the Year". 
  12. ^ "". 
  13. ^ "AJC to honor SLU’s Biondi with Levy Human Relations Award". St. Louis Jewish Light. May 25, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Home Society Fr. Lawrence Biondi: Midtown's Spirit". The Ladue News. January 26, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Father Biondi Receives 2013 Mayor's Award". 
  16. ^ Benanti, Diana. "‘Vagina Monologues’ may have taken last bow". The University News. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  17. ^ Malcolm Gay (2004-04-28). "Biondi Issues - Page 1 - News - St. Louis". Riverfront Times. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  18. ^ "`No Confidence’ Vote Results In Little Action By Board Of Trustees | The University News". 1999-07-08. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Dispute over power not new to SLU | The University News". 2004-04-22. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  21. ^ "Faculty Senate indicates it wants to ‘move on’ | The University News". 2010-02-06. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  22. ^ "Strange Days at Saint Louis University | The University News". 2010-04-28. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  23. ^ Barker, Tim (2012-10-31). "St. Louis University faculty votes no confidence in the Rev. Lawrence Biondi : News". Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  24. ^
  25. ^ "Pdf : SLU Senate Faculty letter to Board of Trustees". 2012-10-31. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  26. ^ "Google Drive Viewer". Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  27. ^ "St. Louis University student government group votes 'no confidence' in Biondi : News". 2012-11-01. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  28. ^ "SLU Law Dean Annette Clark's Resignation Letter 8-8-2012" (PDF). From Retrieved 9 August 20112.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  29. ^ "Special Message From the President 8-8-12" (PDF). From Retrieved 9 August 20112.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  30. ^
  31. ^

External links[edit]