CSS Welcomes New President to Campus

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: May 30, 2019 06:00 PM

It was an exciting day at the College of St. Scholastica (CSS) Thursday with the announcement of the new president for the college.


Hundreds of students and staff gave Dr. Barbara McDonald a warm welcoming. She will be the 13th president of CSS. She also has history with CSS, she was an undergrad student there.

"I got my start here as a student many years ago so it's very special coming back and I look forward to working with faculty, students, staff, administration, and particularly the sisters in shaping the future of the college," Dr. McDonald, said.

Dr. McDonald is coming from North Hennepin Community College, where she's served as president since 2015. She earned a Doctor of Education, a Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Foreign Language, and a Bachelor of Arts in English. 

Staff and members of the Presidential Search Committee said Dr. McDonald was chosen based on her student-centered approach and wide-ranging experience in teaching, scholarship, administration, and international education. She has 22 years of experience in higher education in the state.

What members also said made her stand out is her deep understanding of Northeastern Minnesota. Dr. McDonald’s work within the Minnesota State system started at Rainy River Community College. She taught and served as faculty assessment and service learning coordinator.

She served in leadership roles in academic and student affairs at Itasca Community College. She also served as interim president at Minnesota West Community and Technical College.

Students who met her said she'll be a good fit and will lead the school in a great direction. At the announcement, Dr. McDonald said it feels good to be back in Duluth and thanked everyone for their support and hospitality.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed my time working for the state of Minnesota and serving the students. I’m looking forward to taking my love of learning and love of students to St. Scholastica with me,” Dr. McDonald, said.

"I think she brings a really great background, just really focusing on student development and student leadership. I think that was evident when she was here on campus meeting with students. We're super excited to have her in our college community and welcome her back home," Andrew Bailey, the president for the CSS Student Senate, said.

Some students had a chance to meet her prior to the announcement and said Dr. McDonald has a great vision for the college and is focused on listening to students concerns and needs.

"I actually sat in a lunch meeting with her and just her demeanor and the way she talks, her love for the students, I think it's really awesome and as a fellow woman it's always super empowering to see women in leadership positions," Mariah Lenz, a CSS student, said. 

"It's really exciting. As a student and member of this community to have somebody like Dr. McDonald come into the school,  she has such a great vision, it's very exciting and we're looking forward to having her in the fall," Xavier Witikko, a CSS student, said.

Dr. McDonald said she is well preppared for Duluth's cold winters. 

"I'm ready for the weather, bring it on! I lived in the ice box of the nation for three years up in International Falls, so I'm very familiar with northeast Minnesota weather. I've spent over 17 years of my life in northeast Minnesota so I'm ready for anything," Dr. McDonald said.

Dr. McDonald will succeed CSS president Colette Geary. In January she announced her departure to spend more time with her family. Geary has been president since July 2016.

Dr. McDonald will start as president of the college starting Aug. 5.


Alejandra Palacios

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