ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - Fr. Lawrence Biondi, president of Saint Louis University, will retire effective Sept. 1.
The announcement was made Friday by SLU Board of Trustees Chairman J. Joe Adorjan. He says Biondi will be named president emeritus and will take a one year sabbatical.
Biondi announced in May he would step down after serving the university for 25 years. The made the announcement at his anniversary celebration in front of a crowd of 800 alumni and supporters at Chaifetz Arena.
"Father Biondi has let me know of his desire to make a change and to help us transition to interim leadership as we begin the search for the next president of SLU this fall," Adorjan said. "I have the greatest respect and admiration for Father Biondi and for all that he has done for SLU, and I am hopeful that as we soon begin the search for his successor that he can continue to provide his knowledge and insight to the Board. We all owe a great debt of gratitude to Father for giving so much of himself to make SLU the outstanding and respected institution it is."
Over the last few years some students and faculty voiced their frustration with a campus atmosphere they called fearful and disrespectful. They were upset over what they called a failed plan to revamp the tenure system and poor communication.
In 2012 both the SLU Faculty Senate and student government made votes of "no confidence" against Biondi.
Despite the controversy, campus enrollment nearly doubled during Biondi's time as president, and the size of campus more than doubled.
SLU Vice President and General Counsel William Kauffman has been named interim president and will serve the 2013-2014 academic year. Adorjan says Kauffman will not be a candidate for the presidency.
The Office of the Chairman has been established by the Board of Trustees to support Kauffman while he serves as interim president. The office will be staffed with the following five senior administrators: Dr. Ellen Harshman, vice president of academic affairs; Dr. Philip Alderson, vice president of medical affairs; David Heimburger, vice president and chief financial officer; Bridget Fletcher, vice president of administration' and Dr. Kent Porterfield, vice president of student development.
Adorjan says he plans to begin the search for the next SLU president immediately following the Sept. 28 meeting of the Board of Trustees, during which a search committee will be named, comprised of trustees and representatives of SLU faculty, staff, and students.