Biography of Lawrence Biondi, S.J.
Father Biondi has been a professor, a department chairman and a dean. But today he is best known as the visionary president of Saint Louis University and founder of the modern SLU. As president, Father Biondi is the chief executive officer of the institution and oversees the University's mission of education in the Catholic, Jesuit tradition. He leads a university that enrolls more than 14,000 students on two campuses and boasts institutional assets totaling $1.8 billion.
Since his inauguration in 1987, Father Biondi has led Saint Louis University through a remarkable era of transformation and achievement. In addition to modernizing the campus and helping revitalize the surrounding Midtown neighborhood, Father Biondi has committed vast University resources to academics, student scholarships and financial aid, faculty research and state-of-the-art technology. During his tenure, he has focused on recruiting the finest faculty and students, increasing the University's academic standards and achievements, and developing the University as a major research center.
Highlights of Father Biondi's tenure include:
- The successful completion of fundraising and capital campaigns totalling more than $785 million.
- The investment of an estimated $850 million in improvements, enhancements and expansions.
- An increase in the size of SLU's midtown campus from 113 acres with 62 buildings to 268 acres with 131 buildings.
- Completion of the $82 million Edward A. Doisy Research Center in 2007. The state-of-the-art, LEED-certified facility offers SLU's world-class researchers a world-class home.
- Construction of the $81 million on-campus Chaifetz Arena in 2008. The 10,600-seat, multipurpose facility has dramatically enhanced the student experience and is home to SLU's basketball teams. It also is a stunning new attraction in St. Louis for other sporting events, concerts, shows and conferences.
- Construction of the Health Sciences Education Union, Medical Center Stadium, Hotel Ignacio, John and Lucy Cook Hall, McDonnell Douglas Hall, Doisy College of Health Sciences and the Center for Advanced Dental Education, as well as the renovation and expansion of Busch Student Center, among many other projects.
- An increase of the University's endowment from $93 million to $852.8 million (as of June 30, 2012).
- The upgrade of the University's credit rating: AA-/Stable (Standard and Poors); A1/Positive (Moody's).
- The classification of SLU as a research institution by the Carnegie Foundation.
- The top-100 ranking of 24 undergraduate and graduate academic programs by U.S News & World Report.
- The addition of faculty positions, lowering the student-faculty ratio to 12-to-1 and reducing the average class size to 23.6 students.
- An increase in the number of endowed chairs to 42 and named professorships to 22, drawing and retaining the nation's leading professors in their respective fields.
- The establishment of new academic, service, leadership and diversity scholarships. In 2011, SLU provided a record $322.8 million in scholarship funding.
- An increase in the total number of students from 9,869 to 13,981.
- An increase of the average ACT score of entering freshmen from 22.7 in 1987 to 27.2 in 2012.
- The appointment of the first female provost at any Jesuit university.
- Recognition as a character-building college by The Templeton Guide: Colleges That Encourage Character Development.
- The establishment of the Center for World Health & Medicine, an innovative initiative dedicated to addressing critical health concerns in developing nations.
- The launch of the first Center for Sustainability at a Jesuit university.
- The creation of the first Campus Kitchen in the United States, which has served more than 125,000 meals during its first five years.
- The expansion and enhancement of Saint Louis University's Madrid campus as the first foreign university to be recognized officially by Spain's Ministry of Higher Education.
Born Dec. 15, 1938, in Chicago, Father Biondi attended Catholic elementary and secondary schools before entering the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus in 1957. He was ordained as a priest in 1970.
Father Biondi holds six degrees. His master's degree in linguistics (1966) and his doctorate in sociolinguistics (1975) 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 in Chicago. In addition, Father Biondi has pursued non-degree language studies in French, Italian, Polish, Russian and Spanish. He has published four books and holds a certificate from Harvard University's Institute for Educational Management. Before coming to Saint Louis University, Father Biondi was dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Loyola University Chicago.
Widely considered one of the most influential people in the region, Father Biondi was named St. Louis' "Citizen of the Year" in 2005 by past recipients of the award sponsored by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Readers of the newspaper also tapped him as one of St. Louis' "Citizens of the Century" in 1999.
In 2006, the St. Louis Business Journal honored him as one of only 10 "legends" -- individuals "who have gone beyond being influential to become legends in our region and beyond." And, in 2011, Father Biondi earned the John D. Levy Human Relations Award from the American Jewish Committee (AJC) of St. Louis, which honors leaders who "have applied their leadership, creativity and commitment to service to make St. Louis a better place." In 2012, a local publication, the Ladue News, named him one of the year's "Top-10 Most Dynamic People in St. Louis."
Committed to urban renewal, Father Biondi has played a significant role in the redevelopment of Midtown St. Louis and Grand Center, the city's arts and entertainment district. He has earned the prestigious St. Louis Award for his outstanding service to the city's development and the Leon R. Strauss Urban Pioneer Award for contributing greatly to the development, restoration and improvement of St. Louis. He also received a lifetime achievement award from MOKAN, a regional organization dedicated to minority inclusion on construction projects.
Father Biondi is recognized as a key leader in higher education, earning a Chief Executive Leadership Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). He also has served on the boards of numerous local and national organizations and currently is a board member of Civic Progress of St. Louis, The Missouri Botanical Garden, Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, Atlantic 10 Conference, Rockhurst University, and Saint Louis University. He has served on the boards of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, Saint Louis Symphony, Saint Louis Zoo, Saint Louis Art Museum, the Epilepsy Foundation of America, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, Santa Clara University, Loyola University Chicago, Loyola College Baltimore and Xavier University.
The President of Italy has conferred upon him the rank and title of Cavaliere, Order of Merit, Republic of Italy. He also is a member of the American Society of the Italian Legions of Merit.