by Cori Hilsgen
Local St. Joseph resident Stanley Idzerda died Aug. 6. Idzerda, 93, was the College of St. Benedict’s eighth president from 1968-1974. He was the first lay and first male president at the college.
Idzerda was not from this area and was not Benedictine and really promoted and encouraged the college to grow during his tenure. Enrollment at CSB almost doubled during Idzerda’s third year as president.
Throughout Idzerda’s tenure at CSB, new programs in nursing, East Asian studies, physical therapy and liberal studies were added to the current 29 majors. CSB’s first study abroad program, summer classes and employment of student workers began under his leadership. It was also during his presidency that the Benedictine Academy, the high school, closed in 1973 because of rising costs and declining enrollment.
Idzerda was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. As a child, he worked with his father on the fishing boat that was their family business. He joined the Navy ROTC program at Notre Dame and was on the USS Arizona ship bombed at Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Idzerda married his wife, Geraldine, in Ohio in 1945 and earned a PhD in history at Western Reserve University in 1951. He converted to Catholicism as an adult.
Idzerda was a man who believed in speaking his mind and wanted other people to speak theirs also, according to Annette Atkins “Challenging Women Since 1913.”
Idzerda, his wife and their seven children moved to St. Joseph in 1968 when he became the CSB president. After retiring as CSB president, he returned to CSB as a history professor and taught until 1990. CSB recently honored his leadership at a critical time in the college’s history by naming the Idzerda Community Center in Centennial Commons.
CSB president MaryAnn Baenninger said Idzerda was inspirational to her.
“Dr. Idzerda’s leadership was transformational for the College of St. Benedict and inspirational for me as a president of the college,” Baenninger said in a news release. “I’m so pleased we were able to celebrate the 100th birthday of the college with him in June and the dedication of Idzerda Community Center in July. Dr. Idzerda’s legacy will continue through the success of the college he loved and the alumnae his leadership touched.”
A mass of Christian Burial will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 17 in the Sacred Heart Chapel at St. Benedict’s Monastery. Visitation will be held at the Chapel beginning at 9 a.m.
Hilsgen is a contributing reporter for the Newsleaders. The central Minnesota native is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Management and Communication from Concordia University – St. Paul, MN and enjoys learning about and sharing other people's stories through the pages of the Newsleaders.
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