by Cori Hilsgen
Mary Hinton has been chosen to be the 15th president of the College of St. Benedict. She will replace MaryAnn Baenninger, who plans to leave her position in June. Baenninger has served as president for 10 years.
Hinton is currently vice president for academic affairs at Mount St. Mary College in Newburgh, N.Y. She will begin her new position July 1. She and her family will be welcomed to campus June 15.
The CSB Board of Trustees voted unanimously to hire Hinton. Lynn Newman, chair of the board of trustees and a co-chair of the presidential search committee, made the announcement March 19.
“The CSB Board of Trustees was impressed with Dr. Hinton’s breadth and depth of experience as a scholar and senior-level administrator in higher education,” Newman said in a news release. “Her commitment to residential, liberal-arts education is evident, and her passion for the advancement of women and her belief in our Benedictine values align well with the CSB mission. We are confident she will be an outstanding president of CSB.”
In the release, Hinton said she is humbled by the chance to lead an institution with such a powerful liberal-arts tradition that is grounded in the Benedictine values of the founding order.
“CSB was built by strong and courageous women who knew the value of educating women and who celebrated and engaged both their intellectual and spiritual lives,” she said.
Hinton was on campus during the February snow storm, and the campus was closed the second day of her interview at CSB.
In a phone interview with The Newsleader, Neuman said Hinton came to the interview extremely well prepared and was very impressive. The board felt she had a really good understanding of challenges facing higher education and how CSB might deal with some of them.
“She has a very warm and authentic style of communicating,” Neuman said.
At Mount St. Mary College, a Dominican college, Hinton provides senior administrative leadership for academic affairs, enrollment management, planning and more.
Her leadership oversaw the development of the Center of Student Success, a program that improves student retention through comprehensive support services. Hinton also leads the college’s Strategic Planning and Budgeting Committee.
Before working at Mount St. Mary College, Hinton was the associate vice president of academic affairs and chief planning and diversity officer at Misericordia University in Dallas, Penn. She was also a member of the Mercy Integration Council. Prior to that, Hinton served as an assistant professor of religious studies and the coordinator of multicultural student affairs at Misericordia.
She was named one of the “Top 25 Businesswomen of Northeast Pennsylvania” in 2011 and was also an award recipient of “Great Women of Northeastern Pennsylvania” in 2010.
Hinton’s career also includes non-profit education organization management and corporate philanthropic work. She was also a private elementary school teacher.
Hinton earned a doctoral degree in religion and religious education with high honors from Fordham University, N.Y., a master’s degree in clinical child psychology from the University of Kansas, Lawrence, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Williams College, Mass.
The news release included comments from provost Rita Knuesel and St. John’s University President Michael Hemesath.
“Dr. Hinton has dedicated her entire career to education and therefore has developed a keen understanding of the changing landscape of higher education in the United States,” Knuesel said. “She is a visionary who is able to draw on her professional education and background to articulate the significance of the liberal arts as well as professional programs.”
“I am delighted St. Ben’s has chosen Dr. Hinton as its next president,” Hemesath said. “She is the perfect combination of scholar and administrator, and I look forward to working closely with her to advance both St. Ben’s and St. John’s and our coordinate relationship.”
Hinton’s appointment comes at a time when CSB will complete its centennial year in May.
Diane Hageman, CSB interim co-director of communication and marketing services, said CSB believes Hinton is the first person of color to lead a Minnesota private college.
Hinton and her husband, Robert Williams, and their children, Hallela, 14, Hillel, 12, and Hosanna, 9,plan to make their home at CSB’s presidential residence, the Renner House.
Hinton made her first appearance on the CSB campus on March 26 in the Gorecki Conference Center and spoke to an audience of more than 200 people.
Hageman said Hinton was met with a standing ovation by the audience, which included students, faculty, staff, board members and area residents.
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.