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Celebrating traditions, looking to the future: St. Scholastica inaugurates new president

Christopher Dolan, chairman of the board of trustees of the College of St. Scholastica (right), congratulates new St. Scholastica President Colette McCarrick Geary after he presented her with the Presidential Medallion during the inauguration ceremony at the college on Friday. Bob King / 1 / 3
Sister Kathleen Del Monte speaks to the assembled crowd at the inauguration ceremony at the College of St. Scholastica on Friday. Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com2 / 3
College of St. Scholastica alumni and staff applaud during the inauguration ceremony for new college President Colette McCarrick Geary held at the Reif Gymnasium on campus Friday. Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com3 / 3

Nearly 1,000 people gathered at the College of St. Scholastica on Friday as CSS inaugurated its first female president in 40 years.

Colette McCarrick Geary is St. Scholastica's 12th president and also is the college's first non-ordained female president. She started in the role on July 1, replacing Dr. Larry Goodwin, who led the college for 18 years.

In her inaugural speech Friday, Geary spoke about the Benedictine traditions of hospitality, community and respect. She said those traditions will continue to be the driving force as CSS moves forward.

"We are joyful in the work that lies open to us today, because we are filled with hope for its promise for tomorrow," Geary said in her speech. "It is a privilege for me to join with this community as we build upon our remarkable history, and write the next chapter of the story of the College of St. Scholastica."

The inauguration began with a procession of about 200 people including faculty, staff, members of the Board of Trustees, flagbearers, guest speakers and delegates from other colleges and universities. Two bagpipers led the procession into the Reif Gymnasium and toward the stage.

Community leaders, alumni and sisters from from the St. Scholastica Monastery also attended.

Christopher Dolan, chairman of the St. Scholastica Board of Trustees, gave Geary a ceremonial President's Medallion. Geary will don the medallion at ceremonial functions.

Duluth Mayor Emily Larson, a 1995 CSS graduate, spoke Friday on behalf of CSS alumni.

"We expect great things and we know that you will deliver," Larson said. "It is clear to me that you bring a vision and a path of your own. And this community, this entire community, will benefit."

Stephanie Peters, president of the CSS Student Senate, said Geary already has made a positive connection with the student body.

"You've only just started this July and you've already had an impact at the College of St. Scholastica," Peters said. "It is a pleasure for me to have such an incredible role model."

Sister Beverly Raway, prioress of St. Scholastica Monastery, said Geary impressed the sisters with her attention to the monastery's mission and values.

"Above all, we were captivated by your sincerity," Raway said. "For the sisters and for me, there is already a heartfelt connection."

Other speakers included Ryan Sandefer, Faculty Assembly chairman; Kathleen Annette, president and CEO of Blandin Foundation and a White Earth Band of Ojibwe member; Paul Cerkvenik, president of the Minnesota Private College Council; and Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington D.C.

Geary previously was the senior vice president for strategic initiatives at the College of New Rochelle in New Rochelle, N.Y. Geary has a Ph.D. in psychology; she and her husband have three adult daughters.

Geary said the College of St. Scholastica has a bright and exciting future that is committed to diversity.

"While we draw inspiration from our rich past, " Geary said, "our eyes must also always be on the future horizon."