Barbara McDonald was introduced as the 13th president of the College of St. Scholastica on Thursday on the school's main Duluth campus.
Since 2015, McDonald, 61, has been the president of North Hennepin Community College in the Twin Cities suburb of Brooklyn Park. Previously, she was interim president of Minnesota West Technical and Community College, which has five campuses in southwestern Minnesota.
McDonald formally steps into her new role Aug. 5.
"Dr. McDonald brings an extraordinary combination of presidential experience, a student-centered approach committed to inclusive excellence, an international perspective and a deep familiarity with the communities and educational needs of Northeastern Minnesota," said Chris Dolan, chairman of the school's Board of Trustees, in introductory remarks.
McDonald previously served as provost and dean of academic affairs at Itasca Community College in Grand Rapids. She has also held English faculty positions at Rainy River Community College in International Falls and at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
Thursday's announcement marked a return for McDonald to the College of St. Scholastica.
"I'm honored and humbled to have been selected to serve as St. Scholastica's 13th president and very excited about the work that lies ahead," McDonald said Thursday. "St. Scholastica is a very special place for me. As you've heard, I got my start here as a first-year student many, many years ago."
She went on to earn a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Colorado Boulder, a master's degree in teaching English as a foreign language from American University in Cairo (Egypt) and a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Minnesota.
"The college's vision is to develop thoughtful and engaged leaders, sharpened and sensitized by the liberal arts, who are prepared for and committed to serving and transforming the world," McDonald said. "I am thrilled to be joining such a talented group of employee eductors, faculty, staff and administration who are deeply committed to realizing this mission. Working collaboratively with you, we will excel in the areas of student success, closing the opportunity gap and preparing our students for responsible living and meaningful work at all levels of endeavor."
St. Scholastica, a private Catholic college based in Duluth, has more than 4,000 students with 1,667 full-time undergraduate students studying on its Duluth campus. The college has satellite campuses in Austin, Brainerd, Inver Grove Heights, Rochester, St. Cloud and St. Paul as well as an online program.
McDonald highlighted the school's growing reach in thanking the Benedictine Sisters of the St. Scholastica Monastery, the order that founded the College of St. Scholastica in 1912 and still shares a campus with the school.
"The Benedictine values and a spirit of innovation have driven the deliberate ways in which the college has evolved and grown," McDonald said. "In the past decade in particular, the college has expanded its programming and now extends across the state and beyond, reaching learners that might not otherwise have had the opportunity to fulfill their purposes and advance their professions.
"None of this would have been possible without the wisdom, faith and foresight of the Benedictine sisters and the values that make up the foundation of that success - hospitality, community, respect, stewardship and love of learning," she said.
McDonald succeeds current President Colette Geary, who is leaving the post after three years to spend more time with her family.