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Archive for Sunday, September 12, 2004

Corporate attorney appointed president of Benedictine College

September 12, 2004

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— The new president of Benedictine College is neither a career educator nor a member of the Catholic clergy, but Stephen D. Minnis brings what a search committee deemed the right resume for the 145-year-old institution.

Minnis, who assumes the presidency Oct. 1, is a 1982 Benedictine graduate who went on to earn a law degree and has worked as an attorney for Sprint Corp since 1990.

He also has a long record of alumni service to Benedictine, and was co-chair earlier this year of a fund-raising gala that grossed a record $290,000 for scholarships.

Such qualifications in a president might be startling to the Benedictine monks who, in 1859, founded the school that would later become an accredited liberal arts college. But Minnis' skills are the kind that have been in growing demand recently as colleges and universities look beyond academia for top leadership.

Minnis will succeed Daniel J. Carey, who led Benedictine for nine years after serving in vice presidential posts at two other Catholic institutions -- Saint Louis University in Missouri and St. Mary's University in San Antonio.

Carey, who took office last month as president of Wisconsin's Edgewood College, led Benedictine through several years of enrollment growth, the addition of degree programs and construction or renovation of several buildings.

Minnis has similar goals, such as increasing the endowment and building more residence halls to keep up with the growing enrollment.

"I think we can look forward to a capital campaign," he said. "We had, for many years, a living endowment with the monks and sisters as our main employees of the schools. Since there are not as many as there used to be, we have to find ways to increase our endowment to support our staff."

A native of St. Joseph, Mo., Minnis holds a law degree from Washburn University and a master's in business administration from Baker University in Baldwin. He had a private law practice and served as an assistant prosecutor in Johnson County before joining Sprint, where he is director of regulatory affairs in the legal department.

Minnis said his professional experience would be useful in raising money for the college.

"I manage people in my job now, so that will help me in managing the responsibilities of that office," he said. "In my job as state regulator and representative for the Sprint company, I have to go to states and convince key leaders, which is not unlike going out to alums and benefactors and developing relationships with them."

Still, he voices an almost reverent note about his new appointment.

"I feel I have been called to do this job and am honored to be the steward of this fine institution," he said.

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