Andrea Lee, IHM, to step down as St. Catherine University President

After 18 years of presidency, Sr. Andrea Lee resigns to pursue personal and congregational plans. Photo Credit: St. Catherine University

After 18 years of presidency, Sr. Andrea Lee resigns to pursue personal and congregational plans. Photo Credit: St. Catherine University

Andrea Lee, IHM, has announced plans to complete her 18-year tenure as president of St. Catherine University on July 1, 2016. During her presidency, St. Catherine’s celebrated its Centennial and solidified its identity as a vibrant, comprehensive Catholic university with a premier baccalaureate college for women at its heart and a clear focus on mission.

In her letter to the university community Sister Andrea noted that, “While there is never a good time to leave a place I love, colleagues I deeply respect, and a mission that compels my enthusiastic commitment, I will leave next summer knowing that St. Catherine’s is in a very strong position and will present an attractive call to a new leader.

Significant evidence of St. Catherine’s health and positive momentum signals that it is the right time for this transition.”

“President Lee has been an outstanding leader of the University, contributing to its vibrancy and steady growth for nearly two decades,” said Karen Rauenhorst, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “We are grateful for her visionary leadership and look forward to celebrating her many contributions.”

Since 1998, Sister Andrea has led the university through years of record growth. Overall University enrollment has increased by more than 20 percent – at a time when enrollment in women’s colleges has declined by more than 30 percent nationally. New academic programs are well enrolled and highly respected, among them doctorates in nursing, social work, and both physical and occupational therapy; master’s programs in business and physician assistant studies; and baccalaureate programs in public health, interior design, and American Sign Language and interpreting. Thirty-four of the University’s academic programs are externally accredited and two ten-year comprehensive reviews by the Higher Learning Commission resulted in unqualified accreditation renewals.

Substantially enhanced philanthropic support has led to notable improvements and creative repurposing of existing facilities, along with construction of a new library and student center, state of the art laboratories, residence halls, academic and athletic facilities. The University has raised more than $215 million dollars to date, including $86 million in its most recent comprehensive campaign, an unprecedented unrestricted gift of $20 million, and a Perpetual Legacy Grant that supports the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health with $1 million dollars annually. Her efforts also resulted in the University’s largest ever foundation grant of $3.3 million dollars.

St. Catherine’s strong financial position is evidenced by a healthy balance sheet, balanced budgets and invested funds that have increased fivefold during Sister Andrea’s tenure, despite several years of external financial turmoil.

External ratings and financial ratios provide objective validation of both St. Catherine’s institutional strength and the esteem of the University’s higher education colleagues.

“With commitment to the University’s mission as the centerpiece of her presidency, Sister Andrea has brought St. Catherine’s to new heights of excellence,” said Jean Wincek, CSJ, Sisters of St. Joseph Province Leadership Team liaison to St. Catherine University. “We are profoundly grateful for her outstanding leadership. She leaves a legacy that will continue to make a deep imprint on this institution for many years to come.”

Today St. Catherine’s is a vibrant institution due in significant measure to the president’s dynamic and inspiring leadership. A gifted public speaker, Sister Andrea’s creative and artistic genius has enhanced existing – and established new – traditions and rituals that enliven the university community.

Beyond the campuses, Sister Andrea has brought recognition and visibility to the University as a member of the Board of Catholic Health Initiatives, one of the nation’s largest healthcare systems; held leadership roles with the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities as Board member, conference presenter and advisor to new Catholic university presidents. She has served on the board of the Catholic Community Foundation of the Archdiocese and currently serves on the Alverno College Board of Trustees.

“Sister Andrea is a good friend,” said Rev. John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame. “She is a highly respected colleague in Catholic higher education who has, at a time when many Catholic colleges have struggled, increased St. Catherine’s enrollment while deepening its commitment to its Catholic mission. I congratulate her on her success and thank her for her leadership.”

President Lee came to St. Kate’s from Marygrove College in Detroit where she served in several administrative leadership positions including Dean, Chief Financial Officer, Executive Vice President, and Interim President. Among her many honors and awards, the Pennsylvania State University recognized Sister Andrea with the prestigious Alumni Fellow award, a lifetime appointment awarded to only one tenth of one percent of the University’s more than 600,000 graduates, and Twin Cities Business recognized her leadership in healthcare education with the Healthcare Hero.

According to Board Chair Karen Rauenhorst, “The Board of Trustees will soon announce plans for a comprehensive national search to recruit and select the successor to Sister Andrea.”

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