Saint John's Magazine Winter/Spring 2012

Page 4

My Perspective Fr. Bob Koopmann ’68, OSB, President

It is with profound gratitude and sincere humility that I will conclude my threeyear term as president of Saint John’s University on June 30th. While I’m looking forward to having a sabbatical and then returning to Saint John’s to continue teaching and college relations work, it’s hard for me to believe that this is the last column I’ll write as president of Saint John’s. As I reflect on my time as president, I’m thankful to all of you for your confidence in me and for easing the transition at a critical point in our history. Filling Br. Dietrich’s shoes was no small task during a challenging time. I’m proud of what we accomplished together. Allow me to share a few of the highlights. Over the past several years, we managed to strengthen and stabilize our enrollment and budget. While private colleges nationwide have struggled to recruit and retain students, we exceeded our enrollment goal each year and maintained our historically high retention rate. In addition, we managed to balance our budget, thanks to our dedicated staff and Board of Regents. I am very pleased to note that donations to Saint John’s have returned to pre-recession levels. Alumni and friends are contributing to the Annual Fund at record levels. Donors have responded well to the FirstGen program, which will provide scholarships for Johnnies who are in the first generation of their family to attend college. It’s also exciting to be moving into the implementation phase for the Learning Commons and the athletic facilities upgrade. All of these initiatives will help us continue to attract


and retain the well-rounded students that are important to the future of Saint John’s. In a ceremony at the Abbey Church last June, Donald and Mabel Jackson delivered the final folios of The Saint John’s Bible, marking the end of a remarkable journey to create an illuminated Bible for our times. I have treasured seeing this monumental work of art transform those who have experienced it, including our community at Saint John’s. I eagerly anticipate the many ways in which The Saint John’s Bible will influence artists, theologians and faith communities for years to come. To prepare SJU for the future, we created a dynamic and ambitious strategic plan. We also streamlined our governance structure. An important part of this process involved finalizing a corporate restructuring that created a new civil corporation for Saint John’s University. The abbey and university have worked on this restructuring for several years, and it’s rewarding to see it come to fruition. I’m confident that we’ve accomplished our goal of maintaining our Catholic, Benedictine character while also improving governing efficiency. You can read more about this in Cloister Walk, p.10. Serving as president has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. Saint John’s is—and will always remain—the center of my life. I am honored to be among those who have provided leadership during its 155-year history. I look forward to staying in touch with you as we continue to move “forward, ever forward!”