Just hours after being tapped as the fifteenth president of the College of St. Benedict, Dr. Mary Hinton spoke in an exclusive interview with The Record about her goals, feelings and intentions for the school. Editor-in-Chief of The Record Adam Tucker conducted the interview with Hinton—who spoke on how it feels to be the next CSB president.
AT: How does it feel to be the new president of St. Ben’s?
MH: It feels fantastic, I have many, many emotions right now. On the one hand, I am truly humbled that such a wonderful institution selected me. The strength of St. Ben’s and the strength of the organization, the strength of its community and its history are just wonderful. It’s humbling to have been selected as the next leader of the College of St. Benedict.
At the same time, I feel a tremendous amount of responsibility and I feel I owe so much to the people who have entrusted me with this office. I’m eager to begin serving students, faculty, and staff—it’s a wonderful, wonderful feeling.
What was your first reaction?
I think I exhaled for the first time in several weeks. What happens when you’re doing a presidential search process is that you’re always trying to see if you would fit with the institution, if you could see yourself there. So when I was visited campus that was what I was looking for. And when I visited there was a big snowstorm and my visit was modified a bit. But I walked away from the visit saying ‘I could see myself here.’ But what I said to the Trustees that was most powerful for me was that I could see CSB as a place where I would want my daughters to attend school, I could see SJU as a place where I would want my son to attend school. And that was the most powerful message, I wanted this not only for myself but for my family, because it’s such a special place. I don’t have words powerful enough to express how special it is.
What are you looking forward to about starting?
I’m looking forward to getting to know the students, the faculty, and my administrative colleagues. I’m looking forward to hearing about the hopes and aspirations of the people who make up CSB/SJU. I want to work with them, plan with them, dream with them—that’s what I’m looking forward to the most. Being active on campus and engaging with people.
Do you think the move from N.Y. to Minnesota will be difficult?
I’m a little nervous about the weather, but that is far secondary to my excitement for the position and to be a part of the community. I don’t think it will be too difficult. My family is very excited, they’re all looking forward to it. We’re looking forward to meeting community members, having the community members visit us at Renner House. I’m very excited about it. We will not be deterred by the weather, even though I will note that every interaction I’ve had with the community has involved snow. But when I arrive in June, I am assuming there will be less snow.
What are your goals you hope to focus on?
One of the things that is definitely on the horizon is focusing on the strategic plans being developed, Strategic Directions 2020. I look forward to joining in on that process, and I look forward to learning more about where the community envisions itself in 2020, and seeing what it will need in terms of resources to achieve that vision. I want to see how I can facilitate and be a catalyst for helping CSB achieve its aspirations.
What are you most nervous about for being president?
When a parent brings their child to college, that college is making a promise to that parent that we will nurture, care for, and protect their child. And as the president, I’m telling them I will help their child grow academically and personally and that parent can trust the College of St. Benedict to enable to provide their child with a transformative experience, and that is an amazing responsibility.
I respect the depth and importance of that promise I will make to each and every parent of St. Ben’s students. I look forward to living that out with the students, staff, and faculty.
I take that very seriously.
What are some hobbies that you enjoy?
I enjoy writing, I try to write quite a bit. I enjoy traveling with my family. I think that some of the best learning takes place from traveling and learning from other cultures, so I enjoy traveling with my family. I am fairly active, when I have time I like to exercise. I enjoy reading—but really traveling, writing and interacting with my family is really what I do to relax.
I would also say I have a vibrant spiritual and prayer life. I look forward to engaging my spiritual life at CSB, and I enjoy doing that when I am not working.
What are you most excited about?
I am excited about learning from the people at CSB. I’m really excited to develop a shared vision for the future and pick up from MaryAnn’s strong legacy.
I’m excited to meet the students. I have to say, I met several students and they were so impressive. I am really looking forward to having conversations with students. It’s easy to look at data about students and their experiences, but I am looking forward to speaking with students and asking them what they want from the College of St. Benedict.
Anything you would want to tell the student body right now?
I would like to tell them ‘thank you.’ I will see them when I am on campus next Wednesday. I want to thank them for entrusting me with this position, and I will endeavor to earn that trust each and every day.