New chapter begins at The College of St. Scholastica

McCarrick Geary. Submitted
McCarrick Geary. Submitted
The College of St. Scholastica celebrated the inauguration of President Colette McCarrick Geary on Friday.

About 1,000 people attended the historic event, including faculty, staff, students, alumni, the Benedictine Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery, community leaders, elected officials, local and state college representatives, and other supporters and friends.

“On this historic occasion,” Geary said in her Inaugural address, “as we stand in this expectant place, at the intersection of the present and a future we cannot yet fully glimpse, we renew our commitment to the values and beliefs rooted in our Catholic Benedictine heritage which have guided us through our first 104 years. They will continue to be the driving force behind all we will do in this second century of Saints.

“We are joyful in the work that lies open to us today, because we are filled with hope for its promise for tomorrow. And so, it is a great privilege for me to join with this community as we build upon our remarkable history, and write the next chapter of the story of The College of St. Scholastica.”

The inauguration festivities began with a Mass. The Installation Ceremony followed, from noon to 2 p.m., and a reception was held immediately afterward.

The Installation Ceremony opened with a procession of approximately 200 people, led by bagpipers and featuring delegates from other colleges and universities, St. Scholastica faculty, members of the Board of Trustees, flagbearers, and guest speakers.

Mary Ives, past chair of the College’s Board of Trustees, served as master of ceremonies.

“Today,” Ives said, “we are especially aware that the work of The College of St. Scholastica is to preserve and impart the treasures of the human spirit, intellect and culture to new generations.”

Duluth Mayor Emily Larson, a 1995 St. Scholastica graduate, spoke on behalf of alumni.

“What I found here as a student — the teachings and values of a Benedictine experience — fundamentally impacted the person I was, the mother, partner and friend I am now and the Mayor I am becoming… I’ll admit I am biased, but: this is truly a special place. And we find ourselves together at an incredibly special time.”

Other speakers included Kathleen Annette, President and CEO of Blandin Foundation of Grand Rapids and member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe; Minnesota Private College Council President Paul Cerkvenik; and Mary Dana Hinton, President of the College of Saint Benedict.

An Investiture marked Geary’s official installation as president. She received a ceremonial President’s Medallion from Board of Trustees Chairman Christopher Dolan.

“We commit to your care the leadership of this institution,” Dolan said to Geary. “With God’s grace, may you lead with wisdom. By accepting the President’s Medallion, you accept the charge to serve with justice, righteousness and honor as you carry out the duties of President of The College of St. Scholastica.”

President Geary began her term as president on July 1. She comes to St. Scholastica from The College of New Rochelle in New Rochelle, NY. She joined that institution in 2010 as Vice President for Student Services, supervising health services, counseling and career services, disability services, intercollegiate athletics and campus ministry. Starting in 2014, she served as The College of New Rochelle’s Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives. She led implementation of a strategic plan working across six campuses and four schools to guarantee an integrated execution. Dr. Geary oversaw the Office of Mission and Ministry, which promoted mission-based commitments to liberal learning and expanding educational access to populations historically underserved by higher education.

Earlier, Dr. Geary was Dean of Students at Manhattan College in Riverdale, NY. Over a 14-year span, she provided oversight to Student Life, Performing Arts, Residence Life, International Student Advisement, Counseling and Health Services. She was also a faculty member for more than a decade in the School of Education, teaching students in the master’s degree program in counseling. Prior to that, she was in private practice as a clinical psychologist and served on the staff at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Montrose, NY.

She holds a Ph.D. in psychology from Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, NY, a B.S. in psychology from Manhattan College in the Bronx, New York City, and is completing an M.A. in theology at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN.

Her previous experience as a clinician, professor and dean enables her to bring to the presidency considerable knowledge and a variety of skills in higher education.

President Geary is the first laywoman to lead St. Scholastica, and the first female president since Sister Joan Braun served as interim president more than 40 years ago.

The College’s last inauguration ceremony was in October 1999 for President Larry Goodwin, who retired last June.

The College of St. Scholastica was founded in 1912 by the Benedictine Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth. The College is independent today but the Benedictine Sisters remain its sponsors.

The College offers more than 40 programs. Total enrollment is 4,400. About 1,900 students are in traditional undergraduate programs on the main campus in Duluth, MN; the rest are in graduate, extended and online programs. St. Scholastica has extended sites throughout Minnesota as well as in Phoenix, AZ.

St. Scholastica is regularly ranked as one of the Midwest’s best regional universities by U.S. News & World Report, and has been nationally ranked for quality by Forbes and Money magazine.