In a joy-filled ceremony, Dr. Barbara McDonald was formally installed as the 13th president of the College on the Feast of St. Scholastica.
Her inauguration began on the Eve of the Feast with a solemn Mass at Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel. The presider was Reverend Gabriel Baltes, a Benedictine priest from St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle, Illinois who is on sabbatical and living at St. Scholastica Monastery. Concelebrants were Reverend John Petrich, the College chaplain, and Reverend James Bissonette, Diocesan Director for Duluth. In his sermon, Rev. Gabriel spoke of St. Scholastica’s deep faith and love for God.
The inaugural ceremony was held on the morning of the Feast — a providentially sunny day — in Reif Gymnasium. Mayor Emily Larson of Duluth was the Master of Ceremonies and kept everything flowing smoothly. Andrew Baily, president of the Student Government Association, welcomed Dr. McDonald, her family and guests on behalf of the student body. Sister Kathleen Del Monte gave the invocation, Sister Beverly Raway welcomed Dr. McDonald on behalf of the Sisters, and her friend Virginia Arthur from Metropolitan State University in the Twin Cities spoke of their shared experiences with Benedictine education. The College’s Bella Voce choir sang, and then Christopher Dolan, Chair of the Board of Trustees, read the investiture.
The new president spoke about the College’s strengths and diversity and her vision for its future. She was then given a ceremonial Anishinaabe Shared Spirits blanket by Amy Bergstrom, interim Chief Diversity Officer. The blanket had images of the sacredness and unity of all creation: the sacred circle, the four winds, sun, moon, star, rain cloud, the Three Sisters crops (corn, squash, and beans), sacred tobacco, and the buffalo, bear, elk, and eagle. The Anishinaabe Drum Group Around the Earth drummed Mikwendamoo-nagamon which means ‘Honor Song’.
Reverend James Bissonette, representing the people of the Diocese of Duluth, blessed Dr. McDonald and the College. The ceremony ended with all singing the school song Vivat, Vivat, St. Scholastica, and all recessed out while the College concert band and string orchestra played.
Dr. Barbara McDonald came to St. Scholastica following four years as president of North Hennepin Community College near Minneapolis. She was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, where her father worked for an oil company. She has lived in the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and Africa, teaching English as a second language while raising three sons and a daughter. She and her husband live within an easy walk from the campus.