Woods College Dean to Become President of Saint Mary’s University

Dean of the Woods College of Advancing Studies Rev. James P. Burns, I.V.D will leave Boston College to enter a new role as president of Saint Mary’s University in Winona, Minn., according to The Chronicle. Burns, who has been dean of the Woods College since 2014, will leave his position on June 15 and become Saint Mary’s president on July 9.

Saint Mary’s is the De La Salle Christian Brothers Catholic liberal arts university with an undergraduate, graduate, and online student enrollment of 5,700, according to The Chronicle. Like BC, it is a Catholic institution with a focus on the liberal arts.

“I want to express my sincere thanks to Fr. Leahy for his guidance and mentorship throughout my time as dean and for providing me this opportunity at Boston College,” said Burns to The Chronicle. “In addition, the opportunity to work closely with Provost David Quigley and my fellow deans, as well as BC’s vice presidents and its Jesuit community, has been a wonderful and singular experience. I am very grateful.”

Burns has been at BC since 2010, and before being officially named dean, served as the interim dean from 2012 to 2014. During his time at the Woods College, Burns expanded the curriculum of the Woods College, adding programs in applied economics, leadership and administration, cybersecurity policy and governance, and sports administration, and added the school’s first online program in 2016. He increased partnerships with BC’s other schools, including the Law School, Carroll School of Management, and the Connell School of Nursing. David Goodman, the associate dean of academic affairs and advising in the Woods College, will serve as interim dean.

“We have built upon the strong foundation that Fr. Woods left us and crafted a smart, caring and thoughtful staff that is focused on student success and faculty support,” said Burns to The Chronicle. “As a result, we have seen our student retention rates increase significantly and our enrollments have doubled and tripled in some areas. We have been a hub of innovation, and have become the leader in online delivery systems to students at BC, with a focus on quality and rigor.”

Provost and Dean Faculties David Quigley commended Burns for his leadership of the Woods College.

“I’ve been blessed to work closely with Fr. Burns during the past eight years,” said Quigley to The Chronicle. “I have long admired his commitment to and belief in Woods College students, and his leadership has advanced the school to a new level of excellence. We wish him every success as he returns home to his beloved Minnesota.”

Burns will be the first president of Saint Mary’s in over a century to not be a Christian Brother, the order that runs the university.

“I intend to bring the same energy, passion and conviction to my work with students, faculty and staff at Saint Mary’s that I brought to the Woods College each day,” said Burns to The Chronicle. “There are so many natural connections between the Lasallian charism and the Jesuit charism. Both highly value and honor education at all levels, both seek to find God in all things and to live in God’s presence, both have clear concern for those who are on the periphery and both seek to provide opportunities for all men and women.”

Featured Image by Lee Pellegrini / University Communications