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Saint Mary’s appoints new provost and senior vice president

| Friday, April 29, 2022

The College announced Barbara May will serve as provost and senior vice president, per a press release Friday afternoon. May will begin her term Aug. 1.

May earned her bachelors degree in biology and German at St. Olaf’s College in 1995 and her doctorate in Molecular Veterinary Biosciences from the University of Minnesota in 2002.

Barbara May, Saint Mary's provostCourtesy of Saint Mary’s College
Barbara May will begin her term as Saint Mary’s provost and senior vice president on Aug. 1.

Before coming to Saint Mary’s, May served as academic dean at the College of Saint Benedict & Saint John’s University since 2017. During her time there, she oversaw the two colleges’ 37 majors and 40 minors, 270 faculty members and 3,000 undergraduate students. She also developed new programs, including a general education curriculum, an exercise and health science major, three graduate nursing programs and several interdisciplinary minors.

Saint Mary’s President Katie Conboy explained how May’s connection to liberal arts institutions will serve her in her new role.

“Saint Benedict, a college for women, and Saint John’s, a university for men, are top-tier liberal arts colleges,” Conboy said. “There are many similarities between Saint Mary’s College and these institutions, including the Catholic intellectual tradition, the combination of liberal arts and professional preparation, and the size of the undergraduate student body. Barb May’s experience — first in the classroom as a professor of biology and later in administration — has given her the foundation for a successful transition to Saint Mary’s. I am thrilled to welcome her to my leadership team.”

In an interview with The Observer, May discussed why Saint Mary’s is a unique place for students to learn.

“[Saint Mary’s] is a welcoming and personal space for women to grow as learners in a liberal arts setting,” she said. “In this setting, women are able to develop the skill set necessary to be lifelong learners and leaders, capable of adapting and addressing the many challenges that life will provide.”

May also described how she plans to build relationships at Saint Mary’s by listening to all community members.

“I want to understand the strengths, passions and interests of the faculty, staff, students and community members,” May said. “I hope to connect and learn from them as we start to work together to create and implement goals for moving forward. I know this will be conducted in a variety of formats whether through social events, meetings or a conversation in the hallway, I look forward to visiting multiple spaces across campus to connect and begin building relationships.”

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