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Carleton College Economics Professor Named New Leader of Saint John’s University

April 10, 2012

Northfield, Minn.—Michael Hemesath, professor of economics and current president of the faculty at Carleton College, has been appointed the 13th president of Saint John’s University (SJU) by the University’s Board of Regents. He will begin his official duties on July 1, 2012.

A 1981 SJU graduate, Hemesath is the first lay president in the 155-year history of the private, liberal arts university located in Collegeville, Minn.

“This is incredibly exciting and good news for Saint John’s University and for Mike. And although we will miss our treasured colleague and friend very much, we know this is an exceptional opportunity for him,” Carleton President Steven G. Poskanzer said. “Mike is a most talented teacher and scholar, and for the last two years I have also had the privilege to also see him in the role of an institution-wide leader. I’ve been impressed by the careful, thoughtful, and sensitive way he analyzes difficult problems. I’ve also repeatedly seen his ability to find deft solutions to those problems that always put the core values of our College and the need to take good care of members of our community at the forefront.

“Mike is smart and able to bring people together in pursuit of common goals. He will be a superb college president.”

Hemesath, 53, graduated summa cum laude from SJU with a degree in economics and received his master’s and doctorate in economics from Harvard University. He has been a member of the economics faculty at Carleton since 1989 and has served as faculty president since 2009. Before coming to Carleton, he served on the faculty for two years at Tufts University in Medford, Mass. His wife, Elizabeth, teaches in the religion department at St. Olaf College, and they have a son, Cameron.

“The selection of a lay president represents a new era in the long history of Saint John's University, yet I want to emphasize the continuity that will be at the heart of this transition,” Hemesath said in a release issued by SJU. “A Saint John's education has been transformative for generations of young men precisely because of the Catholic Benedictine heritage that makes this institution a rare and wonderful gift to higher education. The privilege of serving as Saint John's 13th president is both tremendously exciting and humbling. The Saint John's community both shaped and shapes me, and it is a rare gift to be able to lead my alma mater through this important transition in the relationship between the monastery and the university.”

In addition to teaching micro and macroeconomics at Carleton, Hemesath teaches courses on international economics, Soviet and post-Soviet economics and health economics. His research interests focus on the challenges facing the former communist countries as they reform their political and economic systems. This research has taken him to Russia and given him the opportunity to teach in the master's degree program at Kiev-Mohyla Academy in Ukraine. Hemesath participated in the Pew Fellowship in International Affairs at Harvard in 1990-91, and has been using cases in his courses ever since. Hemesath is currently the director of EthIC, the Ethical Inquiry at Carleton program, designed to develop curricular and co-curricular activities that encourage the exploration of ethical issues throughout the Carleton community.

Dean of the College Bev Nagel noted that in Hemesath’s years as a Carleton faculty member, he has made a powerful impact on the College. “He has been a superb teacher and mentor to his students, and an excellent colleague. In addition to his leadership in faculty governance, he has played a pivotal role in shaping our EthIC initiative,” Nagel said. “Over our many years of working together, Mike has been a generous colleague. I've greatly appreciated his wisdom and his wry wit. I commend St. John's on an excellent choice, and wish Mike all the best in his new position.”

Hemesath is also deeply committed to off-campus studies programs. He has directed three Associated Colleges of the Midwest programs in Krasnodar, Russia, and has been faculty director for Carleton's Economics Seminar at Cambridge University five times, most recently in summer of 2007.

For more information, visit the Saint John University website.