Provost Rita Knuesel will retire this June after serving the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University for nearly 40 years in several capacities.
Knuesel has been provost (chief academic officer) since 2007. Before that, she was associate provost and academic dean for three years. For eight years, beginning in 1994, she was the dean of CSB.
Before taking on administrative jobs, Knuesel was a faculty member of the CSB Department of Music for 17 years.
She is a 1975 CSB alumna.
“The timing of my retirement is appropriate as academic affairs celebrates 20 years as a joint administrative unit at the two colleges,” Knuesel said. “I am proud I am leaving the academic-affairs division in a position of strength and am ending my career with the same sense of joy I’ve felt throughout my years of service.”
During her time as provost, Knuesel led the efforts to more closely link strategic planning at the colleges to the annual budgeting process. She worked to ensure faculty were represented at the decision-making table. She supported faculty governance by appointing a provost’s delegate to serve as an ex-officio member at all faculty-governance committees. She partnered with many faculty senate chairs and vice chairs throughout the years, as well as the Faculty Compensation and Benefits Committee, and her work to enhance faculty development is a highlight of her career.
Knuesel views her role in administration as a vocational calling serving the common good, and she describes her work, especially as provost, as a “significant privilege of a lifetime to serve the students, faculty, staff, presidents and boards of St. Ben’s and St. John’s.”
“Rita Knuesel has arguably had the hardest provost’s job in the country for the past nine years,” said Michael Hemesath, president of SJU. “Reporting to two presidents and two boards and overseeing two institutions is something no other provost in the country has to do. Our community has watched with admiration and appreciation as Rita has handled these responsibilities with grace and Benedictine spirit that leave CSB and SJU well-positioned for the challenges ahead. We all owe this exceptional servant leader a debt of gratitude we will never fully be able to repay.”
Knuesel was nationally recognized by her peers in 2013 when she was awarded the Council of Independent Colleges’ Chief Academic Officer Award.
“It’s been a privilege to work alongside, and learn from Provost Knuesel,” said Mary Dana Hinton, president of CSB. “She approaches each day with optimism and is a beacon of light on our campus. Rita models our Benedictine heritage, love of the liberal arts and women’s leadership – the hallmarks of our mission – each and every day.”
CSB and SJU plan to honor Knuesel later this spring.