Campus Confidential scours student unions, lecture halls and dorms for the crucial and quirky stories that make colleges and universities special. Share what you’re up to on a Friday night, learning (or not) in that lecture - and what you're looking for in a school search as a new student. Higher education reporter Maura Lerner will keep you informed.

Outgoing St. Ben's president heads to Drew University

Posted by: Maura Lerner Updated: February 24, 2014 - 10:54 AM

MaryAnn Baenninger will become president of Drew University after she steps down as head of the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn.

Baenninger, who announced last fall that she was leaving St. Benedict, was named Monday as the new president of Drew, a private liberal arts college in Madison, N.J. She beat out a pool of more than 100 applicants and will take over in July, according to a university news release. 

Baenninger, 58, has been president of St. Benedict since 2004. She said in October that she was giving up her post for personal reasons, but was not ready to retire. She will remain at St. Benedict until June.

A digital site for secret admirers debuts at Macalester College

Posted by: Maura Lerner Updated: February 3, 2014 - 12:22 PM

Karintha Lowe, a sophomore and guest blogger from Macalester College, sent in this report about a new social media site taking her school by storm:

Just 48 hours after Friendsy opened to Macalester students last week, an estimated 20% of the student body created an account.

Not bad for a dating site that lets secret admirers stay secret.

Friendsy, which was founded by students at Princeton University last year, is part-Facebook, part-matchmaking site that allows students to check each other out anonymously.

Students can upload a photo and browse through pictures of other registered members from the same college. They can choose to “friend,” “hookup,” or “date,” one another -- but their identities remain secret unless the object of their affection expresses a similar interest in them. If the feeling is mutual, their names are revealed to one another.

 “It’s a new and fun way to see who’s around on campus, (so) why not?” said Rose Allen, a Macalester sophomore who signed up for Friendsy. Some students, though, may be reluctant to admit they've joined.  “I think people are embarrassed to be excited over something close to a dating site, especially one that’s just based on a picture of someone,” she said.

Yet the fact that so many signed up so quickly, she added, "has got to mean something.”

Friendsy co-founder and Princeton student Michael Pinksy said in a phone interview that the site has a natural appeal to college students. “People have all these acquaintances on campus and are too often afraid to take that next step," he said. "We started this site with the idea to bring those people together.” Now available at seven schools, Friendsy hopes to continue expanding across the country in the coming months.

Jake Greenberg, a Macalester freshman, isn’t entirely sold on the idea. “It just seems to me like this is one of those Internet trends that will go away quickly,” he says.

Fellow freshman Sarah Silbert chimes in, “you might as well ask people out in person.”
- Karintha Lowe, sophomore, Macalester College.

New Liberal Arts dean named at U of M

Posted by: Maura Lerner Updated: January 8, 2014 - 11:37 AM

John Coleman, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin, has been named the new dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota.

Coleman, who has been chair of the political science department at Wisconsin since 2007, is slated to head the U's largest college starting in July 31, pending approval by the Board of Regents.

"John has a track record as a trustworthy and highly effective academic leader," said Provost Karen Hanson in a news release Wednesday announcing his appointment. "He has been a strong and persuasive advocate for the liberal arts."

Coleman is an expert on political parties and elections, and has written or edited six books. The interim dean, Raymond Duvall, also a political scientist, will remain in the position until Coleman arrives.

The previous dean, James Parente Jr., stepped down last June to return to teaching. A professor of German, Scandinavian and Dutch, he served as dean of liberal arts since 2008.


Name the 10-coldest colleges in the country

Posted by: Maura Lerner Updated: January 3, 2014 - 1:46 PM

The coldest college in America? Minnesota State University in Moorhead, according to a new ranking by the website College Prowler.

A report in the Huffington Post shows that nine of the ten coldest campuses are in Minnesota, based on the Prowler survey. The only outlier isn't far away: The University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire came in at No. 5.

The rankings are based on the reviews of students, one of whom said of the Moorhead campus: "The winters are brutal, and summers are too short."

That could probably describe the entire Top 10:

1. Minnesota State U., Moorhead, MN

2. Concordia College, Moorhead, MN

3. College of St. Benedict, Collegeville, MN. (There's no mention of St. John's University, its adjacent partner)

4. St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN.

5. University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire

6. Carleton College, Northfield, MN

7. University of Northwestern (formerly Northwestern College), St. Paul

8. Macalester College, St. Paul

9. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

10. Minnesota State University, Mankato.

International students up in Minnesota

Posted by: Maura Lerner Updated: November 11, 2013 - 11:25 AM

It's probably no surprise that the U of M is the state's biggest magnet for foreign students: last year, the Twin Cities campus alone drew 6,178 international students, according to a new report from the Institute of International Education.

But the next three schools with the largest influx of foreign students are outside the metro area:

St. Cloud State University: 1,215

Minnesota State University Mankato: 885

Minnesota State Universitiy Moorhead: 528

The University of St. Thomas, in St. Paul, rounded out the top five, with 448 international students.

In all, Minnesota ranked 19th in the nation, with 13,232 foreign students, an increase of 3.9 percent last year.

Nationally, more than 819,000 international students studied in the U.S. last year, up 7 percent from the year before, according to the full report, called Open Doors 2013.

And where do they come from? The top five countries are China, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Canada.

U of St. Thomas offers retirement incentives

Posted by: Maura Lerner Updated: November 5, 2013 - 2:23 PM

The University of St. Thomas is offering incentives to employees 55 and older to retire in May, 2014.

The program, announced Monday, will offer a year's salary plus a $7,250 subsidy, to cover health benefits for a year, to faculty and staff who qualify.

Officials did not say how many employees they expect to take advantage of the offer. But in a statement released Monday, they said the voluntary program is "intended to make retirement feasible for faculty and staff who are ready to retire but have had financial or other concerns about moving forward."

The university, based in St. Paul, said the program would allow it to redeploy resources "in ways that best meet the changing needs of students and the institution." The university has said it plans to embark on a strategic planning process to identify those new priorities.


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