President Barbara McDonald's Biography

Tower Hall with The College of St. Scholastica shield.

Dr. Barbara McDonald became St. Scholastica's 13th president on Aug. 5, 2019.

President-elect Barbara McDonaldMcDonald's career in higher education includes extensive experience in teaching, scholarship, administration, and international education. She came to St. Scholastica from North Hennepin Community College (NHCC) in Brooklyn Park, MN, where she served as president since 2015. NHCC is one of the largest and most diverse community colleges in the state, serving over 10,000 students. It is part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system (Minnesota State). McDonald retired from Minnesota State on Aug. 2, 2019, after 22 years of service.

McDonald, 61, served as interim president of Minnesota West Technical and Community College in Worthington, MN from 2014 to 2015. From 2000 to 2014 she served in various leadership roles in academic and student affairs at Itasca Community College (ICC) in Grand Rapids, MN, where she was promoted to provost.

She taught and served as an administrator at Rainy River Community College in International Falls from 1997 to 1999, filling the roles of faculty assessment and service learning coordinator. She was an adjunct faculty member in the Master of Education Cohort Program at the University of Minnesota-Duluth's Extension Program in 1999.

McDonald grew up in Beirut, Lebanon and earlier in her adult career, she and her family lived and worked abroad for many years in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. McDonald specialized in teaching English as a Second Language. She was the ESL Program Director and ESL Instructor at the Western Academy of Beijing in Beijing, China from 1995 to 1997, and served as an ESL Consultant in Manila, Philippines and Johannesburg, South Africa from 1989 to 1994. Prior to that, she served as an ESL Faculty Member, Program Coordinator and Curriculum Writer at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, Central Texas College on a U.S. Military Base in Seoul, and at the American University in Cairo in Egypt from 1981 to 1989.

McDonald has served on many higher education boards, including Minnesota State's Chancellor's Transition Team, the Minnesota State Student Success Council and the Executive Committee of the Minnesota State Leadership Council. She chaired the search team for Lake Superior College's presidential search from 2018-2019.

She is actively involved in the community, serving as a board member for several groups,  including the Twin West Chamber Foundation Board, the Brooklyn Bridge Alliance for Youth, and the Minnesota Learning Network Board – University of MN and Minnesota State. She is a member of the Metro Alliance President's Council. She has served on the Itasca Economic Development Board, the Grand Itasca Hospital and Clinic Board, the Reif Performing Arts Board, and others. A Catholic, she also served on the Parish Council of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Grand Rapids.

She won the American Association of University Women Minnesota's Women as Agents of Change award in 2007 and was named an Outstanding Academic and Student Affairs Administrator for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities in 2003.

She has published several research papers focusing on key higher education issues including strategic planning and student learning and assessment, and she has successfully authored and co-authored numerous grants throughout her career.

Her leadership development experience includes the Minnesota Partnership for Executive Leadership Development Program in 2012, the Higher Education Resource of Institute of Bryn Mawr University in 2011, the Blandin Community Leadership Program in 2009, and the Leadership Academy of the University of Minnesota from 1998 to 2002.

She earned a Doctor of Education (Ed.D) from the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis in 2002; a Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Foreign Language from American University in Cairo, Egypt, in 1983, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Colorado-Boulder in 1980.