Dr. Barbara McDonald became St. Scholastica's 13th president on Aug. 5, 2019. Her 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 had served as president since 2015. McDonald retired from the Minnesota State system in August 2019, after 22 years of service.
During her tenure with the Minnesota State system,
Dr. McDonald also 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 in Grand Rapids, MN, where she was promoted to provost. From 1997 to 1999, she served at Rainy River Community College in International Falls, MN, filling the roles of faculty and 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 was born and 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. Between 1986 and 1989 she held ESL faculty positions at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, at Central Texas College on the U.S. Military Base in Seoul, and at the American University in Cairo, Egypt.
While with the Minnesota State system, McDonald was a member of the Leadership Council and served on the Executive Leadership Committee, the Chancellor's Transition Team, and several statewide committees. McDonald also chaired the presidential search committee for Lake Superior College in Duluth in 2018-19.
She is an actively engaged community member, currently serving with the Arrowhead Growth Alliance of Duluth, on the Board of Minnesota Campus Compact, and as an Advisory Board member of the Center for Innovation and the Arts. She has also served on the Itasca Economic Development Board, the Grand Itasca Hospital and Clinic Board, the Reif Performing Arts Board, Twin West Chamber Foundation Board, the North Hennepin Chamber Board, the Brooklyn Bridge Alliance for Youth, and the Minnesota Learning Network Board — University of Minnesota and Minnesota State. A Catholic, she also served on the Parish Council of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Grand Rapids, MN.
McDonald earned a Doctor of Education (Ed.D) from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2002 and a Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Foreign Language from American University in Cairo, Egypt, in 1983. She started her undergraduate journey at The College of St. Scholastica and finished with a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Colorado-Boulder in 1980.