Michael Hemesath, professor of economics at Carleton College, has been appointed the 13th president of St. John’s University in Collegeville. A 1981 SJU graduate, Hemesath is the first layperson to be appointed to a full presidential term in the 155-year history of the institution.
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 on the economics faculty at Carleton since 1989 and has served as faculty president since 2009. Previously, he was on the faculty at Tufts University in Medford, Mass. His wife, Elizabeth, teaches in the religion department at St. Olaf College, and they have a son, Cameron. He will begin his official duties on July 1.
“The selection of a lay president represents a new era in the long history of St. John’s University, yet I want to emphasize the continuity that will be at the heart of this transition,” Hemesath said. “A St. 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 St. John’s 13th president is both tremendously exciting and humbling. The St. 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, Hemesath teaches courses on international economics, Soviet and post-Soviet economics and health economics.
He succeeds Benedictine Father Robert Koopmann, who has been serving as the 12th president of the university.