Where am I?

Dr. Golden's Timeline

Dr. Dennis Golden began his tenure at Fontbonne on a cold day in January, 1995. Now, 19 years later, we look back warmly on the career highlights of the university's 13th president as he prepares to retire after the spring 2014 semester.



-Dr. Dennis Golden takes office in January 1995, becoming the first male, married, lay president of Fontbonne College.

-One of Golden’s first challenges was to solve the long-term lack of sufficient on-campus parking for students, faculty and staff.

-Fontbonne initiates the first campus-wide strategic planning process involving all university constituents.

-Golden reestablishes two Fontbonne traditions: Academic Convocation and the Chain Link Ceremony, connecting each of Fontbonne’s graduation classes.


-Golden and Bert Barry, director of international students, travel to Taiwan and Thailand, developing relationships with numerous colleges and universities and signing some of Fontbonne’s first educational agreements for international study.

-The college celebrates 25 years of coeducation.

-Golden initiates all-campus meetings, bringing together the campus community at least four times each year and giving staff, faculty and students updated information, as well as the opportunity to ask questions and voice concerns as Fontbonne stakeholders.

-Fontbonne establishes a significant presidential advisory group named the Council of Regents.

-The administration makes a major operational and financial commitment to enhance technology on Fontbonne’s campus. Each faculty member is equipped with a computer, and the first “smart” classroom is established in the library.


-The Board of Trustees approves a five-year strategic plan (1997-2002) that includes a new articulation of the Fontbonne’s academics, finances, enrollment, technology, institutional image, Mission, Values, and Commitment Statements.

-A Fontbonne College off-site location, specifically for OPTIONS students, opens in South St. Louis County.

-The college establishes the Fontbonne Carondelet Heritage Award, honoring Sisters of St. Joseph who have had a profound impact on the university.

-Stephanie Stueber, CSJ was honored in 1997; Mary Carol Anth, CSJ in 1999; Jane Hassett, CSJ in 2001; and Rita Marie Schmitz, CSJ in 2013.


-The first phase of the campus master plan begins in August 1998 with initial renovations of what are now known as the East Building (formerly the Fine Arts Building) and a $6.3 million renovation of the Fine Arts Building (formerly Southwest Hall).

-The college plans a series of events and celebrations from July 1998 through Dec. 1999, recognizing Fontbonne’s 75th anniversary. The celebrations are called “Vitality and Vision—Fontbonne at 75.”

-In February St. Louis welcomes John Paul II for a two-day papal visit. Archbishop Justin Rigali extends a special invitation to Golden to participate in the Holy Father’s welcome at the Cathedral Basilica.

-The Catholic Bishops of the United States approve the application of Ex corde Ecclesiae, according to the norm of law. Fontbonne establishes a committee to review and study the issue of Catholic identity, which results in the Fontbonne College Catholic Identity Statement.


-In May, Golden and other colleagues of the university travel to Paris, Leon and LuPuy, France, and Rome, Italy, to honor the 350th anniversary of the founding of the Sisters of St. Joseph and the 75th anniversary of Fontbonne College. Golden, along with Katherine Hanley, CSJ, past university trustee, and Jerry Bladdick, associate vice president for graduate and adult enrollment, have the honor of meeting Pope John Paul II, who blesses the commemorative medals presented to the pilgrims prior to their arrival in Rome.

-A mural, designed and painted by art students under the direction of Professor Victor Wang, depicting the themes of liberal arts, service, Catholic tradition, Fontbonne history, diversity and the future, is permanently mounted in Ryan Hall to recognize the school’s 75th anniversary.

-After nearly four years of neighborhood meetings, public hearings, legal considerations and responses to local opposition, the City of Clayton approves plans for a parking lot along Big Bend Avenue. Construction begins on the 140-space lot.

-Golden authorizes the establishment of the Special School District of St. Louis County Life Preparation Program at Fontbonne. The program gives students with disabilities an opportunity to gain experiences and skills they need to become more independent.


-Fontbonne earns continued accreditation through the year 2010 from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

-Renovations of the Fine Arts Building are complete.

-Fontbonne OPTIONS launches a special Gateway program for adults with little or no college credit to take the foundational courses needed to begin a degree program.

-A foundation that chooses to remain anonymous gives Fontbonne a transformational grant to fund a new deaf education graduate program.


-In response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, Golden inspires other college and university presidents to write and sign a public declaration that appeared in the media stating their commitment to prepare “our nation’s future leaders with the freedom, knowledge and capabilities to help us all live fully the ideals of democracy and create a better world.”

-The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, founders of Fontbonne College, enter into a Sponsorship Agreement with Fontbonne, the first of its kind for the university, which continues to this day.

-In honor of the Sisters of St. Joseph, Golden commissions Professor Emeritus Rudy Torrini to create a magnificent bronze statue titled “The Founding Spirit,” permanently displayed in the center of Eleanor Halloran Ferry Plaza in front of the library.  

-Stephanie Stueber, CSJ, is named Chancellor, the first in Fontbonne’s history.

-Fontbonne becomes the sole operating entity of the OPTIONS program.


-As a result of academic excellence, significant growth and increased stature, Fontbonne changes its status from College to University.

-Greg Taylor, formerly dean of the business department, becomes the university’s first executive vice president.


-Fontbonne completes the “Vitality and Vision” capital campaign for $15 million.

-The Fontbonne University tagline, “Learn more. Be More.®”  is established and utilized for university advertising and marketing.


-Fontbonne completes a $3.3 million renovation of the East building, adding classrooms, conference rooms and offices, as well as the newly dedicated Center for Teacher and Therapist Education.

-Golden becomes chair of the national board of directors of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.

-Fontbonne’s Board of Trustees approves the university-wide Catholic Identity Statement.




-Fontbonne completes a $1.36 million renovation of Dunham Student Activity Center, which creates a more inviting and comfortable place for students with the addition of a new café, fireplace and second-story patio, as well as a refurbished fitness center. 

-The Fontbonne University/KMOX Book Club is established as a forum in which community members can come together to share a dialogue of ideas, opinions, interests and causes, all within the context of a book club discussion format. 


-The university establishes a chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, the oldest and largest collegiate honor society in the United States.

-An equal partnership between the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and the university establishes the first Endowed Chair of Catholic Thought, and the inaugural holder, from 2006-2008, is Dr. Donald P. Burgo, Ph.D., chairperson of the department of religion and philosophy.  

-Professors Ben Moore and Jack Luzkow initiate an honors class titled “The Bosnian Immigration: Narrative Memory and Identity” that eventually becomes the Bosnia Memory Project, an effort to record and archive the stories and memories of the more than 60,000 Bosnians who immigrated to the St. Louis area.


-The university inaugurates the first-in-the-nation annual Dedicated Semester program, the only one of its kind in the country, which continues to occur annually. The theme of the first semester, Judaism and Its Cultures, receives the support of the St. Louis Jewish Community Relations Council, which awards the university with the Norman A. Stack Community Relations Award.

-Five Fontbonne alumna, including Nina Bryans ’57, DeDe Caspari ’66, Karen Castellano ’98, Kathleen Gunn ’65, and Carol Spehr ’63, work with Marilyn Shepard, vice president for institutional advancement, to establish the Fontbonne Community Connection, a women’s giving circle. Each generous member of the FCC gives a minimum of $1,000 per year and votes to determine which campus projects the group funds. Throughout the next six years, the FCC grows to more than 85 members and gives more than $339,000 in grants to the Fontbonne community.

-Theatre Professor Deanna Jent and her associates launch Mustard Seed Theatre, a theatre company in residence that explores ideas of faith and social justice in Fontbonne’s Black Box Theatre.

-The university welcomes Gunner the Griffin, a new mascot, to the community.

-Fontbonne dedicates the Eardley Family Clinic for Speech, Language, and Hearing, named for Vern Eardley, a trustee, his wife Kathy and their family.

-The Clayton Chamber of Commerce honors Fontbonne with its annual Cornerstone Award, recognizing an individual or entity whose contributions have had a major impact on the Clayton community.

-The university updates its Mission, Values, Vision and Commitment Statements.

-Fontbonne enrollment reaches an all-time high of 2,969 students.

-Located in the library, the Charles Jeffers Glik Testing Center is named in memory of the son of Robert and Zoe McNamara Glik, whose mother, Norrine Gibbons McNamara was a 1946 Fontbonne graduate. The naming and a corresponding scholarship are made possible by June and Charles Gallagher, longtime supporters of Fontbonne. 


The Fontbonne community inaugurates the first-ever Fontbonne Day, a university-wide day of service throughout the St. Louis community that includes students, faculty, staff and administration.

-The university hosts the first-ever Christmas Around Campus, a holiday event free to Fontbonne students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends and families.

-Fontbonne receives the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, Inc. Award of Merit.


-Golden appoints Dr. Mary Beth Gallagher as the first assistant to the president for mission integration, thereby reinforcing Fontbonne’s commitment to its heritage, Catholic intellectual tradition and Catholic social teaching.

-The Anheuser Busch Foundation generously donates $1 million to Fontbonne, contributing to the renovation of an original campus building — the former Science Building. Additionally, Fontbonne completes an $11.4 million renovation of that building, now known as Anheuser Busch Hall in honor of the foundation. Renovations include the addition of new biology and dietetics laboratories, upgraded classrooms, a state-of-the-art business conference room, a business library and a new student lounge, providing students and faculty with the facilities, space and equipment needed for educational excellence.

-The Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of St. Louis-based Monsanto Co., presents the university with a $100,000 grant to help design and construct a new greenhouse, built on the second floor of the renovated Anheuser-Busch Hall. This gift allows for dramatic updates, improved technology and a more spacious working environment for physical science students.

-The university opens a facility in Brentwood to house the OPTIONS program. The facility remains open and in use by the Fontbonne evening/online division (formerly OPTIONS) through the present.  

-Golden receives the Princeton Award from the Princeton Club of St. Louis in recognition of his professional commitment, personal dedication and inspirational effort.

-The board of trustees votes that all subsequent presidents of Fontbonne must be Catholic.


-Fontbonne earns an unqualified full ten-year accreditation through 2020 from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

-The university completes the successful “Now… More Than Ever” comprehensive campaign for $20 million and sets a national record as being the only university campaign with 100 percent participation from all full-time faculty and staff.

-Fontbonne’s business administration programs receive accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

-Fontbonne and the office of campus ministry initiate a new campus tradition: the Sending Ceremony. Held at the end of each spring semester, the ceremony provides spiritual closure for graduating students and allows members of the Fontbonne community to send them into the world with prayers and blessings.

-Jack Taylor, St. Louis native, philanthropist and founder of Enterprise, the largest car rental service provider in the world, donates $1 million to Fontbonne’s “Now… More Than Ever” comprehensive campaign. The university names the Jack C. Taylor Library in honor of his exceptional generosity and educational support.

-Fontbonne University’s business department becomes the Bonnie and L.B. Eckelkamp College of Global Business and Professional Studies. Bonnie Eckelkamp is a distinguished trustee of the university and L.B. Eckelkamp is the chairman and chief executive of the Bank of Washington (Mo.) and an outstanding civic and business leader. Their financial support and outstanding leadership proved transformational for the university.

-Golden receives the Distinguished Education/Community Service Award from the 25th Anniversary of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. State Celebration Commission of Missouri.

-Emerson Electric Co., worldwide manufacturing and technology leader, bestows upon Fontbonne grants in excess of $500,000, specifically to enhance and upgrade the university’s technology systems. Fontbonne names the Emerson Technology Center in honor of the company’s support.



-The university’s international enrollment grows to an all-time high of 192 and includes students representing 27 different countries.

-Fontbonne’s faculty introduces a redesigned, comprehensive core curriculum. The new requirements emphasize Catholic social teaching, ethics and globalization, and address the issues of culture and the common good embedded in Fontbonne’s mission.  

-The university establishes the College of Education and Communication Sciences and Disorders.

-Deanna Jent, theatre professor, pens an original play called “Falling,” based on her experiences as the parent of a child with severe autism. The play is first produced by Mustard Seed Theatre on Fontbonne’s campus, then Off-Broadway, where it runs for nearly three months before going national and international.

-The women’s softball team excels in intercollegiate competition and is ranked #1 in grade point average among all NCAA Division III schools.

-The women’s soccer team is awarded the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Team Academic Award with a 3.38 team grade point average.

-Fontbonne begins offering blended courses, a combination of online and face-to-face learning.


-Fontbonne celebrates its 90th anniversary as an institution of higher learning.

-Aquinas Institute of Theology and Fontbonne establish a partnership program for undergraduate students majoring in religious studies who aspire to secure a master’s degree.

-The Bosnia Memory Project at Fontbonne University was honored as a 2013 FOCUS St. Louis What’s Right with the Region! awardee in the category of “Improving Racial Equality and Social Justice.”

-Fontbonne hosts the 25th annual Fontbonne University Golf Classic. Cardinal baseball great Red Schoendienst serves as honorary chair; Kim Tucci, renowned St. Louis restauranteur, serves as emcee.

-Fontbonne receives the Export Achievement Certificate from the Commercial Service division of the U.S. Department of Commerce for the university’s excellence in strengthening international relationships. In 2007, Fontbonne enrolled approximately 68 international students from 12 countries. By fall 2012, Fontbonne had enrolled nearly 200 students from 27 countries, accounting for an increase of nearly 180 percent.

-The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet generously donate $750,000 to Fontbonne, a gift intended to meet any pressing financial needs of the university, including student scholarships and additional parking.

-Fontbonne works in collaboration with Concordia Seminary in order to lease three acres of land on which to build a parking lot. With 150 planned spaces, the lot will alleviate the shortage of parking on the university’s main campus.

-After 19 years as president, Dennis C. Golden announces his intent to retire in May 2014. The university begins a search for the 14th president.

-Golden gives the keynote address at the inaugural Convocation of the Doctor of Education/Higher Education Leadership Degree at Maryville University on Dec. 7. Maryville presents him with a Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

-Fontbonne receives the Export Achievement Certificate from the Commercial Service division of the U.S. Department of Commerce for the university’s excellence in strengthening international relationships.


-On Feb. 1, the board of trustees selects J. Michael Pressimone as the 14th president of Fontbonne University. The vice president of advancement at Alvernia University in Reading, Pa., Pressimone has served in various roles in education and higher education for 33 years. He begins his tenure at Fontbonne on July 1.

-The January/February issue of Catholic St. Louis, the magazine of the St. Louis Archdiocese, features a profile on Golden.

-Golden receives an inaugural special service award during the World Affairs Council (WAC) of St. Louis’ 23rd Annual Chinese New Year Celebration. The award recognizes his years of dedicated service to the university. Mark Alexander, instructor of management at Fontbonne, serves as the event’s chair.

-The Student Government Association and Omicron Delta Kappa invite Golden to present an inaugural Last Lecture to the university, an event that takes place April 24.

-On May 8, the university hosts “A Tribute to Leadership and Legacy,” a gala event honoring Golden’s 19 years as president of Fontbonne. The event takes place at the Ritz Carlton and includes cocktails, dinner and a program.

-On May 17, Golden gives the 2014 commencement address for both the undergraduate and graduate ceremonies.

-Golden retires, after 19 years as president of Fontbonne University and 45 years in higher education.