Joan Lescinski

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Sr. Joan Lescinski, CSJ, Ph.D.
Born 1947
Albany, New York, USA
Nationality American
Known for President of St. Mary-of-the-Woods College, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana
President of St. Ambrose University, Davenport, Iowa

Sr. Joan Lescinski, CSJ, PhD, is the 13th president of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. She is the first woman to lead the university in its 125-year history. Lescinski, who is also a noted scholar in English literature, took office in the summer of 2007, succeeding Dr. Edward Rogalski, who retired after 20 years as the university’s president.


A native of Albany, New York, Lescinski is the daughter of Joseph and Lucy Lescinski.[1] Sr. Joan professed religious vows as a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St. Louis, Missouri in 1965. In 1970 she received a bachelor's degree and in 1974 a master's degree in English literature from the College of St. Rose in Albany. She earned a doctorate in 1981 from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.[2]

Lescinski started her teaching career at an inner-city Catholic high school in Utica, New York.[1] She has taught at the college level since 1972. From 1979-1991, she worked as a professor of English at the College of St. Rose; from 1991-1993 she served as associate dean, academic affairs and professor of English at Avila University in Kansas City, Missouri; and from 1993-1998 she served as vice president of academic affairs, dean and professor of English at Fontbonne University in St. Louis, Missouri, before becoming president and professor of English at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College from 1998-2007.[3]

St. Mary-of-the-Woods College, "The Woods", is the oldest Catholic liberal arts women's college in the United States. She led SMWC to record gains in enrollment, facilitated the development of institutional strategic and master plans, and introduced several undergraduate and two new graduate academic programs. SMWC invested $10 million in campus facilities and experienced a significant increase in its number of donors. Lescinski led the most ambitious capital campaign in SMWC’s history with $25 million raised, exceeding their campaign goal by 20 percent.

St. Ambrose has expanded since Lescinski became president there. In 2009 the school's Master of Organizational Leadership degree program moved to the New Ventures Center downtown Davenport.[4] The same year ground was broken for a new Health Sciences building on the Genesis Medical Center West Central Park campus.[5] The university also purchased the headquarters building and property of the Diocese of Davenport while they were in bankruptcy. They sold the building and a small portion of the land back to the diocese in 2010.[6]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Dooley, Sheena. "Sister Joan takes reins at St. Ambrose". Quad-City Times. Retrieved 2010-07-15. 
  2. "Biography". Retrieved 2010-07-15. 
  3. Dooley, Sheena. "SAU makes history with new president". Quad-City Times. Retrieved 2010-07-15. 
  4. Schorpp, Doug. "St. Ambrose moves into New Ventures". Quad-City Times. Retrieved 2010-07-15. 
  5. Geyer, Thomas. "St. Ambrose to build health building". Quad-City Times. Retrieved 2010-07-15. 
  6. McGlynn, Ann. "Diocese reclaims HQ in $1.2M post-bankruptcy deal". Quad-City Times. Retrieved 2010-07-15. 

Academic offices
Preceded by
Edward Rogalski
President of St. Ambrose University
Preceded by
Barbara Doherty, SP
President of St. Mary-of-the-Woods College
Succeeded by
David Behrs