Mark Dienhart

Dienhart to Leave St. Thomas, Run Schulze Family Foundation

Dr. Mark Dienhart, executive vice president and chief operating officer, will leave the University of St. Thomas on July 8 to become president and chief executive officer of the Schulze Family Foundation.

“I consider it a privilege to have had a chance to serve St. Thomas over two tours of duty and, of course, will remain a proud and loyal St. Thomas alumnus for life,” Dienhart said. “I have great fondness and respect for Dick and Maureen Schulze and am excited to be able to help with Dick’s ambitious plans for his family foundation.”

Dick Schulze, founder of Best Buy Co. and a St. Thomas trustee since 1995, created the foundation in 2004. His daughter, Nancy Tellor, served as its founding executive director but has moved out of the area, creating the opening for the position that Dienhart will fill. The foundation has historically focused on grants in education and medical research.

“We are delighted with Mark’s decision to join the Schulze Family Foundation as its new president and CEO,” Schulze said. “Mark has had a meaningful impact at every turn of his career at St. Thomas. His knowledge will provide insight and experience to our mission of creating transformational change for mankind.”

Father Dennis Dease, president of St. Thomas, congratulated Dienhart on his new position and thanked Dienhart for exceptional leadership during a period in which the university increased its undergraduate enrollment, constructed several new buildings and raised $515 million in the Opening Doors capital campaign. Dienhart directed the campaign.

“Mark had both the vision and the organizational skills to accomplish a great deal during the time of a challenging recession and escalating competition for students,” Dease said. “He always has had the highest standards and worked tirelessly to carry out each and every task. His contributions have been enormous and will be felt for many years.”

In his new role, Dienhart will continue to work closely with the university in support of the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship. In addition, to ensure the university has the continued benefit of his institutional knowledge and experience, Dienhart has agreed to serve as an advisor to Dr. Julie Sullivan, who will succeed Dease as president of St. Thomas on July 1, and to work on special projects as requested by Sullivan.

During Dienhart’s tenure leading the university’s non-academic administrative units, St. Thomas has:

  • Improved its financial strength and maintained balanced budgets. Net assets have grown 63 percent over the last 10 years and endowment assets have grown 68 percent.
  • Increased undergraduate student enrollment 21 percent, from 5,241 in 2003 to 6,336 in 2012, including freshman classes that have exceeded 1,300 in every year except one since 2005. Applications have doubled over that time.
  • Raised $515 million in the Opening Doors capital campaign, which concluded last October. The amount exceeded what was raised in the previous four capital campaigns combined and in the process the number of individual donors grew from 6,413 in 2001 to 15,300 in 2012. “Mark’s leadership as director of Opening Doors will provide the university with incredible opportunities to carry out its mission and vision – opportunities that would not have been available with a less successful campaign,” Dease said.
  • Built and opened seven major buildings, including two in Minneapolis (School of Law and Schulze Hall) and five in St. Paul (Flynn Residence Hall, McNeely Hall, the Anderson Parking Facility, the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex and the Anderson Student Center). The Anderson buildings have greatly enhanced on-campus experiences for students, faculty, staff and alumni and have received national recognition and accolades from the community.
  • Achieved extraordinary success in athletic programs. Five teams have won national championships in the past 10 years and 10 teams have finished in the top five in Division III over the last three years. The men’s and women’s athletic teams have swept the MIAC All-Sports Championships for six straight years.

Dienhart, a Minneapolis native, is a 1975 summa cum laude graduate of St. Thomas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy. He holds two degrees – a master’s in journalism and mass communications and a doctorate in higher education administration – from the University of Minnesota.

A member of the St. Thomas Athletic Hall of Fame, he was an All-American in track and field as a national champion and national record-holder in the shot put, and an All-American and two-time Academic All-American in football. He won the 1975 Tommie Award, given annually to the senior who best exemplifies the ideals of the university.

Dienhart held several jobs, including two head-coaching positions, at St. Thomas after graduation. He was named men’s track and field coach in 1980 and football coach in 1981. His football teams compiled a 44-14-1 record in six seasons, winning the MIAC title with a 9-0 record in 1983 and going on to St. Thomas’ first national playoff game. His track and field teams won four indoor and four outdoor MIAC titles and won the NCAA Division III indoor championship in 1984.

He left coaching after the 1986 football season to serve as executive director of public and alumni affairs until 1990, when he joined the University of Minnesota as an associate athletic director. He was promoted to senior associate athletic director in 1992 and athletic director in 1995. He left the university in 1999 and was a senior vice president in consumer banking at US Bank until he returned to St. Thomas in 2001 as senior vice president for institutional advancement. He was later promoted to his current role.