Saint Mary's Groundbreaking 01

Brother William Mann, president of Saint Mary's University, middle, helps break ground Tuesday afternoon at the future site of Brother William Hall at Saint Mary's University. Mann will step down as president this May.

WINONA, Minn. — Saint Mary’s University broke ground Tuesday on a $6.9 million residence hall that will be named for its outgoing president.

Brother William Mann, who has led the university since 2008 and is retiring this spring, said the project is part of SMU’s long-term plan to improve student housing and grow enrollment — but that he never expected the hall to bear his name.

According to the university, the construction of Brother William Hall will be covered entirely by anonymous donations from two families. It’s scheduled to open in the fall of 2019.

“I am deeply touched and profoundly grateful,” Mann said during a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday. Dozens of students, professors and alumni gathered in a tent at the northeast corner of campus, where the three-story hall will stand.

Brother William Hall, which will adjoin Pines Hall and allow for the demolition of St. Edward’s Living Learning Center, will resemble an apartment building rather than a traditional dorm.

There will be two beds per room — 112 beds in all — with a private bathroom in each unit.

Shared living spaces will give students a view of the valley and the city of Winona, as well as the park that runs beside St. Mary’s Hall.

Audrey Kintzi, vice president for development and alumni relations, said it will be the kind of residence hall that students today are looking for — one with privacy but plenty of communal space.

“This gives us the opportunity to take down an old building and put up a new one that will hopefully attract more students,” said Kintzi, who’s in charge of fundraising for the school’s capital projects, of which there has been a spike during Mann’s tenure.

During Mann’s decade as president, SMU has spent $33.1 million on new construction, $13.8 million on land acquisition and $6.6 million on building renovation.

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Kyle Farris reports on education for the La Crosse Tribune. Reach him at (608) 791-8234 or

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