Saint Mary’s 10th president, Brother Peter Clifford, dies

Saint Mary’s 10th president, Brother Peter Clifford, dies


Brother Peter Clifford

Brother Peter Clifford

WINONA, Minn. — Brother Peter Clifford, FSC, the 10th president of Saint Mary’s University, passed away Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at De La Salle Hall in Lincroft, N.J.

A dedicated educational visionary and financial steward, Brother Peter served as president of Saint Mary’s from 1976 to 1984, and is credited for bringing fiscal security to the college. Brother Peter also fostered close relationships between Saint Mary’s and the city of Winona by being an active member of the community. During his presidency, he served on the boards of both the Winona Chamber of Commerce and Norwest Bank.

Additionally, he initiated the first graduate course offerings in the Twin Cities and laid the financial groundwork for the Performance Center and the ice arena on the Winona campus.

Brother Peter was born in the Bronx in New York City on Feb. 17, 1925. He graduated from St. Jerome’s School in the Bronx in 1939 and entered the Junior Novitiate of the Christian Brothers in Barrytown, N.Y.  He entered to the Brothers Novitiate in 1943, made his first vows in 1944, and made his final vows in 1950.

Brother Peter studied history at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., received his B.A. degree in Education from Manhattan College in 1950, and an M.A. degree in History from Fordham University in 1957. In 1968, he received a CAS degree in Educational Administration from Harvard University. In 1970, he received an Ed.D. degree in Educational Administration, also from Harvard.

Brother Peter’s ministry career was varied. He taught at grammar schools, served as a missionary in the Philippines, acted as the academic dean at De La Salle College in Manila, served as an administrator at a variety of high schools, worked for the Catholic Schools office in Brooklyn, N.Y., and acted as the executive secretary for secondary schools at the National Catholic Education Association.

Brother Peter’s ministry in higher education began as an academic dean at St. John’s University in Jamaica, Queen, before coming to Saint Mary’s.

After the conclusion of his work at Saint Mary’s, Brother Peter served as Provincial of the LINE District of the Brothers of the Christian Schools for three years and for two years as an Assistant in Higher Education for the U.S. Catholic Conference in Washington, D.C.  His last college connection was as President of St. Mary’s College in Leavenworth, Kan., from 1989 to 1994.

Brother Peter then became Director of Finance for the LINE District of the Brothers of the Christian Schools.  He moved back to Winona in 2000 and worked as a vice president for the Metanoia Group, a consulting enterprise at Saint Mary’s University, until 2002.  He then moved back to Rhode Island where he became Assistant to the President of Ocean Tides, a residential center for delinquents, until his illness this year.

A wake for Brother Peter will be held at the Christian Brothers Center in Narragansett, R.I., on Thursday, July 25, and Friday, July 26, 2013.  A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at Christian Brothers Center on Friday, July 26, 2013 at 11 a.m.

Brother William Mann, FSC, President, will represent Saint Mary’s University at the wake, Mass, and burial.

“Brother Peter will be remembered for his unwavering faith, his strong leadership and for establishing a solid financial foundation at Saint Mary’s, enabling us to significantly expand our reach and educational reputation,” Brother William said. “Those who worked alongside Brother Peter will also remember his kindness, generosity and enduring spirit. He will be missed.”


  1. My Husband, Bill, and I have known Brother Peter since his niece, Patti Clifford McKillip, married our son, Bob, over 25 years ago. Brother Peter and I had a mutual interest in that I graduated from The College
    of St. Teresa which is now part of St Mary’s. I graduated from CST in 1957. Even though our paths did
    not cross at that time, we shared many stories about faculty members we knew from each school.
    Brother Peter was a visionary in the higher educational community and also just a really wonderful person
    He will be missed.

    Betty McKillip

  2. Peter goes back in my life to my eighth grade at Good Shepherd in the
    early ’50’s. Almost thirty years later he was my next-door neighbor in
    the five-Brother St. Yon’s Community at St. Mary’s in Winona. He was
    a devoted Brother, wonderful neighbor, great friend, enlightened
    administrator and a very strong impetus to my entering the Brothers in
    1952. My memories of Peter are countless and very warming
    resulting from his subtle humor, common sense and willingness to
    St. Mary’s exists today because of Peter Clifford.

  3. I was fortunate enough to get to know and work with Brother Peter when he returned to Saint Mary’s Winona campus in 2000 to work with The Metanoia Group. He was a wonderful mentor, and I feel blessed to call him friend. Even after he returned to Narragansett, he remained in contact with me, never letting a Christmas pass without sending a handwritten card to my family. I will always remember his kindness.

    Eternal rest, grant unto him, and let perpetual light shine upon him.