Press Release

Alverno College Cancels Classes For One Day So Students Can Volunteer

April 15, 2015

Community Day 2011 001

Classes will be cancelled until 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 22 at Alverno College for its 15th annual Community Day. The day of service is set aside each year so that students, faculty and staff can volunteer at over a dozen locations throughout southeastern Wisconsin. Some of this year’s sites include South Shore Beach, Hunger Task Force Farm, Habitat for Humanity ReStore and Stepping Stones Farms.

“Alverno Community Day provides an opportunity for the entire campus to come together and put what we teach and learn into collective and meaningful service to our community,” said Mary J Meehan, Ph.D., president of Alverno College. “Service is at the very heart of our mission and this annual tradition is a tangible reminder of what can be accomplished when we join together with a united purpose.”

Since Community Day began, more than 5,000 students, faculty and staff have volunteered more than 14,000 hours of service to the Milwaukee community. This year, more than 400 people are expected to part in Community Day.

Categories: Press Release

Exploring Health Innovations Inspired by the Care of Military Personnel

March 24, 2015

Many military advancements in healthcare, inspired by the care of active duty personnel and veterans, have contributed to new developments in healthcare in local, regional and global communities. Some of these advancements include prosthetic and sensory aids for missing limbs, and trauma procedures designed to maximize emergency care are now considered standard medical practice. The next Alverno Forum will explore these innovations and the impact they have had on healthcare for the general public.

Presenters from the Clement J. Zablocki Veterans Affairs Medical Center include:

  • Linda Bay, Clinical Nurse Specialist (panel moderator)
  • Susan Giulianetti, Nurse Practitioner, Polytrauma Team
  • Darcie Greuel, OEF/OIF/OND Program Manager
  • Beth Hammer, Program Manager for Nursing Excellence
  • Jennifer Kiefer, Polytrauma Social Worker/Fisher House Manager

The Alverno Forum series seeks to join community leaders in discussing cutting-edge topics that have a daily impact on the lives of people in our community and beyond. The next discussion in this year’s series takes place on Thursday, March 26 at 6:00 p.m. in the Sister Joel Read Conference Center. The Alverno Forum series is free and open to the public. For more details, please visit our website at

Categories: Press Release

Sister Austin Doherty’s Influence Left an Indelible Mark on Alverno College

March 23, 2015


Sister Austin Doherty, SSSF, who passed away on February 8, 2015 will be remembered for her influential leadership at Alverno College. A service will be held in her honor on Tuesday, March 24 at 4:00 p.m. in the Chapel of Mary Immaculate.

Doherty left an indelible mark on the College in her 46 years of service. She played a crucial role in the development of Alverno’s world-renowned ability-based curriculum and student assessment model in the early 1970s. More than 40 years later, students continue to demonstrate a mastery of eight core abilities before graduation, and educators from around the world come to Alverno to learn its teaching methods.

“Austin was a great leader in the education of women and an innovator in higher education,” said Kathleen O’Brien, SSSF, senior vice president of Academic Affairs. “We owe much of our collaborative vision and commitment to her insightful leadership.”

In addition to her input into the ground-breaking curriculum, Doherty founded the College’s Psychology department in 1968, and went on to chair that department until 1975. She also co-founded the Alverno College Research Center for Women in 1970, which began as a resource center, research facility and outreach center for and about women. Today The Alverno CollegeResearch Center for Women and Girls is devoted to taking scholarly research out of the world of academia and into the real world where it can inspire, transform and support initiatives that improve the lives of women and girls in Wisconsin and beyond. The center also partners with community agencies to evaluate programs, fosters discussion about important issues and identifies emerging research topics that can make a difference in women’s lives.

Doherty went on to serve as academic dean from 1978 to 1991, and as vice president for Academic Affairs from 1982 to 1999.  In these roles she helped formulate and implement the educational goals of the College, as well as collaborated with faculty and academic staff. From 1999 to 2005 Doherty acted as the director of the Alverno College Institute, which facilitates the seminars for educators across the country and across the world who want to bring Alverno’s ability-based curriculum to their institutions. She served as a special assistant to Academic Affairs from 2005 to 2013.

Above all, Doherty was a well-respected and dedicated scholar. Many of her colleagues remember how she poured over journals, books and reports in search of a better understanding of how Alverno could give its students more room and opportunity to grow. She was also incredibly connected to students, roaming from table to table in the commons over the noon hour cheering them on and challenging them to be their best.

Categories: Press Release

Alverno College to Host Screening of Vel Phillips Documentary

March 23, 2015

Alverno College will host a screening of the documentary Vel Phillips: Dream Big Dreams on April 16 at 7 p.m.. The event will take place in Pitman Theatre, and is free and open to the public.

Phillips, who was the first woman and the first African American to ever sit on Milwaukee’s Common Council, will be in attendance. The documentary, produced by Wisconsin Public Television, examines her pioneering political career and her extensive civil rights advocacy. Phillips’ story is told through interviews with family and friends, including Hall of Fame baseball player Henry Aaron, former Wisconsin Governor Patrick Lucey, Phillips’ son Michael Phillips, and Phillips herself. The film explores how she rose to become one of the state’s most prominent civil rights leaders, and later becoming Wisconsin Secretary of State, making her the first African American woman elected to executive state office in the United States.

Phillips will take part in a talk back after the film, along with Margaret Rozga, wife of the late civil rights activist James Groppi. The screening is part of a statewide engagement project bringing communities together to discuss race relations in the 21st century. To learn more about the statewide project, please visit To learn more about other events on the Alverno College campus related to social justice, please visit

While there is no cost to attend the screening, participants are asked to preregister at

Categories: Press Release

President Mary J. Meehan announces plans to step down as president of Alverno College

March 16, 2015

Mary Meehan 200x300

President Mary J. Meehan, Ph.D., who has led Alverno College through more than a decade of remarkable growth and progress, will step down in June 2016. Meehan began her tenure as the seventh president and first lay president of the College in May 2004, and is one of the longest tenured college presidents in the state.

“I am deeply grateful for the incredible dedication of each and every member of our Alverno Board of Trustees, faculty, staff and strong leadership team,” said Meehan. “Alverno’s successes have been the collaborative efforts of hundreds who every day show an unwavering commitment to our students and our mission.”

Speaking on behalf of the School Sisters of St. Francis, the community that sponsors Alverno, Sister Carol Rigali said, “Dr. Meehan has led Alverno with a Franciscan spirit of personalized learning, generosity, service to the greater good and joy in that service.  Her deep understanding of higher education locally and nationally has put the College on solid footing to ensure a strong future dedicated to advancing women.” Sister Carol Rigali currently serves as a member of the U.S. Provincial Leadership Team.

The timing is right for a leadership transition. Meehan just successfully completed a $30 million capital campaign, the most significant milestone of her career, and her contract is up at the end of the 2015/2016 academic year. The Alverno College Board of Trustees will be embarking upon a nationwide search for a new president. “The board is looking forward to the input of the campus community in this important work,” said Mary Beth Berkes ’75, Chair of the Alverno Board of Trustees. “As an alumna of Alverno, I am especially proud of the bold accomplishments Mary has led, and we are very committed to ensuring a smooth transition.”

Meehan’s Legacy of Leadership

Paul Purcell, CEO of Robert W. Baird and member of the Executive Committee of Alverno’s Board of Trustees, credits Meehan for her leadership during a time of great change in higher education. “Mary forged partnerships with the local community, raised Alverno to new levels of educational excellence and transformed the campus and culture to meet the changing needs of its students” said Purcell.  “What she and her team have been able to accomplish is nothing short of remarkable.” Meehan’s tenure is marked with bold achievements in expanded academic offerings, increased student services and dramatic changes to Alverno’s campus.

An Enhanced Campus Community

  • In 2006, a substantial campus beautification and enhancement project added new NCAA athletic fields, lush exterior landscaping, new roadways and the addition of the beautiful Reiman Plaza to create a more reflective and inspiring setting for teaching and learning.
  • In response to the need for expanded on-campus living, Clare Hall was renovated in 2008 into a residence hall thanks to record donations from alumnae.
  • Earlier this year, Alverno announced that it had surpassed its $30 million capital campaign goal in December, raising a total of $32,793,000. The expansion and renovation, which broke ground in March of 2014, is the most significant enhancement in the college’s 128-year history.Improvements include a new classroom building, a state-of-the-art nursing simulation center for the JoAnn McGrath School of Nursing and the creation of a new, larger student commons to enhance the student experience.

Expanded Academic Offerings

  • Alverno’s graduate programs have seen dramatic growth from just one master’s program in Education to now include:  an MBA, a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), a Master of Science in Community Psychology (MSCP), an MSN-Family Nurse Practitioner track and an MSN-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner track, and expanded licensure tracks in the Education program, including Special Education and a Licensure to Master’s program. Graduate student enrollment is nearing 700 students.
  • In 2013, Alverno launched the innovative Alverno Advantage programs to meet the needs of returning adult students. These accelerated bachelor’s completion programs combine in-classroom and online learning, while still ensuring students master the rigorous requirements of Alverno’s ability based curriculum.
  • In 2009, Meehan led the launch of Alverno’s Research Center for Women and Girls, the only center of its kind in the Midwest. The Center’s “Status of Girls in Wisconsin” report has since inspired similar reports in several states.

Increased Student Services

  • Co-curricular activities have expanded to more than 70 student organizations.
  •  Alverno’s NCAA III athletics program has dramatically grown to include seven sports and 80 student athletes recruited from throughout the Midwest.
  • A campus-wide Student Success initiative provides increased advising, mentoring and career planning services to ensure Alverno students are well-prepared to be leaders in their workplaces, communities and homes.

A Positive Impact on the Greater Community

In addition to her leadership at Alverno, Meehan has served higher education locally and nationally on the boards of Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (Chair), Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU), the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), the Women’s College Coalition, the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, Georgian Court University, Loras College, and as a member of the NCAA Division III Chancellors/Presidents Council.

Locally, Meehan has been a leader in the Greater Milwaukee community through directing important initiatives such as the Milwaukee Public Museum Recovery Task Force (Chair) and the Greater Milwaukee Committee’s Health Care Policy Task Force (Co-Chair) and Well City Initiative (Co-Chair). She has also served the boards of: Sacred Heart School of Theology (Chair), Aurora Visiting Nurses Association (Chair), Froedert Health, Grand Avenue Club and Milwaukee Achiever Literacy Service.

She has received numerous awards and recognition both nationally and locally including Seton Hall University’s Woman of the Year, Professional Dimensions Sacagawea Award and the Business Journal’s Women of Influence. In addition, she was recently awarded the Tempo Mentorship Award.