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Services for Former Mount Mary President

Sister Ruth Hollenbach

Sister Ruth Hollenbach

"I have never doubted that my passion for learning and my desire to be a teacher were God’s special blessing for me,” she said. “To have spent 70 years of my life actively engaged in education has been true fulfillment and happiness."

Sister Ruth Hollenbach led the institution through record-breaking enrollment and numerous facility upgrades.

Sister Ruth Hollenbach, SSND, former president of Mount Mary University, died Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016. She was 91 years old.

During her tenure from 1987 to 1995, she led the institution through record-breaking enrollment and numerous facility upgrades, such as the renovation of the lower level of the Haggerty library, which now houses the campus technology center and computer labs. Mount Mary, which was considered a College at the time, celebrated its 75th anniversary the same year Hollenbach arrived.

“As we become more firmly entrenched in the new ‘Information Age,’ Mount Mary, in many ways, will have to change with the times,” she wrote in a reflection for the anniversary. “But the college’s mission will continue to be the education of women to be better persons and to fulfill their role in making this a better world. Even in a high technological age, Mount Mary will continue to foster Christian values.”

In her inaugural speech, the president said she hoped every woman who left Mount Mary would leave with “a longing for peace, a better sense of justice and concern for the Earth and its resources." 

In a 1989 interview with the Milwaukee Sentinel, Hollenbach said, “women who are truly fully competent can also be understanding, open-minded and compassionate. These are special characteristics of women that are so desperately needed in business, government and all the professions.

“Maybe women have a special challenge to be persons of integrity no matter how high they go, no matter where they are on that road to success.”

Eileen Schwalbach, president of the University, said Hollenbach’s mission to create “educated, professional women of integrity” continues today as the University continues its emphasis on both academics and Catholic social teaching. “The leadership and vision of Sisters such as Sister Ruth Hollenbach have created an environment where scores of women have been transformed by creativity and compassion. Our graduates are leaders who change their world through their chosen pursuits,” Schwalbach said.

Sister Ruth was the University’s fifth president. Some notable University accomplishments from her tenure include the launch of the Master of Science in Art Therapy program; the development of the Master of Arts in Education: Professional Development program; and the accreditation of the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program.

In 2015, Sister Ruth celebrated her 70th Jubilee as a School Sister of Notre Dame. Prior to her tenure at Mount Mary University, she helped found and served as Director of the Maria Center in South St. Louis and taught special education for the St. Louis Province. She had also served as professor and administrator at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan, from 1967-1978.

Sister Ruth earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and science from Webster College in 1952; and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame in 1957 and 1960, respectively.

"I have never doubted that my passion for learning and my desire to be a teacher were God’s special blessing for me,” she said. “To have spent 70 years of my life actively engaged in education has been true fulfillment and happiness," she said at her Jubilee celebration last year.