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130 Years & Counting! Highlights from Alverno's History


Dr. Mary Meehan in 2004
“At Alverno, we all strive to make our decisions based on a model of civic engagement rooted in respect for others, the courage to speak up when others are silent, and compassion for all people.”
- Dr. Mary Meehan


Mary J. Meehan, Ph.D. assumed the role of Alverno College President on June 1, 2004 marking a new era at Alverno as the seventh president and first lay person to lead the college.

Dr. Meehan brought to the college her extensive leadership experience in the areas of education, health care and administration. Those qualities aided her in building upon Alverno’s reputation as a leader and innovator in education. The initiatives that Meehan spearheaded during her twelve year tenure included two major campus building projects and enhancements in 2006 and 2014, expanded undergraduate and graduate level academic offerings, and increased student services to assist Alverno students in reaching their educational goals. Meehan truly was a builder, one who changed the environment of Alverno College both inside and out.

On June 1,  2004, Dr. Mary J. Meehan became Alverno's seventh President. Her inauguration was on October 8, 2004.

Dr. mary J. Meehan


In 2005, Zohreh Emami stepped down from her position as an Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs.       

Zohreh Emami

Zohreh Emami



MSN Program Quote by Sister Judeen Schulte from Winter/Spring 2005 Alverno Magazine
 From the Winter/Spring 2005 issue of Alverno Magazine p. 10 -11.

Work on the new Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) began in earnest in 2002. After three years of intense planning and designing, the MSN was first offered in Fall 2005 which happily coincided with the 75th Anniversary celebration for the nursing program. Targeted at practicing professionals interested in advancing their careers, it is a first-of-its-kind, ability-based program with a focus on nursing education and clinical practice designed for registered nurses who currently teach or wish to teach.


First MSN Class, Fall 2005



Article about Austin Hall, Alverno Alpha, November 2005
From the November 2005 issue of  Alverno Alpha (Student Newspaper) p. 1.

On the evening of November 8, 2005 (only a few weeks after celebrating the building's 40th Anniversary at Homecoming,) President Mary Meehan announced that the Campus Center would be renamed in honor of Sr. Austin Doherty, whose service and dedication to Alverno exemplified the spirit of the foundresses of the School Sisters of St. Francis.

Mary made the announcement at the Celebration of Giving dinner, where the School Sisters were presented the Bene award for the generous support they've provided to Alverno College during its 118-year history. Mary commented that no one on campus has led a more student-centered life than Austin and it was fitting that a place where students lived, worked and studied should be named in her honor.




Spring 2006 Alverno Magazine Article about Alverno's new MBA program
 From the Spring 2006 issue of Alverno Magazine p. 6-7.

Long anticipated and much requested, Alverno launched its third graduate program, an MBA, in Fall 2006. Designed to draw upon a student's own experiences, the Alverno program is unique. It is "ability-based, assessment-modeled, highly experiential and centered on the student as an individual learner."




Winter 2007 Alverno Magazine Cover - Photo of "Soaring"
From Alverno Magazine, Winter 2007, this photo includes the new sculpture, "Soaring" by Arizona artist Lyle London which was placed in the Reiman Plaza outside of the Teaching, Learning and Technology Center as a part of the campus beautification project. (Photo by Lyle London)


 43rd Street Entrance to Alverno College Campus 

From the Winter 2007 issue of Alverno Magazine, p. 3. 


          New Athletic Fields- Alverno Magazine Winter 2007 Photo

From the Winter 2007 issue of Alverno Magazine, p. 5.

On October 7, 2006 during a special grounds dedication ceremony, the Alverno community thanked trustee, Roy Reiman and his wife Bobbi for their generous gift through the Reiman Foundation which enabled the campus beautification project. The project included monumental signs to mark all major entrances and borders, major landscaping improvements, a new 500-car parking garage, a plaza outside the Rotunda building named for the Reimans, and NCAA-regulation softball and soccer fields.

Additionally, as part of the project, the college obtained new building signage and two buildings were renamed in honor of School Sisters of St. Francis who had an impact on campus. The former Alverno Elementary School building, most recently called "North Hall" and which houses Alverno Childcare Services (now known as the Alverno Early Learning Center), was renamed Elizabeth Hall in honor of Sr. Elizabeth Engel, a leader in the School of Education. The Nursing Building was renamed Christopher Hall in honor of Sr. Christopher McGuire, founder of the School of Nursing.


In 2007,  Kathy Lake became an Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs.

Kathy Lake


Also in 2007, The George Lucas Foundation named Alverno College one of the nation's ten leading schools for teacher education.


In the fall of 2007 the first Status of Girls in Wisconsin Report was released by Alverno College, Girls Scouts of Milwaukee Area, Inc., Girls Scouts of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Women's Council, and the Women's Fund of Greater Milwaukee.  Alverno College was an integral part of this research project that looked at the lives of girls ages 10-19 and the impact of socio-economic factors on their health, education, future employment and their aspirations.

The Alverno research team included Sandra Graham, Chair; Megan Kemmet, primary research coordinator; Russell Brooker; Austin Doherty; Kimberly Miller; Kathleen O'Brien; Julie Rice and Julie Ullman. Updates to this first report were released in April 2010.

Cover from the First Status of Girls in Wisconsin Report, 2007



Clare Hall Rededication as depicted in November 2008 issue of Alverno Alpha
The Clare Hall dedication during Homecoming on October 4, 2008  was featured in the November 2008 issue of Alverno Alpha (Student Newspaper)

During the Summer of 2008, Clare hall was extensively remodeled and renovated to better meet the needs of current and future students.The renovation occurred thanks to the generous contributions from alumnae donors through the Clare Hall Initiative. The Initiative was led by a committee of alumnae dedicated to the Franciscan mission and the college's future.

As part of the Homecoming festivities, members of the Alverno College community celebrated on October 4, 2008 when the newly renovated Clare Hall, a fixture on the Alverno campus for more than 50 years, was dedicated to current and future students.


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Dr. Mary Meehan recieves Sacagawea Award, Alverno Magazine Spring 2009
  Alverno Magazine Spring 2009, p. 26.

On March 11, 2009, Alverno College President Mary J. Meehan was one of two recipients to receive the Sacagawea Award from Professional Dimensions. Alverno College has housed the permanent collection of the Sacagawea Awards since 1993.



RCWG Opening Announcement, Fall 2009

Alverno's new Research Center for Women and Girls (RCWG) opened in Fall 2009. Kate Masley was hired as its director.

The mission of the new center was to act as a clearinghouse for data on girls and women for girl- and women-serving agencies in the region; to be a resource center open to the public; to organize events such as workshops, forums, debates, lectures, symposiums, conferences and film series exploring issues impacting the lives of women and girls; and to produce research on relevant issues. First research projects included focusing on girl aggression, teen pregnancy, racial/ethnic health disparities in infant health outcomes, body image/self esteem, and encouraging more girls to become interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).

Click here to learn more about Alverno's  Research Center for Women and Girls.


Also in 2009,  the Alverno Childcare Center was renamed the Alverno Early Learning Center.

In October 2009, U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan "singled out Alverno College as a shining star; a school that does an exemplary job in training and preparing teachers for the classroom."

In June 2010, the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and the Walmart Foundation selected Alverno College to receive a $100,000 CIC/Walmart College Success Award. The funds were used to create the Promise Scholars Program for first generation student support. 


Also in 2010, two new specialties in Alverno's Master of Arts program were launched: a Special Education Licensure-to-Masters program and a World Humanities specialization. Calandra Lockhart was hired as program coordinator for Special Education.

New Special Ed Masters program, 2010
Alverno Magazine Spring/Summer 2010, p. 13



Women and Gender Studies Flyer, p.1

Alverno's new weekday major and minor in Women's and Gender Studies began in Fall 2010. The program integrates multiple disciplinary perspectives with feminist theory to explore issues such as race, ethnicity, sexuality, class and religion. Courses are drawn from a variety of disciplines such as psychology, history, philosophy, and art. 
Learn more about Women's & Gender Studies at Alverno...

Women's and Gender Studies Flyer, p.2

Both images taken from a flyer that was used to promote Alverno's new
Women's and Gender Studies Program.



In 2011, Tim Riordan stepped down from his position and Jeana Abromeit became an Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs.

Tim Riordan       Jeana Abromeit
 Tim Riordan and Jeana Abromeit                                          



Alverno began offering a new Master of Science in Community Psychology and Counseling in 2011. 
Learn more about this program...



New Family Nurse Practioner Program

A new specialty in the Master of Science in Nursing Program: Family Nurse Practitioner also was launched in 2011.   




Alverno 125th Anniversary Logo
In 2012, Alverno College celebrated it's 125th anniversary.




Photo of Newly renamed Joel Read Center

Alverno College renamed the Teaching, Learning and Technology Center the Sister Joel Read Center in 2012 honoring its longest-serving president, Sister Joel Read (1968-2003.)

The renaming ceremony took place on Saturday, October 6, 2012 as part of the college’s 125th anniversary Homecoming celebration.



Graduation photo of JoAnn Resch McGrath             

Alverno’s School of Nursing received a very generous gift from JoAnn Resch McGrath, a 1957 alumna of the nursing school. To recognize her vision and loyalty to the nursing program at Alverno, the college renamed the School of Nursing the JoAnn McGrath School of Nursing on October 6, 2012 during the college’s 125th  anniversary Homecoming celebration.  A panel of distinguished nursing alumnae spoke during a special luncheon honoring JoAnn McGrath. The alumnae panel included: Jean Bartels ’81, Vivien De Back’54, Norma Lang ’61, Cathy Rick ’71.


Also in 2012, the National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs (NAC) announced that Alverno Early Learning Center had been awarded accreditation. As a NAC accredited center, Alverno Early Learning Center was recognized as an early care and education program that exemplifies excellence in the care of young children.  
Learn more about the Alverno Early Learning Center...


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Sister Joelo Read and Howard Gardner

On April 18, 2013  Harvard's Dr. Howard Gardner received the inaugural "Sister Joel Read Outstanding Educator Award" 


Alverno College launched a redesigned RN to BSN program in June of 2013. The 18-month program, a blend of online and in-classroom learning, is structured so that working registered nurses can earn their Bachelor’s degree.


The Master of Science in Nursing program was expanded with a new Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Track
in fall 2013.


Alverno College began a new BA in management completion program in October of 2013. The program is flexible, blending online and in-classroom learning so that women with an Associate Degree can complete their Bachelor’s degree in 18 months.

The curriculum includes: Innovative Business Development, Global Business Environment & Strategy, Sustainability & Technology in a Changing World, Marketing, Branding & Customer Relationships and Financial Analysis & Decision-Making, among others.



Promise & Piower Announcement p.1

Promise & Power Announcement, p.2

On December 10, 2013, Alverno College announced a $30 million expansion and renovation project. Called Promise & Power, it was the largest in the college's history.



Promise & Power Alverno Magazine Cover

On March 18, 2014 a ground breaking ceremony was held for the Promise & Power expansion and renovation project.



New Alverno Logo- 2014

In spring 2014, the college rebranding initiative was launched.


The end of phase 1 of the Promise & Power expansion and renovation project was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the new La Verna Commons on August 25, 2014.




Photo of the Heritage Garden under construction, 2014

The Heritage Garden located outside the new LaVerna Commons and created to honor the School Sisters of St. Francis who have served Alverno, although not yet completed, was dedicated on October 3, 2014 during Homecoming.



Promise & Power Accomplishments, part 1 Promise & Power Accomplishments, part 2

In January 2015, construction was completed on the $30 million Promise & Power expansion and renovation project, the largest in Alverno's history.


Alexia Hall Mother Alexia Hoell

Alexia Hall, named for School Sisters of St. Francis Foundress, Mother Alexia Hoell,  pened its doors in January 2015.   Take a Virtual Tour!

Visit the exhibit, What's in a Name? The Names and Places of Alverno College [PDF] to learn more about places and spaces on campus.



Sister Austin Doherty

Sister Austin Doherty, SSSF, passed away on February 8, 2015. A former Vice president of Academic Affairs, 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 1970's. 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. 

Visit the exhibit,  Sister Austin Doherty, SSSF: A Life of Service and Education, August 10, 1927 - February 8, 2015 [PDF]  to learn more about her life.



Cover of the first College Bulletin for the new flexible Adult Evening and Online Degree Program
Cover of the first College Bulletin for the new flexible Adult Evening and Online Degree Program


In June 2015, Alverno announced a new flexible Adult Evening and Online degree program to be launched in Fall.



A new Communication degree program that combines communication strategy with emerging technology was launched in Fall 2015.



Sister Kathleen O'Brien Kathy Lake
Sister Kathleen O'Brien and Kathy Lake

In December 2015, Sister Kathleen O'Brien retired as Vice President of Academic Affairs after 15 years of service. Kathy Lake was appointed Acting Vice President.


In May 2016, Alverno Presents (formerly Society of Fine Arts) closed its doors after 56 seasons.

Dr. Mary Meehan
Dr. Mary J. Meehan

Dr. Mary J. Meehan, Alverno's seventh President and the first lay person to hold that title, retired in June 2016.


Also in June 2016, Alverno announced the launching of two new degree programs in Fall, one in Health Education and another in Kinesiology.

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