Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Timeline of Alverno College History



In 1970, Sister Bernarda Handrup became Alverno's third Vice President of Academic Affairs/Academic Dean. It was during her tenure that Alverno's Ability-based curriculum was created. She was Academic Dean from 1970 to 1974.


This is a blackand white photo of Sister Bernarda Handrup, Alverno's third Vice President of Academic Affairs/Academic Dean

Sister Bernarda Handrup (1927 - 1987)



The Alverno College Research Center on Women (now known as the Research Center for Women and Girls) was established in April 1970 through the work of Sr. Austin Doherty, then Chair of the Psychology Department; Barbara Mulligan, Director of the Continuing Education Division; and Victoria Hinshaw, Political Science Instructor.

For additional information, visit the RCW Exhibit.


This is a classic black and white photo of Sister Marian Schreiner in the old RCW

Sister Marian Schreiner in the Research Center on Women (RCW)



Babysitting Service, (renamed Childcare and now known as the Alverno Early Learning Center,) also began operating in 1970 after a rise in the number of non-traditional aged students.


This is a back and white photo of Sister Solano Granger in the Babysitting Service room

Peeking through the Babysitting Service door in the 1970's, we see Sister Solano Granger, its first director, with a child on her lap.


The Career Services/Placement Office, now the Career Studio, also opened its doors in 1970.




Alverno's internship program, known in its early years as Off-Campus Experiential Learning (OCEL), began in Fall 1971.  Click here to learn more about the Internship Program.


This is a blackand white photo of Karen Gebarski at her intership site, Fall 1972

Karen Gebarski (1973) at her journalism internship for Quality Progress Magazine. Her internship began in the fall of 1972, the second semester of Alverno’s new OCEL program. She was among the first 24 Alverno students to participate in the program.




Alverno's Ability-based curriculum (formerly known as Competence-Based Learning or CBL) was introduced in 1973. Also, the Assessment Center opened in conjunction with the new curriculum and the first Visitation Day was held for educators to learn about Alverno's teaching methods.

Visit the exhibit, Unfolding Understandings: A History of the Alverno Learning Process to learn more.


This September-October 1973 "Alverno Today" article is about the launch of ability based learning at Alverno
The article above is from the September-October 1973 issue of Alverno Today.



Robert Pitman became Alverno's fourth Vice President of Academic Affairs/Academic Dean and the first lay person to hold that title in 1974. He continued as Academic Dean until his death in 1978.


This is a black and white photo of Dean Robert Pitman in cap and gown

Robert Pitman



Planning for the Alverno College Archives began in the Summer of 1974. At that time, College President, SisterJoel Read appointed Sister Joanne Barras, a former business education instructor, as the first college archivist. After initial preparations and training for Sister Joanne, the Archives was officially established in January 1975. Sister Joanne remained as archivist until her retirement in 1987


This is a black and white photo of Sister Joanne Barras, first Alverno College archivist

Sister Joanne Barras (1916 - 1990)


The Business/Management Department was established in 1976. It is now a division in the School of Professional Studies. One of the early faculty members in the School of Business was Sister Kathleen O’Brien. This is a 1981 photo of her with a student.


This is a black and white photo of Sister Kathleen O'Brien with a student in 1981



The Center for Instructional Communication (CIC), now known as the Media Hub, also opened in 1976. Click here to learn more about the Media Hub.


This is a black and white photo of Joyce Lange in the old CIC

Joyce Lange (behind the camera) and students in the early days of the Media Hub






Weekend College (later known as Alverno on the Weekend), another pioneering effort by Alverno College which existed for close to 40 years, opened its doors in August 1977. It was announced in the February 25, 1977 press release below. The response to Weekend College was phenomenal with close to 350 inquiries within 48 hours of its announcement.


This Alverno press release from February 1977 announced Weekend College


Sister Joel Read at the inaugural opening of Weekend College
Sister Joel Read at the inaugural opening of Weekend College



In May 1977,  the first class that went through Alverno's Ability Based Learning curriculum, graduated.


Also in 1977, the Professional Communication (PCM) Department, now known simply as the Communication(COMM) Department was established.





Shortly after the death of Robert Pitman, in August 1978, Sister Austin Doherty (1927-2015) became Alverno's fifth Vice President of Academic Affairs/Academic Dean. This article appeared on page four of the Winter 1978-79 issue of Alverno Today.


This is an article from "Alverno Today" about Sister Austin Doherty when she became Academic Dean in 1978



In September 1978, the Alverno Board of Trustees unanimously approved the renaming of the Alverno Auditorium as a memorial to Robert Pitman. The Robert G. Pitman Theatre was officially renamed at a small ceremony on December 16, 1978 following the reopening of Theatre Alverno with a retrospective revue produced by actor and actress friends who worked with Robert Pitman throughout his years in Milwaukee.


Robert G. Pitman Theatre                    

Robert G. Pitman Theatre



Also in 1978, Instructional Services began operation with Marlene Neises as director; offered were one reading class and one writing class each taught by Sue Witkowski.