Feature Story

Why we stand strong

By Mount Mary University

Posted on April 19, 2023

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Our future rests on a well-built foundation

They didn’t know at the time…

That’s the common refrain Vice President for Alumnae and Donor Relations Pam Owens hears time and again as she meets with alumnae.

They didn’t know at the time the lasting impression Mount Mary had made on

“They always talk about the values they may not have appreciated as a student,” she said, adding that there’s also another common theme: “I continue to be amazed, even nine years into my time at Mount Mary, that as we meet more alums, they are doing absolutely amazing things,” she said. “I find their work is always centered on our mission, and I’m proud and grateful for the impact they are having.”

Each year, Mount Mary alumnae honor exemplary alumnae and friends with the Madonna, Tower and President’s awards. The three categories of the Madonna award recognize alums who have achieved professional excellence, engaged in volunteerism and, in the spirit of giving back, made significant contributions to Mount Mary.

The 2022 awards celebration took place Saturday, April 22, 2023, recognizing four outstanding alums for their commitment to their work, and their support of Mount Mary and their communities.

Additionally, the 53-year tradition of the Starving Artists’ Show was recognized for its remarkable achievements and contributions.


“Our alumnae helped develop awards, because they want to highlight the impact of a Mount Mary education on the women who follow them,”said Owens.

The Tower and President’s awards are new, to acknowledge the accomplishments of younger alumnae in earlier stages of their careers, and significant friends of the institution that have made an extraordinary impact, respectively.

Just as alumnae have taken mission along with them, members of the faculty have dedicated their careers to making it so, embedding the mission into the curriculum, from professional development to scholarship and classroom delivery.

This year, a number of notable faculty members are retiring, individuals who “recognize the connection between their scholarship and what they are delivering to students in the classroom,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs Karen Friedlen.

Occupational therapy professor Jane Olson, for example, has served various leadership roles within the department for 40 years, all the while balancing the changing profession, accreditation standards along with the needs of the workforce.

“Jane’s foresight and advocacy for the program have been notable,” Friedlen said. “She is constantly looking inside and outside and working to integrate the two in a way that is uniquely framed within our mission and student demographics.”

As these faculty members retire, Friedlen said the next generation of faculty are carefully vetted to make sure their values align with the community. In this academic year, Mount Mary welcomed 11 new faculty members, half of whom identify as BIPOC, many with a strong focus on technology, all with a firm
sense of social justice.

As the years pass, students become alumnae and professionals, and faculty
members build up unique legacies within their departments.

Time goes on and while things change, Mount Mary values endure. Just ask Pam Owens, who sees this phenomenon among alumnae time and again:

“No matter what they do, they do it with heart and soul, for higher reasons than a paycheck,” she said.