A Message from the President: A Celebration of Equality


05/04/2018

A Message from the President

Two weeks into my term as president of St. Ambrose, I told a gathering of Quad Cities businesswomen that we will know gender equality has truly been achieved when we no longer see the words "first woman" in front of president.

Or doctor. Or dentist. Or scientist. Or engineer. Or mechanic, for that matter. Still, I believe the 50th anniversary of the 1968 decision to make St. Ambrose College a fully co-educational institution is an occasion worthy of celebration and reflection.

In the context of today, the choice to become a co-educational institution seems obvious and, perhaps, overdue. Hindsight, however, rarely considers the context of the era under review.

I believe St. Ambrose has always been attentive to the signs of its times; we must remember that for more than a century, Catholic colleges and universities across the U.S. predominantly were single-gender institutions. It was not until the late 1960s that a vast majority of Catholic institutions saw the benefit of co-educational classrooms and campuses.

sister joan

I also would suggest the idea of single-gender colleges had its right time and purpose, particularly for women, because women coming out of women-only institutions tended to assume leadership positions in an out-sized manner. Having attended a college that began to admit male students only in the last year of my undergraduate studies, I might be an example of that.

Yet I also take tremendous pride in the fact St. Ambrose students learn today in a gender-diverse environment that empowers women and men of all faiths, ethnicities and backgrounds to aspire to anything they want to achieve, while also allowing them to learn from diverse perspectives.

I very much hope our students see me as St. Ambrose's 13th president, rather than the first woman to hold that office. I hope they learn equally well from our accomplished male faculty members as they do from our accomplished female professors. And I hope our students take pride and find encouragement in the success of the alumnae we highlight in this celebratory edition of Scene.

The fact is that any student with a St. Ambrose degree can aspire, like Rachel Bahl '05, to rise in the engineering ranks of an industry giant such as Ford Motor Company. Likewise, of course, any student -woman or man- can dream of following the intrepid journalistic path of Franc Contreras '87.

Dating back to Bishop John McMullen's earliest vision of a Catholic school for men and boys, our long Ambrosian history is worthy of celebration. The fact that the past 50 gender-diverse years comprise a rich part of that history is cause for celebration, too.

–Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, PhD


I very much hope our students see me as St. Ambrose's 13th president, rather than the first woman to hold that office. I hope they learn equally well from our accomplished male faculty members as they do from our accomplished female professors. And I hope our students take pride and find encouragement in the success of the alumnae we highlight in this celebratory edition of Scene.

Sister Joan


I also would suggest the idea of single-gender colleges had its right time and purpose, particularly for women, because women coming out of women-only institutions tended to assume leadership positions in an out-sized manner. Having attended a college that began to admit male students only in the last year of my undergraduate studies, I might be an example of that.

Yet I also take tremendous pride in the fact St. Ambrose students learn today in a gender-diverse environment that empowers women and men of all faiths, ethnicities and backgrounds to aspire to anything they want to achieve, while also allowing them to learn from diverse perspectives.

I very much hope our students see me as St. Ambrose's 13th president, rather than the first woman to hold that office. I hope they learn equally well from our accomplished male faculty members as they do from our accomplished female professors. And I hope our students take pride and find encouragement in the success of the alumnae we highlight in this celebratory edition of Scene.

The fact is that any student with a St. Ambrose degree can aspire, like Rachel Bahl '05, to rise in the engineering ranks of an industry giant such as Ford Motor Company. Likewise, of course, any student -woman or man- can dream of following the intrepid journalistic path of Franc Contreras '87.

Dating back to Bishop John McMullen's earliest vision of a Catholic school for men and boys, our long Ambrosian history is worthy of celebration. The fact that the past 50 gender-diverse years comprise a rich part of that history is cause for celebration, too.

–Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, PhD

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