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with tears in their eyes who kept the faith, who had-
n't given up on us, and for all of those who had
bore the pain of getting us through the darkest
One day later, the joy was magnified when the
women's basketball team erupted with 1,500 fans
-- the president among them, sitting with the team
-- in the Reilly Center as they watched ESPN reveal
their bid to their first NCAA Tournament.
"To see how little support they had when I first
came on as president, to that WNIT game a few
years later with 4,000 people in the RC, and then
that season and their success in the tournament was
very meaningful for me," she said. "That whole ex-
perience with the men and women was like being
dropped into the middle of a dream -- except it's
not something you ever dared to dream."
x x x
marked with disappointment and heartache.
The failure of the Hilbert College alliance was es-
pecially painful, she admits. Students John Dlugosz,
Matthew Dungan, and Tyler Davis passed away.
Racial tensions flared in 2015, and enrollment chal-
lenges mounted in the shrinking Northeast, espe-
cially since the recession in 2008.
Yet she never shied away from the problems and
was always present to help the campus heal in times
of tragedy.
"Obviously, there are days when the discourage-
ment is profound," she said. "But you have to de-
cide if you're going to cash in your chips or stay the
course and go forward 100 percent."
A passionate advocate of diversity and social jus-
tice for more than 50 years, she established #race-
matters to increase campus programming about the
role of race in society and elevated the director of the
Damietta Center for Multicultural Student Affairs to a
full-time position.
She pushed for aggressive initiatives to swim in new
enrollment streams online and abroad, and encour-
aged exploration of new academic programs that
would meet market demands.
And she was smart enough to know she didn't have
all the answers.
This past year, she empowered more than 100 peo-
ple -- from students to vice presidents, and everyone
in between -- to develop the university's new strategic
plan, a recognition that the best way to build morale
and consensus was to have so many people invested
in the future of the university.
"The thing I like most about the strategic plan is that
it puts students at the center, something I've been
preaching forever," she said. "I credit (Vice President
for Student Affairs) Rick Trietley a lot for shifting the
mindset of the student life division -- from thinking
that students are a problem to be solved to looking
at their role as an opportunity to foster leadership.
It's one of the reasons why I put so much time in
getting out to see the students."
As busy as she was almost every waking hour, Sr.
Margaret's ability to build and foster relationships
might well be her enduring legacy.
"That kind of ever-presence she took very seri-
ously," McGee said. "On any given Saturday, she
could be at three SGA events, a wake, a concert and
then a basketball game."
The centerpiece of events to mark Sr. Margaret's 12-
year term as president was a May 5 "Celebration of
Discovery, Community and Individual Worth," which
culminated with a presentation by Sr. Margaret on
the Franciscan value of individual worth (above).