Sister Elizabeth Anne Sueltenfuss

We asked our members and supporters to share the story of a woman that they admire in celebration of Women’s History Month. The following entry is written by Anne Maiese, LWVNJ President, in honor of one of her college professors.

The obituaries of Sister Elizabeth Anne Sueltenfuss, who died at the age of 88 this past year, focused on her leadership as the first female president of Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio. She made many contributions to the “the Lake” during her presidency, 1978 to 1997.  She instituted a Weekend College program that offered bachelor, masters and doctoral programs at three South Texas sites and enabled thousands of working adults to attend college. She doubled overall enrollment, focusing on students who were the first in their families to attend college. And she transformed “the Lake” from a college to a university, instituting the first Doctor of Psychology degree program in counseling psychology in the country, in 1990.

A marvelous fund-raiser and connector of people, she oversaw the construction of several new buildings on campus, one of them a library named after her. She knew everyone in the area, and even in retirement served on many San Antonio area boards of directors.

But all this happened after I left the college. I knew her as a teacher, and one of the best I ever had.  She was also the head of the biology department and my advisor as I made my way through the courses required for majoring in that subject. It was still a college for girls then, and most of the other biology majors were planning to work as med techs or go to medical school. But I was I was planning to teach, so not only what she taught but how she did it made an impression. Extremely smart but down to earth, demanding but sunny and enthusiastic, she got results.

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