College honors General Council for ‘Aspiring Higher’
Provided by Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College
“For your enduring support of SMWC over the past 180 years and most especially, our work together these last few years, I present you with the Aspire Higher Award,” said Dr. Dottie L. King, Ph.D., president of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC), to Sister Dawn Tomaszewski, General Superior of the Sisters of Providence, and the General Council during a presentation recently.
The Aspire Higher Award, established in 2013, is one of the highest honors presented by the president of the College to acknowledge individuals who demonstrate a passion for using the present to create a better future.
The Sisters of Providence General Council are all SMWC alumni and include Sister Dawn (1974 graduate), Sister Lisa Stallings (1974 graduate, who is currently ministering as the vicar and general treasurer), and general councilors Sister Jeanne Hagelskamp (1973 graduate), Sister Jenny Howard (1974 graduate) and Sister Mary Beth Klingel (1969 graduate).
“We have been so blessed by the Sisters for so many years. And, this General Council has done so much to aid the College, especially in these last few years,” King said. “They have stood beside us during our transition to co-education, they support our athletic teams and have endured our growing pains as we have accommodated our increasing student body. And, for the magnificent way they’ve handled COVID-19, especially as we and the order have a shared campus – and, they have a very vulnerable population.”
“As members of the leadership team of the Sisters of Providence who serve as the religious sponsors of the College, we have a unique perspective on the college’s efforts to Aspire Higher,” Sister Dawn said. “We are certainly proud of their accomplishments – their growth in enrollment, land and buildings as well as their dedication to the strong academic and religious values of those who have gone before them. To have contributed in any way to a brighter future for them has been our privilege.”
“It’s been on my heart to do this,” King added. “I have been blessed to work with all of you, and you have blessed me, our leadership team and our College. For your prayers, standing beside us through difficult times, through times of transition and through times of growth – you have been there to cheer us on and stand beside us.”
The Sisters of Providence helped the College expand its footprint from 62 acres to 311 acres enabling the college to purchase additional acreage in 2018.
King gave credit to the General Council for their patience, prayers and partnership as the institution built and opened the Jeanne Knoerle Sports and Recreation Center in 2014 and the new residence and dining hall in 2021, addressed master plan needs such as renaming roadways, expanding parking lots, readdressing buildings, installing wayfinding signage and expanding Wi-Fi access throughout the collective campus.
A billboard recognizing the council for Aspiring Higher as strong women leaders and SMWC alumni went up in West Terre Haute in mid-September.
“We are touched by this award and perhaps a little overwhelmed by seeing ourselves on a billboard,” Sister Dawn said. “However, it is a beautiful gesture, and we are truly grateful that we share in the legacy of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin and are doing our best to work together to ensure that The Woods will be a sacred place for all who will live, study, work and visit here. May our efforts be fruitful for many years to come.”
In addition to working with King on the expansion of land and the physical campus, the General Council has collaborated on such shared ventures as Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Historic District and trails development, archives, academic programming particularly in the areas of sustainability and social justice and in rolling out the red carpet to alumni.
Previous Aspire Higher award winners include Dr. Dipa Sarkar, Becky Buse, Jerome Hellman, Alice Quinlan, Al Heramb, Judy Anderson, Darla Hopper and Sister Jeanne Knoerle (posthumously).