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Zollmann to Speak at Clarke University Commencement

Clarke University is pleased to announce that Mary Ann Zollmann, BVM, Ph.D., president of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM), will address the graduates at the university’s 169th Commencement on Saturday, May 12, on the Clarke campus. Zollmann will also receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree at the ceremony.

Zollmann has been a dedicated and outspoken national advocate for women in the Catholic Church. From 2001-2004, she served in various executive leadership roles for the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). During this time, she served as president, past president and vice president for the group that is made up of approximately 1,000 members who are the elected leaders of their religious congregations. LCWR represents 76,000 Catholic Sisters in the United States.

During her term as president of the BVM Congregation, which will end this year, also placed her at the forefront of the Apostolic Visitation for Institutes of Women Religious in the United States. This visitation by Papal decree included a multi-year review and dialogue of the lives of women religious in America.

Her work extends internationally, with Zollmann having worked to raise awareness of peace and justice issues in El Salvador, Ecuador, Israel and Palestine, Swaziland and Ghana.

“Mary Ann is a remarkable example of a woman who brings to life the very values and purpose that define a Clarke education,” said Clarke President Joanne M. Burrows, SC, Ph.D. “She has been a tireless advocate for women in the church, and more broadly, in favor of peace and justice for all people. We look forward to the great wisdom she will share with our graduates.”

Zollmann, currently on Board of Trustees at both Clarke University and Loyola University, was a longtime Clarke faculty member who taught religious studies at the university from 1981-2000. She has also been coordinator of initial members for the BVM Congregation, a campus minister, and teacher in Santa Barbara, Calif.; St. Louis, Mo.; and San Francisco, Calif. She holds a Ph.D. in spirituality from Duquesne University, master’s degrees in French, religious studies and spirituality, and a bachelor’s degree from Mundelein College.

This year’s Commencement exercises begin with a baccalaureate liturgy at 10 a.m. in Clarke’s Robert and Ruth Kehl Center, at which graduates will receive their academic hoods. At 2 p.m., the official Commencement ceremony begins, at which graduates will receive their diplomas and special awards will be bestowed.

During the Commencement, degrees will be conferred upon both undergraduate and graduate students. To accommodate additional guests, the liturgy and ceremony will be simulcast on televisions in Clarke’s Student Activity Center, which is connected to the Kehl Center. This year, the university will also stream the ceremony via Clarke’s website at

For more information, contact the Clarke University Marketing and Communication Office at (563)588-6318.

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