Sister Camille Kliebhan, OSF
1923 - 2018

The Stritch family will forever be grateful for your humble service, your gentle spirit, your wisdom and your profound and lasting impact on our University and our lives.
 

The Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi will share a live stream of the Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Camille on Monday, November 26, at 7 p.m. To view, visit http://www.lakeosfs.org/how-we-serve/sisters-today/live-streaming/

Stritch President Kathleen A. Rinehart, J.D., shared the following message with the Stritch community on November 17, 2018:

I write this message to all of you, filled both with a sense of profound loss and a sense of deep joy. At 4 a.m. this morning, Sr. Camille Kliebhan, OSF, passed. She now resides in heaven, joining other cherished Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi and members of her beloved family. Sr. Camille, who was 95 years old, served the University for more than 60 years as a transformative educator, academic administrator, President and Chancellor.

 

Sr. Camille’s daily work and interactions with others, up to and including the last day of her life, reflected the very heart and soul of the Franciscan Values that guide all of us:  Showing Compassion, Creating a Caring Community, Reverencing Creation and Making Peace.

 

Though we deeply grieve the loss of Sr. Camille, we also must acknowledge the absolute joy we feel, knowing that she was able to be a part of our lives for so many years, and take the lead in integrally shaping the University we dearly love. We are better as individuals and as a community because of her presence — a presence that conveyed a deep sense of humility, graciousness, fundamental kindness and ongoing commitment to the service of others. This humble presence transformed the lives of thousands and set a standard for excellence that we all bear the responsibility to carry forward.

 

Services for Sr. Camille will be held on Monday, November 26, at the Motherhouse for the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, 3221 South Lake Drive, St. Francis. At 2:30 p.m., the body of Sr. Camille will be welcomed back to the Motherhouse. Visitation will occur until 6:30 p.m. From 6:30 to 7 p.m., remembrances will be shared. The funeral will occur at 7 p.m. Burial will occur on Tuesday, November 27.

 

The University is in the process of organizing a memorial event to honor Sr. Camille and a number of other Sisters who dedicated their lives in service to Stritch. More information on that memorial is forthcoming.

 

As you think of Sr. Camille and offer your thoughts and prayers today, please click on the video below to join Sr. Camille in the Prayer of St. Francis. This video was kindly provided by Mr. Joe Sweeney, a good friend of Sr. Camille, and serves as a wonderful reminder of her graciousness, kindness and sense of faith.


- President Kathleen A. Rinehart, J.D.

 

 

Prayer of Thanksgiving for the life of Sr. Camille Kliebhan, OSF,
and her service to Cardinal Stritch University

November 17, 2018, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary

 

“May you foster such honor to the Lord among the people entrusted to you that every evening an announcement may be made by a messenger or some other sign that praise and thanksgiving may be given by all people to the all-powerful Lord God.”
- from a letter written by Francis to the rulers of the peoples (found in Franciscan Morning and Evening Praise, Common in Thanksgiving)
 
All-powerful and loving God,

 

We praise you and offer you thanksgiving for the life and ministry of Sr. Camille Kliebhan, OSF. Hers was a life lived in service to you and the people of Southeastern Wisconsin. You endowed her with gifts of teaching and leadership, vision and faith.

 

She used these gifts in service to the people of God, teaching those who would go on to teach, growing Cardinal Stritch University in order to bring access to higher education to more people, and creating the foundation of a culture infused with our Franciscan Values.

 

We praise you for your providence, for calling her to religious life, to leadership, to humble service to the church and the community.

 

With the humility and grace that she so modeled, we ask that as you wrap her in your loving arms and welcome her home, you provide us with the consolation of her newfound joy.

 

May her life, her vocation, and her service inspire us to serve as she did and love you in all that we do.

 

We pray this prayer of thanksgiving and ask for the prayers of St. Francis and St. Clare.

 

Amen.

 

- Written by Dr. Sean T. Lansing, Stritch Vice President for Mission Integration


  Sister Camille Kliebhan

During her 59 years of service to Stritch, Sister Camille Kliebhan, OSF, Ph.D., won the admiration of co-workers, community leaders and her fellow sisters with her gentle spirit, natural elegance and genuine warmth.

People likewise express deep admiration for her legacy at Stritch and within the community. Guided by her faith, Sister Camille helped to shape the University as its president for 17 years and throughout decades of service.

Before succeeding Sister Mary Aquin Miller, OSF, as Stritch president, Sister Camille was a faculty member, joining Stritch in 1955, after she earned her Ph.D. from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. She went on to assume duties as head of the departments of education and psychology, director of student teaching, dean of students, chair of the graduate division and vice president for academic and student affairs. She became the first Stritch president to be elected and appointed by a governing Board of Trustees, chosen from 25 lay and religious applicants.

Under her leadership, Stritch constructed the building that includes the library, Great Hall, field house, auditorium, student union, bookstore, and mailroom. Groundbreaking took place on May 28, 1984, exactly 25 years to the day after the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi broke ground for the Fox Point campus. The $6.5 million building opened in fall of 1985 and earned a Wisconsin Society of Architects award for its design.

Within the building is the Alfred S. Kliebhan Great Hall, named in recognition of her father, a man who lived his life in service to the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi. His involvement was natural given that two of his daughters, Sister Camille and Sister Joanne Marie Kliebhan, a former chair of the special education department and co-founder/director of the St. Francis Children’s Center, held pivotal roles within the institution. 

Besides adding a building, Sister Camille led Stritch down an important academic path when her administration began offering “credit for prior learning.” The move enabled adults to translate learning acquired through employment, extensive reading, and workshops into college credit, and it opened new opportunities for Stritch, such as Programs in Management for Adults (PMA), which later became the College of Business and Management. 

Introduced in April of 1982, the PMA programs brought a large spike in enrollment. A total of 581 adults signed up within the first 18 months, at a time when Stritch’s total enrollment was about 1,700. In the first two years of PMA (April 1982 to Sept. 1984), Stritch enrolled more than 1,560 students in the programs, in 20 locations.

“At commencement this year I marveled at how many of our graduates had gray hair!” Sister Camille said in a 1986 interview with the Business Journal. 

Allowing credit for prior learning also led to the formation of the nursing program, in 1980. In partnership with Sacred Heart School of Practical Nursing, Stritch began an LPN to ADN progression program. A bachelor’s program started in 1983. Many of the students who enrolled were already in the field and could earn credits based on their work history.

Sister Camille served on many boards, held leadership positions, raised Stritch’s profile, helped pull in fund-raising dollars, and forged lasting friendships that she maintains to this day. 

In the early 1980s, Sister Camille became president of the Wisconsin Foundation for Independent Colleges, making her the first woman to head the statewide organization. In 1987, she was among the first three women admitted to the Rotary Club of Milwaukee, the Midwest’s largest, and years later she was the first woman to be elected president of the group. In 1996, Sister Camille served as chair of the board for Sacred Heart School of Theology and was the only woman in the nation to hold such a position at a Roman Catholic seminary at that time.

In an effort to recognize some of the distinguished people she met in the community and those who served Stritch, Sister Camille awarded many honorary degrees during her time as president. Among the more memorable recipients were Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl, not yet a senator but a good friend of Sister Camille, and Barbara Bush, wife of then-Vice President George H. W. Bush.  Sister Camille remembers how thrilled Barbara Bush was to receive her degree. For years, Sister Camille kept in touch with Barbara Bush, who later served as the honorary chairperson for the Jubilee ’87 campaign, and recorded a special greeting for Sister Camille’s 90th birthday celebration in 2013.

Another priority of Sister Camille’s presidency was creating more awareness of the core values of St. Francis of Assisi.

In 2012, the Santa Chiara Fund, a need-based annual scholarship fund, was created in honor of Sister Camille and the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi. In keeping with Samuel Cardinal Stritch’s desire to ensure access to higher education for students from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds, the Santa Chiara Fund has been established to helps students “approve the better things” as they discover their purpose in life. Santa Chiara is Saint Clare in Italian. 

As the University’s chancellor from 1991-2015, Sister Camille remained a vibrant, visible presence on campus. She lived in her family’s home close to campus until 2014. In 2015, Sister Camille was named Chancellor Emerita. 

“When Sister Camille assumed Stritch’s presidency in 1974, the college was a nice little parochial school, with an enrollment of less than 1,000,” according to a 1993 Milwaukee Business Journal story. “By 1991, when she relinquished the helm, the school had more than 4,000 full-time students and had become a vibrant urban learning center.”