Former SMWC President Has Died

June 10th, 2013 | SMWC

Jeanne Knoerle, SP '49, 12th President of SMWC

UPDATE: Services for Sister Jeanne Knoerle

Wake - Monday, June 17, 2013 from 2-4:30 p.m.
Wake Service -  4:30 p.m.
Funeral Mass - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 11 a.m.


Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College is mourning the loss of its 12th president, Jeanne Knoerle, SP, ’49, who died in her home on June 10, 2013 at the age of 85. 

Knoerle has been a Sister of Providence for 62 years as well as an encouraging mentor, author, educator and theologian. She was president of the College from 1968-1983, continuing the legacy of educating women for positions of leadership began by the College and Congregation's foundress, Saint Mother Theodore Guerin. She held several positions at SMWC, including serving as professor, president, chancellor from 1984 to 1988 and co-chancellor from 1988 to the present. 

“Sister Jeanne’s passing is a profound loss, not only for the entire college community but also in the Wabash Valley community where she was highly respected,” said Dottie King, Ph.D., president of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. “Her work was always groundbreaking.  I, as others, found her to be energetic, visionary and positive - always positive. To me she was a treasured friend, a trusted confidant and a mentor. I will miss her greatly.” 

Knoerle pioneered distance education at The Woods. She inspired the faculty, working diligently to show them that this program would benefit the College and society. In 1973, she launched the Women’s External Degree program as a way to educate women who could not attend college in a traditional way. Maintaining its signature forward momentum, WED became the Woods External Degree program when it admitted its first male student in 2005. Knoerle recognized the value of the program to men and vocally supported their inclusion. In 2011, WED merged with the College’s accelerated online program to form Woods Online, solidifying SMWC’s tradition of innovation. She was also committed to the value of women's education in the campus program.  

Knoerle earned a bachelor's degree in drama from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in 1949. She also received two master's degrees in journalism and business and a doctorate in composition and literary Chinese, all from Indiana University. She taught at schools in Illinois, Indiana and Washington, D.C. Her interest in Asian literature led her to Providence College in Taichung, Taiwan where she served as a Fulbright Scholar and Visiting Professor. Knoerle received honorary doctorate degrees from six Indiana colleges and universities, including Indiana State University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. She was also the receipent of the prestigious Ford Foundation Fellowship.

She served as a consultant to the religious division of the Lilly Endowment, and was a founding member of Our Green Valley Alliance for Sustainability in Terre Haute. She was honored as one of eight Wabash Valley Women of Influence during the inaugural annual event in 2012. 


Sr. Jeanne Knoerle with President Dottie King

View more photos of Sr. Jeanne

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