Christine Pharr, Ph.D., inaugurated twelfth president of Mount Mary University

"I pray that my leadership of Mount Mary University may make us a stronger, wiser and more loving community."

Christine Pharr, Ph.D.
President of Mount Mary University

In a ceremony that drew strongly upon themes of community, Mount Mary University officially installed its 12th president, Christine Pharr, Ph.D., on Friday afternoon.

In her inaugural address, "A Community of our Making," Pharr explained the empowerment that comes from networks of support - "it takes a community to lead a meaningful life," she said. "No one is successful on their own."

Mount Mary University was founded in 1913 by the School Sisters of Notre Dame. It is the first four-year, degree-granting Catholic institution for women in Wisconsin. Today it serves a minority-majority population and offers more than 30 undergraduate majors for women and nine graduate programs for women and men in four schools: Arts & Design, Humanities, Social Sciences & Education, Natural & Health Sciences and Business.

The need for community is particularly important, she said, because sets a strong case for the need for single-sex institutions like Mount Mary, in building a strong foundation for women to lead.

The United States is ranked 103 in the world in women leaders at a national level, she said.

"This is a place where we believe one person can make a difference," she said. "We are a beacon of hope, a tower of light for our future."

The ceremony included a blessing circle comprised of various representatives from Pharr's life and community - her family, former colleagues parish, Mount Mary faculty and staff.

Former Mount Mary presidents Eileen Schwalbach, Pat O'Donoghue and S. Ellen Lorenz, SSND, participated in both the inauguration Mass and installation ceremony. For details visit

Academic institutions from near and far sent delegates to participate in the event, including all-women's institutions such as Alverno College, Smith College, Wellesley College, St. Catherine University and the College of Saint Mary, in Omaha, Neb., Pharr's prior institution, where she served as academic vice president followed by two years as vice president for alumni and donor relations.

Today's event culminated a weeklong series of events commemorating Pharr's installation. The International Club dedicated their annual "Culture Couture" fashion and cultural show to Dr. Pharr on Monday. Other events have centered upon the theme of service, including a Red Cross blood drive, on-campus cleanup days and an off-campus service project at the Urban Ecology Center.

Pharr has been president of the institution since July 1, 2017. She possesses a passion for women's leadership, particularly in the sciences. After graduating with her bachelor's degree in biology and chemistry from Mount Marty College in Yankton, SD, Pharr went on to earn a master's degree in chemistry from the University of South Dakota and a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from the University of Idaho.