Sister Seraphim educated women to lead and influence long before it became the College of St. Catherine’s articulated mission. The annual Sister Seraphim Gibbons Undergraduate Symposium celebrates her impact on St. Kate’s in the areas of math and science, and it honors her deep propensity to explore curiosity and foster discovery.
Sr. Seraphim was a math expert and early pioneer in the development of computer technology. She graduated from the College of St. Catherine in 1933 with a Bachelor of Arts in math and speech. She went on to earn her PhD from the University of Minnesota in 1951 and soon joined the St. Kate’s math department, where she served as a professor for 52 years — often living in residence halls among students.
Sr. Seraphim put St. Kate’s on the map for computer science courses long before most other schools gave it a thought. She brought rudimentary desktop computers to her classes, teaching students programming with the help of a campus mainframe. Her foresight enabled her to teach the first computer science course on campus during J-term in 1968.
She encouraged and mentored students enabling them to secure internships and summer research positions, often as the only women in these programs. As a result, St. Kate’s graduates were well-qualified for jobs as programmers at some of the nation’s earliest computer technology companies.