St. Catherine University mourns the passing of Sister Catherine McNamee

Sr. Catherine McNamee photo

Eighth president of the College of St. Catherine and Trustee Emerita, she raised the local and national visibility of the institution.
Sister Catherine McNamee, CSJ, passed away on Sunday, August 30. She was the eighth president to serve the College of St. Catherine (now St. Catherine University), serving from 1979 to 1984. 

“Sr. Catherine was a leader in the truest sense of the word,” said ReBecca Koenig Roloff ‘76, president of St. Catherine University. “Her curiosity and drive to learn and share what she knew ultimately helped elevate both the local and national visibility of St. Catherine. She gave us the gift of servant leadership in action.”

As president of St. Catherine, Sr. Catherine supported initiatives to meet the evolving needs of women, thus honoring and upholding the mission of St. Kate’s and its founders. Through her insightful leadership, new directions advancing the mission were launched, including the weekend and evening college programs, opportunities for non-traditional adult students, implementing the Un Primer Paso program, recruiting Hispanic students and fostering a more diverse student body, advancing graduate programs for both women and men, and laying the groundwork for a merger with St. Mary’s Junior College, which would later bring associate degree programs to St. Kate’s.

Following her tenure as president, Sr. Catherine continued to contribute to the advancement of St. Catherine University, serving as professor of Multicultural Perspectives from 2006-2008, as an active, contributing, and highly respected member of the Board of Trustees from 2013 to 2019, and as Trustee Emerita beginning in 2019. 

Through her personal example, Sr. Catherine embodied the University values of social justice, inclusion, and diversity, with her dedication to international service as well as her strong commitment to broadening and deepening diverse experiences and multicultural connections with others. That is why, in 2012, the Catherine T. McNamee International Student Scholarship was established in her honor. International students who are selected for this scholarship exemplify her spirit of bold leadership and unwavering commitment to social justice within the global community.

Sr. Catherine dedicated her life to the mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet through the ministry of higher Catholic education, holding leadership roles and board positions for national and international institutions, including the National Catholic Educational Association, the International Federation of Catholic Universities, the International Organization of Catholic Education, the Inter-American Confederation of Catholic Education, the U.S. Catholic China Bureau, and several other academic institutions.