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Former ND administrator dies at 81

Observer Staff Report | Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sr. Jean Lenz, former assistant vice president for student acffairs, died Saturday at a retirement home in Joliet, Ill., after a long illness. She was 81.

An alumna of Notre Dame, Lenz worked as an administrator, rector and adjunct professor for the University.

University President Emeritus Fr. Theodore Hesburgh described Lenz as a “friend, counselor and almost-confessor.”

“The time students spend with her exposes them to goodness, fun and deep beauty,” he said. “Her teaching brings them face to face with the Christ in whom she deeply believes.”

A Chicago native and a Franciscan sister of the Congregation of the Third Order of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate, Lenz earned her master’s degree from Notre Dame in 1967. She was one of the first women rectors to serve on campus following the University’s transition to coeducation in 1972.

Lenz served as rector of Farley Hall from 1973 to 1983, when she was appointed rector and chaplain of the London Program. In 1984, she was appointed vice president for student affairs and served intermittently as an adjunct professor of theology.

In 1998, she received an honorary degree from the University of Portland for her service as a mentor to students. She published an anecdotal account of her life of service, “Loyal Daughters and Sons,” in 2002. In 2007, her name was added to the Wall of Honor in Notre Dame’s Main Building.

Visitation will be held Wednesday from 2 to 7 p.m. at Our Lady of the Angels Retirement Home in Joliet, Ill., followed by a funeral Mass at 7 p.m. Burial will be Thursday at 9 a.m. in Resurrection Cemetary in Romeoville, Ill.

University President Fr. John Jenkins will preside over a Mass of Remembrance for Lenz, which will be held Feb. 6 at 5:15 p.m. at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.