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College’s former pres dies

Liz Harter | Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Thirty-eight years after her inauguration as the President of Saint Mary’s College, Sr. M. Alma Peter died at Saint Mary’s Convent Friday.

Alma Peter was 98 years old and worked for Saint Mary’s for 34 years in both a teaching and administrative capacity. She served as the College’s president from 1970-72.

Current president and 1972 alumna Carol Ann Mooney expressed sadness at the loss of the former educator.

“I have known Sister Alma since my days as a student at Saint Mary’s College,” she said. “I am deeply saddened by her passing.”

After taking her Final Profession in 1933, Alma Peter received a bachelor’s degree from Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles and a master’s degree in chemistry from Marquette University. She also held an honorary doctor of humanities degree from Saint Mary’s College and an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of Notre Dame.

She joined Saint Mary’s faculty in 1950 and became the academic dean in 1955. She was instrumental in implementing the Study Abroad program in Rome, of which she later served as director, and she also served as the counselor of the College’s Ireland program.

Alma Peter became acting president of Saint Mary’s following the death of President Monsignor John McGrath. She served that role during the time when the College and the University of Notre Dame were determining whether or not to unify. In November 1971, Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s jointly announced termination of unification plans. Notre Dame said it would admit women beginning in September 1972. Saint Mary’s remained an all-women’s college.

Mooney said Alma Peter was more than just a president and administrator, but someone important to the College’s heritage.

“Saint Mary’s has lost not only a former president, but a woman who helped to shape our future during a pivotal time in our history,” she said. “She and I enjoyed many visits over the past few years. I will miss her wisdom and friendship.”

The visitation and funeral for Sister Alma will take place at the Church of Our Lady of Loretto at Saint Mary’s today. The reception of the body will be at 9:30 a.m., with the funeral Mass and Eulogy beginning at 1:30 p.m.