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Saint Mary’s appoints four new vice presidents

President Katie Conboy announced Aug. 17 that the College successfully recruited “four experienced Vice Presidents to the College leadership in the last nine months.”

Holly Johnson was hired as vice president of advancement, Lori Johnson ’91 was hired as vice president for student enrollment and engagement, Julianne Wallace, D.Min. was hired as vice president for mission and Barbara May is the newly appointed provost and senior vice president. 

The Observer spoke to the four women about their experience before coming to Saint Mary’s and what it means to join the College community.

Holly Johnson — Vice president of advancement

By Cathy Doherty

Holly Johnson was hired last October to become the new Vice President of Advancement at the College. 

A graduate of Indiana University, Johnson majored in nonprofit management and has been in the business ever since.

“I’ve been doing fundraising since the day I got out of college,” Johnson said. “It’s my passion.”

As Vice President of Advancement, Johnson is responsible for focusing on external factors, such as working with donors, alumnae and students, as well as social media and the College’s website.

By working closely with these groups, Johnson is able to fundraise and increase revenue for the college.

Johnson attributed joining the Saint Mary’s community to President Katie Conboy and the Revere and Revise strategic plan.

“I felt so excited to come and do this work with a President who had such a beautiful strategic plan in place, and a roadmap for the next eight years,” Johnson stated. “That’s really hard to find.” 

The Revere and Revise plan maps out what the College hopes to accomplish by 2030 and is featured on the College’s website.

When asked what she loves most about her job, Johnson said one of the events she loves most is reunion week.

“All the alumnae come back to campus, and you see how much they love the institution.” Johnson stated. “It just reminds you why we do what we do.”

Johnson said the College is in a silent phase of a comprehensive campaign. 

She is focusing on partnering with constituents to work towards fulfilling the Revere and Revise strategic plan. She said she is looking forward to working with her team to make Saint Mary’s stronger and hopefully celebrate the success of Revere and Revise in eight years.

Lori E. Johnson — Vice president for student enrollment and engagement

By Chancelor Gordon

Newly appointed Vice President of Student Enrollment and Engagement, Lori E. Johnson, recently began her role at Saint Mary’s in which she executes numerous responsibilities regarding the Saint Mary’s experience for prospective students to graduating seniors. 

Johnson describes her position as “[requiring] a holistic approach to student recruitment, engagement, and support so we can better deliver on our mission to educate students of all backgrounds for lives of purpose and service.” 

Gaining experience throughout her career in higher education, Johnson said she hopes she can equip students for success at the College and while mobilizing resources to advance Saint Mary’s mission.

“This new role allows me to bring all of that experience to lead one large division of talented and dedicated staff to advance our mission and partner with our students on their journey to help them fulfill their goals and aspirations,” Johnson said. 

Being an alumna and previously working in academic affairs at Saint Mary’s College, this position holds a special place in Johnson’s heart. 

“Today I feel fortunate to have an opportunity to give back in a meaningful way and to be part of preparing the next generation of women leaders,” Johnson stated. 

Johnson eagerly began her role excited to learn more about the students and faculty along with the opportunity to do her part in furthering the growth of Saint Mary’s. 

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to be back home at Saint Mary’s,” she said. “I hope you embrace all of the opportunities in the curriculum, outside of the classroom, across the tri-campus community and in South Bend.”

Reminding students to reach out to her, Johnson spoke to the challenges that come with growth.

“Do not forget that growth also comes from struggle, so try to embrace that,” she said. “I want to hear from you often about your experience, including when you are celebrating a success, pondering a big decision or question or in need of a listening ear.”

Julianne Wallace — Vice President for Mission

By Cora Haddad

Vice president for mission Julianne Wallace D.Min. said she starts her day in awe of The Avenue, which leads her to what she most recently calls her workplace.

“As I drive down the avenue every morning, I still cannot believe I have the opportunity to work at Saint Mary’s,” Wallace stated. 

Hired in August of this year, Wallace talks about her first few weeks on campus.

“One of my favorite moments thus far has been at our first-ever convocation event before classes started,” Wallace recalled. “Many from our student body gathered for a fun-filled energetic event to start our semester off on a high note. I was amazed at the support and camaraderie between our students.” 

Wallace spoke about her hopes for her position.

“To be a VP for mission means being a relationship builder, a communicator, a strategic administrator and a charismatic leader” Wallace said. 

Wallace explained that she is working with her first all-female team and comments on how excited she is to work with these senior leaders.

“My job as the mission officer is to encourage communication around our mission, create opportunities for mission education and integration across campus and support the various mission initiatives within the administration” she added.

After her series of interviews, including meeting with Saint Mary’s College President Katie Conboy, and President of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, Sister M. Veronique (Wiedower), Wallace spent a day on campus. 

She recalled how she fell in love with Saint Mary’s after her visit to campus.

“I also spent a day on campus meeting with various campus constituencies, such as direct reports, close collaborators and fellow administrations,” Wallace described. “It was a long day — but totally energizing! After I finished the final round of interview, I was convinced that Saint Mary’s was where I wanted to be.” 

Wallace’s job includes not only Saint Mary’s College, but the Sisters of the Holy Cross as well. She also covers interaction with the tri-campus community, stating her hopes for building community between mission leaders.

“I hope that our tri-campus community, through our respective mission leaders, can work on building and articulating the Holy Cross charism throughout our community,” Wallace said. 

Above all, she urges the prioritization of Saint Mary’s mission.

“I hope to empower all our faculty, staff and students to see themselves in our mission of providing a Catholic women’s residential and liberal arts education!” Wallace said.  

Barbara May — Senior vice president and provost

By Riley Kostic

At the beginning of August, Saint Mary’s president Dr. Katie Conboy welcomed Dr. Barbara May to her leadership team as senior vice president and provost. 

May comes to Saint Mary’s after having served at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University in Minnesota for 16 years. For 10 years, May was a biology professor, but made the switch to administration where she held the position of academic dean for six years. 

May says that working in an administrative position allowed her to experience new leadership.

“… I found that at the higher level, at the administrative level, you get to have an influence in a larger way, whether it’s through curriculum or support for students, you’re influencing those offices and programs and you can do so in very positive ways,” she said.

With previous experience at liberal arts schools, Saint Benedict and Saint John’s, a college for women and a college for men respectively, May was drawn to those same aspects at Saint Mary’s. 

“The word I hear a lot here which I truly appreciate is that empowerment — empowering women, giving them the confidence to be leaders and to graduate as lifelong learners, and to take risks,” she said.

As senior vice president and provost, May has a passion for serving students and creating an environment that will best serve them now and in the future.

“… From my perspective, I would love to leave ensuring that we have the right programming for students … that is going to allow them to propel themselves into … whatever career they’re interested in, passionate about, or that doesn’t even exist yet.”

Cathy Doherty


Contact Cathy at cdoherty01@saintmary.edu

Chancelor Gordon


Contact Chancelor at cgordon01@saintmarys.edu

Cora Haddad


Contact Cora at chaddad01@saintmarys.edu

Riley Kostic


Contact Riley at rkostic01@saintmarys.edu

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Lilly Endowment aids College’s summer youth programs

College President Katie Conboy announced in an August press release that Saint Mary’s received a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. The grant will be integral in providing scholarships for Saint Mary’s pre-college programs and summer camps, senior vice president for strategy and finance Dana Strait said.

The endowment provided its funding through the Indiana Youth Programs on Campus initiative.

“Goals for the initiative include increasing the number of Indiana youth who obtain valuable postsecondary degrees and credentials,” the press release said. “It also aims to help colleges and universities strengthen how they recruit students, especially students who have been underserved in higher education.”

According to the press release, the college’s 40-year-old summer camps and pre-college programs typically introduce over 500 girls to Saint Mary’s campus each summer.

“With the Lilly Endowment grant, the College will have the capacity to host more than 1,200 students each summer,” the website reads.

Though the grant will not impact popular athletic camps hosted by the college, the press release said, it will support the Dialogue & Democracy Institute, the Embody Theology Institute and the fine arts and forensics programs.

With money from the grant, Saint Mary’s will grow these pre-college programs by allowing students to participate in them at “low cost to no cost,” Strait said.

“The Lilly Endowment is helping us to jumpstart expanding these programs offering financial assistance and we are committed to sustaining that moving forward,” she said.

Strait noted that Indiana’s college attainment rate is one of the lowest in the country.

“We’re not only flat but we’re also declining and COVID really exacerbated that trend,” she said. “We have fewer families whose parents don’t have college degrees sending their kids to college.”

The programs, Strait said, are designed to help reverse this trend.

“Part of our ambitions as an organization is to expand opportunity to offer enrichment and not only will that change brains and change perspective, but we believe that it will also advance degree-earning opportunity,” she said.

When families visit the Saint Mary’s campus, Strait said, they develop an important sense of comfort.

“Research shows that then they’ll be more likely to feel confident submitting the college application, submitting a deposit, navigating the financial aid process and subsequently enrolling,” she said.

The programs also aim to be a positive influence during summer breaks that could otherwise be a vulnerable time for urban girls.

Contrasting with many suburban youths, “vacations” for urban youth are “where you’re stuck at home while your parents are at work and you have nothing to do all summer long,” Strait said. “It’s a really different definition.”

Rather than spending their time bored at home, the programs aid urban youth in making good experiences over the summer, Strait said.

“It broadens horizons by giving them exposure to a wider variety of experience,” she said.

The programs, Strait said, embody the College’s goals for empowering women.

“One of the central themes is being an institution that provides access opportunity and empowerment to women at all stages of life,” she said.

Liam Price

Contact Liam Price at lprice3@nd.edu