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Trinity Community to Remember Dr. Jean Willke at a Memorial Mass on Saturday, May 5


Message from President Patricia McGuire to the Trinity Community

With sadness, I regret to inform you of the death of Dr. Jean Willke, one of Trinity’s legendary faculty members and academic leaders. Dr. Willke died in Cincinnati on March 31, 2007, after a long illness.

To honor her many contributions to the intellectual life of Trinity and our alumnae, we will have a memorial Mass in Jean’s memory on Saturday, May 5, 2007 at 11 am in Notre Dame Chapel, followed by lunch in Alumnae Hall. Please r.s.v.p. to Shelli Dronsfield in my office if you plan to attend: 202-884-9050, or

Dr. Willke began her teaching career in the History Department at Trinity in 1959. At that time, Trinity’s History Department was also home to such Trinity greats as Sr. Joan Bland and Sr. Mary Lawlor; Dr. Joan Kinnaird and Sr. Mary Hayes later joined the department, and along with Dr. Willke, they were a formidable academic team.

A graduate of Edgecliff College in Cincinnati and Catholic University, where she earned her M.A. and Ph.D., Dr. Willke was renowned for her faithful attention to historic details. Personally, I took several courses with Dr. Willke who never failed to astonish me with her vast command of the historic roots of contemporary social and political conditions.

Dr. Willke exercised great leadership on behalf of Trinity and our faculty, serving as chair of the History Department and numerous committees, faculty representative to the Board of Trustees, and twice as the chief academic officer — academic dean from 1978 to 1981, and later as vice president for academic affairs from 1989 to 1991. She agreed to take on the latter position at my request when I became Trinity’s president in 1989 and the vice president’s position was vacant. We needed very strong leadership in those days, and I knew that I needed a strong, steady presence in academic affairs. I remain always grateful to “Dean Jean” for taking on this difficult job.

I hope you can join us as we remember Dr. Willke on May 5. Even if you cannot be present in person, I am sure that her family and former colleagues will appreciate your notes of remembrance, so feel free to send them to me at Please join me in offering prayers of remembrance and thanksgiving for Dr. Willke.


Patricia McGuire


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For more information contact Ann Pauley, Media Relations Trinity, 125 Michigan Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20017, (202) 884-9725.