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Sister Elizabeth Anne Sueltenfuss, CDP, Ph.D.
2018 Inductee
HACU Hall of Champions

The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) established the HACU Hall of Champions to honor those who embody the mission of the Association through exemplary efforts “To Champion Hispanic Success in Higher Education.” The twelfth and thirteenth inductees into the HACU Hall of Champions are Sister Elizabeth Anne Sueltenfuss, CDP, Ph.D. and J. Michael Ortiz, Ph.D., who were honored on October 6, 2018 during HACU's 32nd Annual Conference.

Sister Elizabeth Anne Sueltenfuss, CDP, was a pioneer and visionary in the field of education, serving as the first female president of Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) and as one of the first Texas women to lead a university. She opened the doors of higher education to thousands of working adults and changed the way universities provide educational services when she oversaw the creation of OLLU’s Weekend College program.

Sister Sueltenfuss, who passed away Dec. 19, 2009 at the age of 88, carried the title of OLLU president emerita. Serving as OLLU’s president from 1978 to 1997, Sister Sueltenfuss is credited with the development of many of the university’s innovative programs and for shepherding a period of unprecedented growth. The Weekend College program developed during Sister Sueltenfuss’ presidency was the first program in South Texas to offer classes through a non-traditional schedule. Established in 1978, the Weekend College program blazed the trail for educational programs designed for older students who are already in the workforce. Today the program is part of OLLU’s array of programs for working adults with weekend, evening and online formats offered in San Antonio, Houston and the Rio Grande Valley.

Under Sister Sueltenfuss’ leadership, OLLU enrollment grew, existing facilities were upgraded and new facilities were built, including the library, which is named in her honor. New academic programs were added, as well. The nation’s first doctor of psychology degree program in counseling psychology accredited through the American Psychological Association was established in 1990 while Sister Sueltenfuss was president. In addition, Texas’ first electronic commerce program was established at OLLU in 1995 during her tenure. The electronic commerce program has grown into OLLU’s bachelor’s and master’s cybersecurity programs. Through these programs, OLLU has been recognized as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) was founded on the OLLU campus during Sister Sueltenfuss’ presidency. In addition, she served as treasurer and executive committee member for HACU. In 2018, HACU inducted Sister Sueltenfuss posthumously into their Hall of Champions in recognition for her efforts to support the success of Hispanics in higher education.

Sister Sueltenfuss was the first member of the Congregation of Divine Providence (CDP), the religious order that founded and still serves as sponsor of OLLU, to serve as president of the university. An active member of the congregation, Sister Sueltenfuss took on leadership and development roles within the order. She entered the congregation in 1939 and made the first profession of vows in 1941. She taught in CDP run schools in Oklahoma, Louisiana and Texas. She served on congregation committees, general chapters and on development teams.

Sister Sueltenfuss’ work in the community carried her influence far beyond the OLLU campus. She served in key positions in many civic and professional groups, including chair of the Executive Committee of the Texas Independent College fund, director and treasurer of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas, and director of the Association of Texas Colleges and Universities.

Sister Sueltenfuss also served on the board of directors of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, the Board of Visitors of the Air Force Institute of Technology, the Army and Air Force Community Councils, the Free Trade Alliance of San Antonio, Avance, American Cancer Society, and the San Antonio Library Foundation. She received numerous awards and honors including the Ford Foundation’s Salute to Education Award, the Brotherhood Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews, the Women in Communications Headliner Award for Professional Achievement, the JC Penney Spirit of the American Woman Award, and the San Antonio Express-News Lifetime Achievement Award.

A native of San Antonio, Sister Sueltenfuss was born April 14, 1921, as Caroline Marie Sueltenfuss. She took the name Elizabeth Anne when she entered the congregation. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Our Lady of the Lake in botany and zoology, and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Notre Dame.

For guidelines on how to nominate someone for the HACU Hall of Champions, click here.