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Christine Pharr, Ph.D. inaugurated twelfth president of Mount Mary University

In a ceremony that drew strongly upon themes of community, Mount Mary University officially installed its 12th president, Christine Pharr, Ph.D., on Friday, April 20.

In her inaugural address, “A Community of our Making,” Dr. Pharr explained the empowerment that comes from networks of support – “it takes a community to lead a meaningful life,” she said. “No one is successful on their own.”

Mount Mary University was founded in 1913 by the School Sisters of Notre Dame. It was the first four-year, degree-granting Catholic institution for women in Wisconsin. Today it serves a minority-majority population and offers more than 30 undergraduate majors for women and nine graduate programs for women and men in four schools: Arts & Design; Humanities, Social Sciences & Education; Natural & Health Sciences; and Business.

The need for community is particularly important at Mount Mary, Dr. Pharr explained, because it is foundational for single-sex institutions. Mount Mary is building a strong foundation for women to lead, she concluded.

The United States is ranked 103 in the world in women leaders at a national level, she said.

“This is a place where we believe one person can make a difference,” she said. “We are a beacon of hope, a tower of light for our future.”

The ceremony included a blessing circle comprised of various representatives from Dr. Pharr’s life and community – her family, former colleague’s parish, Mount Mary faculty, and staff. For more details, visit

Dr. Pharr has been president of the university since July 1, 2017. She possesses a passion for women’s leadership, particularly in the sciences. After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from Mount Marty College in Yankton, South Dakota, Dr. Pharr went on to earn a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of South Dakota and a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from the University of Idaho.