Create a free Diverse: Issues In Higher Education account to continue reading

Helping People Be Their Best


When Sister Dr. Christine De Vinne first came to Ursuline College, a private, Catholic institution in Pepper Pike, Ohio, she was a young woman studying math for her undergraduate degree. In 1996, she returned to campus as a dean, and, in 2015, she became president of her alma mater. It’s been over 50 years since De Vinne first matriculated in the class of 1973. Now is the right time, she says, to step back and hand the reins to the next leader.

Sister Dr. Christine De VinneSister Dr. Christine De VinneUrsuline College was founded by the Ursuline Sisters in 1871 to educate women. The convent and its sisters still serve their mission in the area of Cleveland today, transforming lives around them through contemplation, justice, and compassion. While Ursuline College now accepts all genders, the institution continues to be women-centered and Catholic, in part, thanks to the efforts of De Vinne.

“We talk about Catholic social teaching, how we relate to each other and the world, and we look at things with the promise of justice,” says De Vinne, adding that she considers her college an “historical” women’s college, to honor their original mission. “If you come to Ursuline, no matter who you are or how you identify, you’ll graduate with a better appreciation for accomplishments and capabilities of women.”

Colleagues point to De Vinne’s unique ability to listen, to engage, and to be positive. Her positivity is not naïveté, says Dr. Tim Kinsella, a professor of history at Ursuline for 34 years. De Vinne’s focused energy can carry a campus through trials to the other side, like she did during the COVID-19 pandemic. Kinsella says De Vinne’s steady leadership and ingenuity have kept the institution thriving.

“She’s such a pleasure to talk to and be with. She is so dedicated to Ursuline and the people there,” says Kinsella. It’s her faith and her Ursuline heritage of human dignity that resonates, he adds.

“Dignity prepares students to have an ethical approach to life, the idea that every individual counts,” says Kinsella.

She’s not only found new sources of funding and new pools of potential students, but she embraces and encourages new ideas, says Kinsella.

De Vinne maintains her direct connection with her students by walking the campus, attending almost every event, and by teaching a freshman course. That dedication to hearing students’ voices helped her discover her students were concerned by a lack of diversity in the faculty and board of trustees.

So, De Vinne created the Faculty Diversity Fellowship Program, where new Ph.D. graduates can come live and teach at the institution for at least one year. It not only revitalizes the campus but also brings new fields of study to the students and faculty. The Board of Trustees is now just under 25% people of color, says De Vinne. She also hired an assistant dean for diversity, who has started Black and Latinx student union groups.

Sister Virginia De Vinne, director of Mission at Ursuline, an Ursuline Sister, and Sister Christine De Vinne’s biological sister, said that her sister’s retirement likely signals the last time an Ursuline Sister will lead the institution.

“We don’t have any younger Sisters with the background and the education to serve as college president,” said Sister Virginia, adding that the search committee is dedicated to finding a candidate who will uphold and fulfill the mission of the Ursuline Sisters.

Sister Virginia said that she will dearly miss working side-by-side with her sister, ensuring that Ursuline remains a place of opportunity and excellence that’s dedicated to dignity and justice.

“Our faculty and staff tell us they experience community here, everyone working together for the common purpose or mission,” says Sister Virginia. “It’s a very personal school, which is part of the founder of the Ursuline Sisters, Saint Angela Merici, that was the way she lived her life. Very other-centered, helping people be the best people they can be.”

The trusted source for all job seekers
We have an extensive variety of listings for both academic and non-academic positions at postsecondary institutions.
Read More
The trusted source for all job seekers