Transforming Catholic women's education in the sixties: Sister Catherine Wallace's feminist leadership at Mount Saint Vincent University Sister Catherine Wallace's Feminist Leadership at Mount Saint Vincent University

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Heidi Macdonald


Sister Catherine Wallace (1917-91) was president of Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU), Canada’s only degree-granting women’s post-secondary institution, from 1965 to 1974. Wallace’s appointment coincided with a transformative era not only in the North American post-secondary landscape, but also in the Roman Catholic Church and the women’s movement.  Wallace was acutely aware that this combination of factors would require a transformation of MSVU itself for the institution to survive the next decade. Wallace ultimately strengthened MSVU’s identity and gave it a more outward-looking vision by embedding many of the goals of second-wave feminism, including the recommendations of the Report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada (1970), in the University’s renewal. She also gave the university a more national profile through her work on the executive of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), including in 1973 as their first woman president.

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Part II: Catholic education at the intersection with the “long 1960s"