Sister Jeanne Knoerle


Honorary Degree (1975)
Doctor of Laws
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: John William Ryan


Sister Jeanne Knoerle assumed the office of presidency of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in Terre Haute in 1968 after having been a member of that faculty for about ten years. It was the logical reward and challenge for a woman who had distinguished herself as scholar, administrator, and above all, as a humanist. After receiving her B.A. from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, she came to Indiana University where she took a Master's degree in Journalism in 1961. Between 1963 and 1966, she was the recipient of an Indiana University Fellowship and a Non-Western Studies Project Fellowship. In 1966 she was awarded the Ph.D. in Comparative Literature. Her special interest in Asian literature led her, in the same year, to the Far East, where she served as a Fulbright Scholar and Visiting Professor at Providence College in Taichung, Taiwan. In 1972 she wrote a critical study of the eighteenth-century classic, The Dream of the Red Chamber, which deals with the plight of a young woman's struggle for survival in a closed and repressive society. In addition, she has published regularly in important journals on subjects as diverse as Horace's Ars Poetica, the poetic theories of Lu-Chi, Ezra Pound and Chinese literature, and the place of women in Chinese society.

Sister Jeanne Knoerle has served as board member of the Governor's Commission on the Status of Women, as President of the Indiana Conference of Higher Education, as member of the Executive Committee of the National Catholic Educational Association, and on numerous national, state, and local committees. At Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, she initiated a number of new curricula, among them the highly successful Women's External Degree Program.

Sister Jeanne Knoerle's concern with the "essential femininity" is thoroughly in the spirit of enlightened involvement with the role of women today. In her inaugural speech in 1968 she maintains that the education of the modern woman, aiming for an integrated personality, "should differ not at all from that given to men with whom she goes to school and with whom she will work, a truism women have had to fight for over the last century .... The fight has led us of necessity to a bid for one equality which, in effect, has forced femininity to be made equal to masculinity to be recognized at all." In her eloquent way, Sister Jeanne Knoerle confronts the per-plexities of the young woman - or man - of our generation and offers us not facile traditional answers but acknowledges both difficulties and possible resolutions. Her scholarly endeavors and her pedagogical commitment, sustained by persistence and enthusiasm, envision a more humane future.

Her international interests are apparent in the organizations to which she belongs - the Asia Society, the Association for Asian Studies, and the American Society for Eastern Arts. Sister Jeanne is listed in Leaders in Education, as well as in Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who Among Authors and Journalists, and Who's Who in Religion.