Long before she left the gift that went on to found the University, Mary Lucretia Creighton would go to the poorest parts of Omaha to give money and household items to those most in need. Her horse (named “Billy”) was known throughout the city.
Visiting the University (then Creighton College), Sarah Emily Creighton was distressed by the Jesuits’ accommodations. She and her husband made a gift to build them a new residence, erecting a south wing to the main building.
The Creighton family, including the Wareham sisters, achieved great success in their lifetimes. But today they’re remembered not for what they gained but what they gave.
Today, we honor the achievements of these two extraordinary women through an award bearing their name.
Each year, Creighton's Committee on the Status of Women presents the Mary Lucretia and Sarah Emily Creighton Awards to female faculty, staff or students who have created an environment supportive of achievement for women, encouraged women in the development of their talents, or have served as a role model of accomplishment for women.
Creighton also honors women through stories of the talented, compassionate individuals of Creighton who continue Mary Lucretia and Sarah Emily's legacy of living for others today. We will continue to update this page with articles about the extraordinary women shaping Creighton.
Know of a female Creighton student, alumna, faculty or staff member who would make a good story? Contact RachelMabrey@creighton.edu.
* * *
2022 Mary Lucretia & Sarah Emily Award Recipients Holly Ann Harris, PhD, and Charisse Williams, MA
* * *
Creighton women: a timeline of firsts
1878 — “Mrs. Hall,” becomes one of Creighton’s first faculty members, teaching English in the first year of classes.
1892 — Kate Drake, Creighton’s first female student, enrolls in the new medical school. She was the first woman to be admitted to any Jesuit university in the U.S.
1884 — Dr. C. B. Offersen becomes the School of Medicine’s first female physician.
1898 — Anna Marie Griffith, MD’1898, is the first woman to graduate from Creighton and complete all medical school training.
1901 — Mattie Arthur becomes the first woman on the University’s medical staff.
1908 — Creighton’s first female dental school students graduate.
1916 — Bertha Winterton, JD’1916, and Clara Witt Breuer, JD’1916, become the first women to graduate from the School of Law.
1920 — The Heider College of Business (then the College of Commerce, Accounting and Finance) opens, with an initial enrollment of 66 men and eight women.
1933 — World-renowned aviator Amelia Earhart visits Omaha and expresses interest in Creighton’s School of Medicine. “Are there women in your medical college?” she asked Creightonian reporter Mary Ellen Leary, BA’34. Earhart said she believes “very thoroughly in women following professions, or at least being in touch with the modern world.”
1937 — Olive Odorisio Circo, BA’41, becomes the first female cheerleader at Creighton. She was also one of the first women to attend Creighton as an undergraduate.
1943 — Melba Faucett, BA’43, becomes Creighton’s first Black female graduate. She worked as an assistant librarian on campus until 1951.
1948 — The Hon. Elizabeth D. Pittman, BS’47, JD’48, becomes the first Black woman to graduate from the School of Law. She would go on to be the first Black person and first woman to be appointed as a judge in Nebraska.
1950 — Maurine Hamilton is hired as Dean of Women, making her Creighton’s first female administrator.
1972 — Ann L. Czerwinski, School of Pharmacy and Health Professions, becomes the first female President of the University Faculty. She would be followed a decade later in the role by chemistry professor Marcia C. Davies in the College of Arts & Sciences.
1973 — Frances Ryan comes to Creighton in 1973 as the first female professor in the School of Law. The Frances Ryan Scholarship honors her memory as a trailblazer and a champion for diversity.
1973 — Softball becomes Creighton’s first organized women’s sport.
1974 — Madeline Jacobsen, an Omaha real estate developer and businesswoman, is appointed to the University's Board of Directors, the first female board member.
1982 — Eileen Lieben, MA'62, is named the acting Vice President of Student Personnel, becoming Creighton’s first female VP. Lieben had been at Creighton for 20 years at this point, serving as the University’s Dean of Women and Associate Dean of Students.
1987 — Mary Higgins, BA’73, becomes the first woman inducted into the Creighton Athletics Hall of Fame. As the softball team’s coach, she owned a 564-298 record in 17 years, helping Creighton reach the NCAA's Women's College World Series twice and the AIAW World Series twice. She was also one of Creighton’s first female student-athletes.
Source: The Creightonian
STORIES OF CREIGHTON WOMEN
A new history of Omaha (and Creighton) women
Eileen Wirth’s new history of notable Omaha women frequently reads as a history of notable Creighton women, as the stories of the city and the University are inextricably connected.Read the story
The faith, vision, and generosity of Creighton women
“I’ve been known to tell students and fellow alumni that because neither Creighton couple had children who survived past the age of five, we are the descendants of the Creightons and must help live out their legacy." Katie Wadas-Thalken, EdD, Assistant Dean for Academic AffairsRead the story
Black alumni board blazing new trails at Creighton
We spoke with National Black Alumni Advisory Board President Bridget Hadley, BSBA'88, about how the board will help shape the future of equity, diversity and inclusion at Creighton.Read the story
Alumna talks about the Creighton faculty and staff who saved her life
Long before Danae Mercer, BA'09, became a Dubai-based journalist and Instagram influencer promoting body positivity to her 2 million followers, she was a Creighton student in crisis.Read the story
Simone Biles' physical therapist is a Creighton alumna
Creighton alumna Beth Riemersma, DPT’05 — physical therapist to Simone Biles and Jordan Chiles — discusses the joys and challenges of treating Olympic gymnasts.Read the story
Preparing more than 600 Creighton couples for marriage
As coordinator of St. John’s marriage preparation since 2013, Kathy Martin has helped more than 600 Creighton couples get ready to walk down the aisle. Here's what she's learned.Read the story
Creighton alumna breaks BIG in Hollywood
This fall, a Creighton Heider College of Business alumna saw her credit as executive producer of a big-budget studio picture, the new-to-theaters Clifford the Big Red Dog.Read the story
An unceasing gift
On Creighton's fourth annual Giving Day, Jessica St. Clair Muñoz, JD'05, was reintroduced to the Frances Ryan Diversity Scholarship. This time, not as a recipient, but as a donor.Read the story
First female collegiate baseball coach in state history
Until recently, Kaitlynn Hunt, BA’20, didn’t know she’d earned dual degrees at Creighton — one in the classroom, one on the field.Read the story
Creating greater diversity, equity and inclusion at Creighton
We spoke with Sarah Walker, PhD, vice president of the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, about her goals, priorities and hopes for Creighton’s future.Read the story
Creighton Law opens new Juvenile Justice Clinic
The grant-funded clinic will serve as a small firm, with student-attorneys providing free legal services for youth with open cases in the Separate Juvenile Court of Douglas County.Read the story
A new endowed chair in the medical humanities
The inaugural holder of Creighton’s newest endowed chair is an artist whose work has been exhibited throughout the world and can be found in the private collections of primatologist Jane Goodall and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.Read the story
Law professor inspires student through funeral and burial project research
For 3L student Sarah Mielke, the human element and weight of emotions are at the core of life, learning and problem-solving.Read the story
Caring for our medical students through scholarships
No one in Kailynn Phillips’ family went to college, let alone medical school. And yet her mother, Diane, who raised her in a small Wisconsin town, never let her question her dreams. She was determined to give Kailynn a life better than her own, no matter what it took.Read the story
A dental faculty dedicated to service
Adjunct Assistant Professor Andrea Hall, DDS, and Associate Professor Kirstin McCarville, DDS, MS, exemplify the passion, drive, and dedication to service guiding the Creighton ethos.Read the story
Making the most of her Creighton scholarships
Recipient of two Graduate Deans’ Scholarships, Elizabeth Crampsey considers herself fortunate—and mindful that the same aid does not exist for all graduate students. “There are limited financial opportunities for support at the graduate level,” she says, “I feel blessed.”Read the story
The integral interprofessional
Joan M. Lappe, PhD, RN, FAAN, MS’85, is an important figure within the College of Nursing. On second thought, the word “important” does not fully do justice.Read the story
Passion, persistence, and scholarship prepare student for excellence
Maggie Larsen says her education in the School of Dentistry exceeded her expectations and has prepared her to be a competent and compassionate dental professional.Read the story
How Creighton scholarships have changed my life
"Without my scholarship aid, I don't think I'd be at Creighton. It eases the stress on my family and makes this possible. The least I can do, in return, is work hard and do my best."Read the story
‘Diva’ alumna draws on her Creighton experience
Alumna Chelsey Hill, BFA’14, talks about the life-changing Creighton classes that prepared her for a career as the "Illustrating Diva" of the Metropolitan Opera.Read the story
Meeting a need in Phoenix
Britney Bell, BSCHM’13, MD’18, vividly remembers the stress of Match Day. After completing her last two years of medical school in Phoenix, she didn’t want to go anywhere else for her residency.Read the story
Students take spotlight at campaign launch
Saturday night outside the Hixson-Lied Science Building, Creighton President the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD, publicly launched the largest and most comprehensive fundraising campaign in the University’s history.Read the story
Community comes through during crisis
For occupational therapy student Sarah Synek, the support she received during an unprecedented spring semester reaffirmed her faith in the Creighton community and her belief in the Jesuit mission.Read the story
Alumna’s generosity guided by service
Rebekah Kornblum, BSBA’15, is committed to giving the most of herself to others through both service and philanthropy. Her Creighton experience was essential in her journey to becoming a woman for and with others.Read the story
A home 3,700 miles away from home
It can be tough to move one state over to attend college, let alone the 3,740 miles. Jennifer Taniguchi traveled from Hilo, Hawaii, to Omaha to study business at Creighton.Read the story
Driven by tradition to transform the Southwest
Guided by their hearts and innovative vision, Doris Norton and her late husband, John, created a legacy of giving that continues to underscore their passion and commitment for shaping health care education and delivery in Phoenix and the Southwest.Read the story
Creighton alumna and her family start mask-making operation
A Creighton alumna has co-founded a makeshift mask-making operation with her mom, her grandma and their trusty sewing machine.Read the story
Creighton dental grad gets at the root of things
"There’s something that shakes you to your core about the Jesuit tradition. The giving and acceptance and service, it changed my life." — Sue Bon Tiede, DDS’91Read the story
Four generations of Bluejays
Shortly before she died in 2018, Adelaide — or “Corky,” as her friends knew her — was able to see her granddaughter graduate from Creighton, making them a four-generation Creighton family.Read the story
Helping Creighton students however she can
For nearly 40 years, former nursing faculty member Linda Lazure, PhD, supported students emotionally and intellectually. And for quite a few years now, she’s supported them financially, too.Read the story
Why the Creighton experience is so much more
Diana Ndunda came to the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions with a vision in mind and a mission at heart. “I moved to the United States to go to pharmacy school,” says the Kenyan-born student. “I knew I wanted to serve others, and that this career path would give me purpose.”Read the story
'I choose to have hope' — Omaha Reads author and Creighton alumna reflects on reading, resilience and the apocalypse
Kassandra Montag's "After the Flood" has been selected as the 2020 Omaha Reads pick by the Omaha Public Library.Read the story
Creighton alumna and her friends' photo project goes viral
Like so many worthwhile creative endeavors, The Brooklyn Queens of Quarantine was spurred by boredom and isolation — two muses working overtime at the moment.Read the story