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Sobehart Named First Lay President of Cardinal Stritch University

Dr. Helen C. Sobehart, associate provost and associate academic vice president at Duquesne University, was chosen as the new president of Cardinal Stritch University, Milwaukee, Stritch officials announced today.

The vote by the Cardinal Stritch University’s Board of Trustees to select Sobehart was unanimous because of her proven capacity to be a positive role model to students and her ability to strengthen the university’s academic programs, said Thomas A. Zabjek, chairman of the board. The Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, founders and sponsors of Stritch, approved Sobehart’s selection shortly after the trustee vote earlier today. She will replace Sister Mary Lea Schneider, OSF, Ph.D., who will retire in June after leading the university for 17 years.

“Dr. Sobehart is a highly respected, dynamic and experienced academic leader with a demonstrated commitment to Franciscan values, and we are thrilled to have her build on Sister Mary Lea’s many accomplishments,” Zabjek said. “Dr. Sobehart’s keen intellect— combined with her strong moral values, compassion for others and community involvement—impressed our search committee. Throughout the extensive interview process, which included meetings with students, faculty, alumni, administrators, other staff, trustees and the sponsoring congregation, Dr. Sobehart demonstrated a deep respect for positive change and the university’s rich history.”

Sobehart will become the first lay president in the history of Stritch, which was established in 1937.

"Throughout her career, Helen has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to academic excellence, community service, and increasing opportunities for women in education," said Duquesne University President Charles J. Dougherty. "She made a positive impact at Duquesne and will provide strong leadership as president of Cardinal Stritch."

Sobehart is the second Duquesne administrator in recent years who has been named president of a college or university. Dr. Francesco Cesareo, former dean of Duquesne's McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts, was inaugurated as president of Assumption College in Fall 2007.

In addition to her position as associate provost and associate academic vice president, Sobehart has served as director and a faculty member for the University’s Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program for Educational Leaders and Leadership Institute. Before that, she was superintendent of the Fox Chapel Area School District in Pittsburgh for seven years.

Sobehart holds a Doctorate of Arts in history from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in education from Duquesne and a B.A. in sociology and psychology from Slippery Rock University. She is married with two grown sons, one daughter-in-law and one grandson.

An accomplished speaker and writer, Sobehart has been published in numerous academic journals nationwide and has authored a book scheduled for release later this year titled Women Leading Education Across the Continents: Sharing the Spirit, Fanning the Flame.

Zabjek noted that much of Sobehart’s career has also been devoted to her commitment to community involvement and public service. She has served on a variety of boards focusing on the homeless, minority scholarships, foster children and women in educational leadership. Earlier this year, Sobehart received the prestigious Dr. Effie Jones Humanitarian Award from the American Association of School Administrators, a national honor that recognizes individual efforts related to the advocacy and support of women and minorities in education.

For  Sobehart’s full biography, an audio interview and video of her remarks to Stritch, visit www.stritch.edu.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.