Brescia pays tribute to past Principals at Baccalaureate Ceremony

News Release
June 16, 2014

London, ON – As part of its annual Baccalaureate and Magisterial Exercises, held at St. Peter’s Basilica yesterday, Brescia University College honoured its past ten Principals, who helped shape Brescia into Canada’s only all women’s university. Brescia was founded in 1919 by the Ursuline Religious of the Diocese of London. The Ursuline Sisters are strong women of faith, who are committed to social justice, community service, and the development of women.

Since 1919, Brescia has had the honour of having a total of ten exceptional female leaders completing terms in the role of Principal. Of the ten bold women who have held the position, three are currently living and two were in attendance at yesterday’s celebration. They include: Sister Frances Ryan, who served as Principal from 1974 until 1977, and has been an educator for over 40 years; Sister Dolores Kuntz, who was unable to attend the Ceremony, served from 1977 until 1999, and continued to live in residence for another eight years at Brescia, and act as Brescia’s System Support Specialist; and Dr. Theresa Topic, serving from 1999 until 2008 and, who has continued to stay on as a faculty member at Brescia until her retirement this year. The other seven women, who have since passed away, include: Mother St. Anne Lachance (1920 – 1930 and 1933 – 1938); Mother Immaculate Dwyer (1930 – 1933); Mother Francis Clare Connor (1938 – 1939); Mother St. James Hickey (1939 – 1945 and 1947 – 1956); Mother Marie Rosier (1945 – 1947 and 1956 – 1963); Sister Dominica Dietrich (1963 – 1969); and Sister Arleene Walker(1969-1974).

Chair of Brescia’s Board of Trustees Liz Hewitt, who honoured the women yesterday, said, “This day has always been a very special celebration for the Brescia community, as we bid farewell to another graduating class of young women, who will embark on leadership opportunities beyond the classroom. It was fitting to acknowledge our former Principals, on the same day, as all ten of these women played a large role in shaping what Brescia has become today and what it will continue to be for future graduates to come.”

Brescia’s current Principal, Dr. Colleen Hanycz, was also in attendance, along with Brescia’s graduating Class of 2014 and over 700 family members and guests of the graduates. The Ceremony also included guest speaker and Brescia alumna, Martha Dutrizac, who retired in 2013 as Director of the Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board.

Brescia’s celebration continues today with the Convocation Ceremony being held at Western. The Class of 2014 will formally process down the Brescia hill to Alumni Hall at 1:30 p.m. led by bagpiper, Eileen Robertson, Director of Student Affairs and Registrar, Marianne Simm, and Director of Campus Ministry, Catherinanne George.


For more information please contact Colleen Aguilar, Communications, Marketing & External Relations Officer at 519.432.8353, ext. 28280 or at You may also contact Sheila Blagrave, Director Communications, Marketing & External Relations at 519-432-8353, ext. 28293 or at Brescia University College, Canada’s only women’s university college, is affiliated with Western University. The 1,275 women registered as either full- or part-time students at Brescia study a wide variety of subjects in Arts, Social Sciences, and Foods & Nutrition in an empowering, compassionate, student-centred, and invigorating environment. Degrees are granted by Western. The Catholic College welcomes students from all backgrounds and values diversity. For more current and archived news, a listing of faculty experts, and photos please visit our Online Media Room at