USF Magazine Earns Pride of CASE V Award

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) spent all of 2020 celebrating its centennial. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic challenged the university’s ability to host a majority of its in-person centennial events, other components of the celebration were successfully completed. One such component was a special centennial-themed series of the university’s Engaging Mind & Spirit magazine. The series was received extremely well by the USF community, and has now been recognized with a Bronze Award as part of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s (CASE) annual Pride of CASE V Awards Program.

“To artfully tell the University’s rich 100-year history through stories and imagery in such an impressive presentation was an immense undertaking that required the collective efforts of several USF employees led by the USF Marketing Services Department. To have that work acknowledged with a Pride of CASE V award commemorates those efforts that played an important role in our year-long centennial celebration, while also providing us with a point of pride upon which we can fondly look back for years to come,” said USF President Arvid C. Johnson, Ph.D.

CASE officials indicated that this year’s District V showcase included over 350 entries from higher education institutions that included large state schools such as the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) and the University of Minnesota. Organizationally, CASE District V (the Great Lakes District), includes 400+ member institutions and more than 2,500 institutional representatives from schools in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

The competition judges for the “Magazines > Alumni/General Interest Published three or more times a year” category in which USF’s submission was awarded praised USF’s use of photographs throughout the series.

“One of the strengths of USF’s work is their use of old photos to create nostalgia and tell historic stories. We really enjoyed the ‘Then and Now’ piece. USF is doing good work in relaying information to its readers and keeping the magazine’s look consistent,” the judges said through their evaluation feedback.

While USF’s CASE award was only recently announced, work on the magazine series started back in the fall of 2019, at which time a team of USF employees created a vision for the series in anticipation of the university’s centennial. Each issue of the series was carefully mapped out, with the issues sharing some common components, but with each also featuring some of its own unique components.

“Unique to each issue were special center spreads, such as a large group aerial photo of USF community members in the shape of the number 100 and a spotlight on the new USF Centennial Collage. Each issue contained a new installment of the university’s history, resulting in a three-part feature story written by David Veenstra, Ph.D., USF History Department Chair and Associate Professor of History. Additionally, each issue included recurring components, such as a look at the university presidents through the years, a review of the university’s historical timeline, and comparisons of vintage photos alongside recent photos of the same subjects,” said Dave DiLorenzo, USF Director of Community and Government Relations.

For Julie Futterer, USF Director of Marketing Services and magazine editor, the success of the series resulted from a successful pairing of the past and the present of Joliet’s university.

“Those who know the University of St. Francis know that its past, present and future are deeply intertwined. Our three centennial magazines did a good job of painting that picture by blending rich historical accounts with current-day contributions from a multitude of USF community members, including the Sisters of St. Francis, past and present employees, students, alumni, donors, trustees and friends. That kind of collaboration is what makes the magazine truly special to me. We were also able to get all of the issues out in the midst of a global pandemic, which says something about the creativity, commitment and work ethic of the entire USF team. Overall, being recognized by our colleagues in higher education through a respected organization like CASE is encouraging and I’m just very grateful. This is a nice way to celebrate the end of a ‘unique’ centennial year,” Futterer said.

View the magazine trilogy and learn more about the university’s centennial at

To learn more about the Pride of CASE V award program, visit and select the “Awards” link.

About CASE

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education is the global non-profit association dedicated to educational advancement—alumni relations, communications, development, marketing, and advancement services—who share the goal of championing education to transform lives and society.

The U.S./Canada region of CASE (four global regions) is divided into eight regional districts each district has a volunteer board of directors to oversee operations, programming, and services. District V / Great Lakes represents member institutions in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 51,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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USF Says Goodbye to the Three Oaks

Sister Dolores Zemont prays over the Three Oaks before they are removed from campus after approximately 145 years.

Around 1875, the Sisters of Saint Francis of Mary Immaculate purchased property in Joliet upon which they eventually built a motherhouse that allowed them to take in orphans and boarding students, staff parish schools, and welcome new members into their novitiate. It was also around that time that the Sister Sponsors planted three oak trees on the property. Over the years, the trees grew together as a symbol of relationships and community. Together, the trees became known as the Three Oaks and, beginning in 1920, became a favorite landmark on USF’s beautiful campus for the next 100 years.

During those years, the Three Oaks stood tall and endured many challenges presented by time, weather, and changes to campus. However, recent years and associated challenges took their toll on the Three Oaks, prompting the need to remove them in a proactive measure of campus safety.

On Wednesday, December 16, 2020, representatives of the Sister Sponsors said goodbye to the Three Oaks as these beloved trees were removed from campus, ending a chapter that spanned approximately 145 years.

“My predecessor, Sr. Rosemary Small, told me that the Three Oaks stood guard to the ‘convent yard’ as our Sister Sponsors continue to stand guard over their USF. This really is the close of USF’s first 100 years and the planting of the three new oak trees in front of Tower Hall will help us to pass into the university’s next century,” said Sister Mary Elizabeth Imler, OSF, Vice President of Mission Integration and University Ministry.

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Diane Habiger ’77

Alumni Spotlight: Diane Habiger '77

female headshotThis Thursday, September 17th, the virtual dedication of USF’s Centennial Gateway and Benoit Commons will take place, marking a milestone for the Centennial Campaign. Diane Habiger ’77 has been the alumna chair of the campaign, working alongside co-chairs including her husband, Bill, and Edward and Gloria Dolinger. The chairs had quite the task.

“Our goal has been to raise money for scholarships and to improve the campus. We are nearing our goal, which is $2 million,” Diane explained.

Of that goal, $1 million will be designated for student scholarships, which will give more students the opportunity to learn and grow at USF.

“I hope that there are students out there who will be able to attend USF and graduate because of the scholarships that will be made available. The cost of education has increased so much since I was a student. My sisters and I would not have gotten degrees if USF (then College of St. Francis) was not in Joliet,” Diane explained.

Another $500,000 of the campaign is being raised for the Centennial Gateway, which will celebrate 100 years of Franciscan leadership. This Gateway is also a way of recognizing so many alumni, faculty, administrators, and benefactors of the university. Diane hopes it will add an additional space on campus for students and visitors to interact and grow.

“I also hope that the Gateway will attract students to USF and that the Quad will give students and visitors a place to exchange ideas and grow in the values of respect, integrity, service, and compassion,” she continued.

Finally, the remaining $500,000 is designated to redesigning the Quad to serve as a gathering place and a common area where students can study and socialize.

“It is an exciting project and I am very proud to be part of it,” Diane explained.

Reaching the Centennial Campaign’s $2 million goal required the contribution of many amazing alumni, among other benefactors, who have come together to help others.

 Over the past year it has been inspiring to see how many other alumni have stepped up and contributed to this campaign. I would never have imagined myself heading up this Centennial when I was a student here. I am grateful to all who contributed to our scholarships, the Gateway, and the Quad. Our alumni are incredible. They are almost 50,000 strong. It is very humbling,” she said.

Besides being an outstanding chair of the campaign, Diane is also a member of the Board of Trustees.

“Being a trustee got me involved in what was happening at USF.  Bill and I started participating in different programs and events going on at USF. We both believe that education is a way for so many to move forward in their lives. We decided to contribute annually to the growth of the university. We believe in what the Franciscan Sisters started 100 years ago and want to see USF grow and prosper,” she said.

The University of St. Francis is so grateful for Diane’s co-leadership on the Centennial Campaign and for all she has helped accomplish. For Diane, she simply wishes that other students can experience the same blessings she received from USF and for the university to have another successful 100 years.

“My life has been so connected to the University of St. Francis and the founding Sisters. I know my life has been blessed by this connection and I have learned so much from both. I love being Franciscan and wish that all who come through this beautiful university will be as blessed in their lives as I have been. USF is fortunate to have such dedicated faculty, trustees, administrators, staff, benefactors, and president. I am grateful to Bill and to Ed and Gloria Dollinger for co-chairing this campaign. I know we are headed to another growth-filled 100 years,” Diane said.

#EveryGiftMatters. For more information on the Centennial Gateway or to donate to the Centennial Campaign, visit #USF100

Being Instruments of Peace in These Challenging Times

Being Instruments of Peace in These Challenging Times

The University of St. Francis (USF) began this year in celebration of our founding 100 years ago. The past months and weeks have reminded all of us – students, faculty, and staff – of why we exist and how important it is to continue the University’s mission of “preparing women and men to contribute to the world through service and leadership”…now more than ever before.

On behalf of everyone at USF, we condemn racism and violence.  We deplore bigotry, intolerance, and hatred in any form against anyone.  Bias and discrimination have no place in our society, our communities, or our University.  Indeed, USF was built on the Catholic foundation of respect for the dignity for all.   As Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi modeled 800 years ago, we, too, are called to be examples of compassion and problem solving through dialogue – as “instruments of peace”.  Our University continues to strive to be a “welcoming community of learners” rooted in values that are core to who we are: Respect, Compassion, Service, and Integrity.  May they guide us and focus our work for personal and systemic change.

As a peace site and in concert with our founding and sponsoring congregation, the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate, we support those who – as instruments of peace – take a non-violent stand against injustice, who peacefully protest inequality and injustice, and who demand that institutions implement changes that are needed for a better society.  Considering the events of the past week, it is more important than ever to reflect upon and loudly proclaim our values in order to be clear about where we stand.  And, so, as USF begins this Year of Compassion, we continue to acknowledge the importance of dismantling racism in all its forms, and we implore you to do the same by demanding change and equal justice under the law for our most vulnerable populations.

Even before the events of the past week, USF has seen students, families, and friends displaced by floods, impacted by a worldwide pandemic, and battered by massive changes to the economy.  Our Centennial Celebration has become a year of challenges – calling us to join together as a University community even as we are pulled apart by isolation.  Let us humbly join in prayer to heal the hurt, fear, and resentment that promote conflict in these troubled times.

Make us instruments of Your peace, O God!

Our plans for the next 100 years include our Franciscan values of Respect, Compassion, Service, and Integrity because they are going to remain important – indeed, are indispensable – as we move forward in continuing the legacy of “Our Sisters”. 

Being instruments of peace in these challenging times is not easy, but this is “what is ours to do”.  Let us work to “preach” the Gospel through our values and by the example of our lives, as we work for a true and lasting peace…in solidarity with all of our sisters and brothers.

Arvid C. Johnson

USF to Host Virtual Dedication Ceremony for Centennial Collage on June 4

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) has added several visual reminders to commemorate its centennial, which is being celebrated throughout 2020. The centerpiece of these visual reminders is a one-of-a-kind commemorative work of art created by artist Lawrence Romorini from One Of A Kind Art Studio in Silver Spring, Md., that is displayed in Tower Hall, adjacent to a dedication wall in honor of the university’s founding Sister Sponsors – the Sisters of Saint Francis of Mary Immaculate.

Appropriately named the Centennial Collage, this three-dimensional work honors the legacy of the founding Sister Sponsors and USF’s Franciscan heritage through carefully selected miniaturized photos, publications and other institutional memorabilia. The retrospective reflects USF’s values, mission and vision, while commemorating its history, leaders, innovation and accomplishments since 1920.

About the Centennial Collage

The Centennial Collage measures 46” x 26” x 5”, and is created of mahogany framed in gold and silver leaf. It is designed as an arch to replicate the iconic arches found throughout the campus buildings and in the university logo. A miniature statue of Saint Francis of Assisi is placed at the heart of the piece.

The story, told through the placement of items within the piece, flows from the bottom upward and includes a three-dimensional replica of Tower Hall at the base of the art and a three-dimensional miniature of USF’s iconic Three Oaks tree near the top of it. Over 100 images and three-dimensional items symbolize the growth of programs and recognize USF’s leaders over the first century.

“Over the past year, I’ve been inspired by unique opportunities USF offers its students and the diversity of its programs. The care that USF’s team invested in helping to create their 100th anniversary art is testimony to their dedication to the university and the story they are proud to share,” said Lawrence Romorini, the artist who created the piece.

Creating the Collage

The process of creating the artwork began back in August 2018 when Aubrey Knight, USF Director of Alumni and Family Relations, and Dave DiLorenzo, USF director of Community and Government Relations, were tasked with identifying and selecting items that could be used to tell the university’s 100-year story. The catch? The total number of items that could be included in the piece was capped at just over 100. Additionally, non-negotiable items such as pictures of the school’s nine presidents, along with the university’s mission statement, its core values and variations of the school’s logo counted against the target number of items. Once the parameters were established, the team worked closely with USF archivist Lorene Kennard to identify appropriate items for the piece, and also solicited items and input from the USF community, including employees, alumni and the founding Sister Sponsors.

“We wanted to make sure that this piece represented a collective storytelling effort from the USF community. Given that there was a finite number of items that could ultimately be included in the piece, incorporating a collaborative selection process helped us to make the end result a story told through as many lenses as possible to best represent our legacy,” said Knight.

Once the items were selected, they were sent to One Of A Kind Art Studio in April 2019, which is when Romorini began designing the piece. For the next four months, Romorini worked on his design and consulted Knight, DiLorenzo and Kristin Short, USF Vice President for Advancement, regarding item selection and placement before finalizing the piece. Also during that time, Knight and DiLorenzo assembled a database of images and captions for each item, which have been used to create an accompanying website that serves as a legend for the actual artwork. The finished work of art was delivered to USF in January 2020.

“It was an honor to contribute to such an important piece of USF history,” DiLorenzo said. “It allowed Aubrey and me to learn so much more about the history of USF and see it from a variety of perspectives. The artwork that resulted is beautiful and will now serve as a commemorative piece of the university’s first one hundred years.”

As she has shared sneak previews of the artwork with people at the university in advance of its public unveiling, Short said that the rave reviews she has received reflect the quality of work and effort that went into creating it.

“The University of St. Francis sincerely thanks One of a Kind Art Studio for creating a commemorative art piece in celebration of our 100 year anniversary. This art piece tells our university’s history, mission and core values in a unique and visually appealing display. The artistic detail and craftsmanship is top notch. We will display this beautiful piece of art in the heart of campus for students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends to enjoy for years to come,” Short said.

Dedicating the Centennial Collage

USF will host a virtual dedication ceremony for the Centennial Collage on Thursday, June 4, beginning at 5 p.m. Visit to view the broadcast of the ceremony, as well as to learn more about each of the unique components included in the piece.

About One Of A Kind Art Studio

Lawrence Romorini is founder of One Of A Kind Art Studio, in Silver Spring, Md. He transform everyday objects into personalized works of art that commemorate history, leadership and accomplishments. University of St. Francis joins an extraordinary group whose stories have been preserved in One Of A Kind artwork. They include Ernst & Young, DePaul Health Center, Daughters of Charity, Michael Jordan, Marriott, The Field Museum, Oprah Winfrey, American Society of Civil Engineers, American Institute of Architects, among others, many on

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Currently celebrating 100 years of higher education rooted in Franciscan values, the University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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USF Planning to Resume In-Person Courses and Campus Life This Fall

Joliet, Ill. – Summer courses at the University of St. Francis (USF) opened in an online-only format this week as a continuation of the university’s response to challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. With just over 90 days before fall classes begin, USF officials are working on plans to safely welcome the school community back to campus this fall.

Two task forces, one focused on academics and the other focused on co-curricular and campus life, are currently researching and planning for what a return to campus in the fall might look like. While details for those plans are continuing to come together and will be shared throughout the summer months, USF President Arvid C. Johnson, Ph.D., wants to let current and prospective students know that Joliet’s only four-year university is preparing for a return to campus in the fall.

“It is our goal and hope to welcome students, alumni, employees and the entire USF community back to campus for the Fall 2020 semester. We are currently planning for a number of contingencies for fall classes, all that include a primary focus on continuing to offer our students a world-class educational experience rooted in Franciscan values and that takes place in a safe and healthy environment. While guidelines established by the State and local health officials will ultimately determine if and when college and university campuses in Illinois can open, we are working diligently to be prepared for re-opening campus when that official determination is announced,” Johnson said.

To make USF’s spring even more unique, the university is in the midst of celebrating its centennial. Most events to date have been rescheduled, while others such as commencement have been transitioned to a successful virtual format. Regardless, Johnson is confident that the USF community will continue to make the most of a truly unique year.

“As our centennial year continues, the response of our USF community reminds me of the important roles that resiliency, dedication, determination, and faith have played in shaping our 100-year history. I am both proud of and inspired by how we, as a university community, continue to navigate this challenge and know that our successors will one day look back with pride and inspiration, as well,” Johnson said.

Updated information on USF’s plans for the fall and its ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic can be found at the university’s website,

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Currently celebrating 100 years of higher education rooted in Franciscan values, the University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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