Sister Susan Rieke received special recognition from the Kansas City Alumni Council of the University of Saint Mary (USM) during the group’s annual fall luncheon on Sunday, Nov. 17. Professor, scholar, poet and advocate for the humanities, Sister Susan retired from USM in May 2017. She continued as an adjunct professor teaching in the English program.

Sister Susan attended Saint Mary College (today’s USM) for two years then entered the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth. With a bachelor’s degree in English from Saint Mary’s, she taught in high schools in Nebraska, Montana and Kansas. During this time, Sister Susan earned her master’s degree through the University of Iowa, Iowa City. She returned to Saint Mary’s as a professor for one year and served as director of admissions for five years. After the next two years in the classroom, Sister pursued her doctorate, which she received through the University of Iowa. 

Back at USM, Sister Susan rose through the academic ranks from assistant to professor. She was chair of the language and literature department for 15 years. In 2020, USM named Sister Susan the first McGilley Chair for Liberal Studies. 

Dr. Judy Vogelsang, who chaired the fall luncheon, said that Sister Susan has remained very active with the alumni, attending their events and reading poetry as part of the programs. In Sister Susan’s honor, the KC Alumni Council made a donation toward scholarships at the college.  

Pictured left to right at the alumni council luncheon, Dr. Judy Vogelsang and Sisters Diane Steele, Susan and Rosie Kolich. (Photo compliments of Bill Staggs)