Sister Gabrielle Hands Over Reins of AFCU After 10 years

Monday, October 8, 2012 1:25:00 AM
After more than 10 years as the executive director of the Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities (AFCU), Sister Gabrielle Kowalski, OSF, Ph.D, is stepping down and handing the reins over to Dr. Kevin Godfrey on July 1. The transition in leadership will also mean a shift in the location of the AFCU headquarters from Cardinal Stritch University to Alvernia University in Pennsylvania.

The AFCU is a consortium of 22 Franciscan schools nationwide that join together to collaborate, share resources, and provide a forum to discuss ways to keep the Franciscan charism alive as the numbers of religious personnel serving those institutions decline. The organization's major collaborative initiatives include a biennial symposium, an annual journal, a joint Web site, an online certificate program in Franciscan studies, and student pilgrimage opportunities.

"It's been a real pleasure to work with and see the dedication of the people who are members of the organization in terms of their real strong commitment to maintaining the Catholic, Franciscan focus of their institutions," Sister Gabrielle said.

As the first executive director of a brand-new organization, Sister Gabrielle led AFCU through its early stages of development: getting incorporated, achieving nonprofit status, gaining name recognition, drafting bylaws, and creating a mission statement. With the AFCU office on the Stritch campus, the University had the opportunity to support some of these ongoing operations for the organization, including offering financial accounting services; creating the AFCU logo, thanks to the talents of a former Stritch professor and his student; supporting the AFCU website, and hosting the first AFCU symposium.

“On behalf of the AFCU, I want to thank her extensively for the work she’s done over all these years,” said Sister M. Elise Kriss, OSF, president of the University of St. Francis and current chair of the board of directors for the AFCU. “She’s been involved since the organization’s inception, and her work has been invaluable. I think all the accomplishments of the organization have to be somewhat attributed to Sister Gabrielle’s oversight and coordination of efforts. We wish her well.”

While Stritch will continue its membership in the AFCU and involvement in many of its initiatives, Sister Gabrielle will have no official role in the organization and instead will continue her half-time status as a professor of special education.