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
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.