Remembering Weezie

​Weezie—or, if we’re being formal, which we at CIC almost never were with her, Sister Marylouise Fennell, RSM—was at the heart of our organization and our community for three decades. Losing her as we recently did affected CIC members and members of staff powerfully. Typically, CIC does not publish tributes to departed friends and colleagues, but Weezie was exceptional.

In CIC circles, almost everyone knew Weezie, but everyone knew her in different ways. We recently heard, for example, from a president who recalled that his particular connection to Weezie was through her tireless work to build international connections among colleges and universities with similar educational values. Other member presidents and chief academic officers found a mentor in Weezie through the consulting sessions she offered at Presidents Institutes and Institutes for Chief Academic Officers over the years, where they worked through important questions supported by her complete attention and generous wisdom. Presidents who participated in CIC’s New Presidents Program may have benefitted from Weezie’s influence without realizing it: she was one of the founding spirits of that influential signature program. Many in leadership positions at member colleges found their dream jobs through Weezie’s work as a search consultant; the firm she co-founded with Cheryl Hyatt has been one of CIC’s longest and most loyal sponsors. At the Institute for Chief Academic Officers, participants in the Women’s Luncheon vied for seats at Weezie’s table for roundtable discussion of why, and how, they might consider a presidency. One of the most typical sights of any large CIC event was Weezie, off in a relatively quiet corner, deep in one-on-one conversation with a colleague and with a twinkle in her eye.

For CIC staff, she was a bit of a guardian angel. Whether as senior counsel, a role she held for years, or simply as a friend of the organization, Weezie was quick to recognize and praise staff work of the behind-the-scenes kind that might have been invisible to the membership. Longstanding members of staff knew they could find good cheer and sensible advice by talking to her. New colleagues would receive a warm welcome from this self-described “supernun,” as large of heart as she was small of stature, who was eager to hear about their past experiences and their fresh ideas for the organization she so loved.

And she did love CIC, its member institutions and its people and its mission, with her customary practicality, energy, tirelessness, good sense, and of course that twinkle in her eye. We will carry on our work with loving memory of her, knowing we are better for having known Weezie.