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Sr. Austin Doherty

Sister Austin Doherty
(1927 - 2015)
Alverno College
1961 - 2013


Sr. Bernarda Handrup

Sister Bernarda Handrup
(1927 - 1987)
Alverno College
1954 - 1987

Early Pioneers of Alverno's Ability Based Curriculum

Sisters Austin Doherty and Bernarda Handrup were early pioneers of Alverno College’s ability based curriculum. As members of the 1968 Academic Planning Committee, Doherty and Handrup spearheaded the research, analysis and curriculum development that led to Alverno’s instituting an ability based curriculum and changing the Alverno learning process.

The persistence and dedication of these educators to the concept of competences and an abilities based education helped the college weather a flurry of criticism and skepticism from academic institutions around the country during the early 1970’s. 

As time passed, the new curriculum’s success after success  and its impact would become apparent to not only the Alverno faculty, but other academic institutions and governing boards. The 1986 National Governors’ Association Task Force on College Quality report, “A Time for Results”  cited Alverno’s competence assessment  as a “model for other campuses to heed”. 

In a 1991 Alverno Magazine article on  Sister Austin Doherty, she insisted “We never dreamed that what we were doing would turn into a matter of national interest. We just kept asking ourselves two questions: 1) What should a student be able to do when she leaves Alverno College? and  2) What can we do to make those outcomes happen?” 

Sr. Georgine Loacker
Sister Georgine Loacker
(1925 - 2013)
Alverno College
1957 - 2012

Sisters Georgine Loacker and Celestine Schall were integral to the Academic Planning Committee from researching and analyzing data to the implementation of the ability-based curriculum at Alverno College.

Focusing on performance-assessment methods and experiential learning, respectively, Loacker and Schall worked tirelessly to develop core standards that Alverno would utilize in the structuring of the ability based curriculum.  Over the years, their work would be documented in numerous publications and articles. Both Schall and Loacker would become experts in the field of experiential learning and ability-based learning.

Sr. Celestine Schall
Sister Celestine Schall
Alverno College
1971 - Present