Grace McDonald, who served Viterbo University for nearly half a century as history professor, president and member of the Board of Trustees, died Sunday at age 90.
McDonald, a Fran-ciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, was “a visionary who did a great deal to make Viterbo what it is today,” said Mary Maloney Funk, a longtime member of the Board of Trustees.
She led Viterbo through a time of opportunity and change, said Pat Kerrigan, vice president of communications and marketing at Viterbo. Under her leadership Viterbo became co-ed. During her presidency, lay members were appointed to the Board of Trustees, a new residence hall was constructed and she led the process to build a $5.2 million Fine Arts Center.
“She was so courageous at that time,” said Cyrilla Barr who was chairwoman of Viterbo’s Music Department when the Fine Arts Center was being planned. “Money was pretty scarce ... It was taking a risk to put up this building, but she was right there believing.”
McDonald also embraced a role as a Franciscan sister, becoming FSPA president in 1970 and serving in many other capacities including historian and archivist.
McDonald was someone who truly embodied her name, “I never saw Grace as anything but graceful and peaceful,” said Mary Ann Gschwind, FSPA, chairwoman of Viterbo’s Board of Trustees.