As Cathy Mathweg prepares for the final day of what has been 30 years as a staff member at Marian University, the Associate Vice President for Mission and Dean, Academic Advising and Academic Services doesn’t feel like she’s been here that long.
“Really, it’s not until I look at my 29-year-old son Joseph, or my 27-year-old son Michael, that it hits me how the time has flown,” she said. “I never viewed my time at Marian as work, rather it was in service to the university, the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes (CSA), my colleagues and our students.”
Mathweg said the quote “Do what you’ll love, and you’ll never work another day in your life” often comes to mind when she thinks about her time at Marian, and we were fortunate enough to be able to sit down one final time with Cathy before she leaves a campus that hasn’t lacked her calming and supportive presence in three decades.
What are your memories from that first day?
I started Nov. 12, 1990 – I was six months pregnant with Joseph but no one could tell! I was hired to be a Coordinator, Academic Advising and work 20 hours per week. I remember meeting with Sr. Deborah Walter, who hired me and was the Director of the Student Support Center, and we discussed my role and its responsibilities before I met with the rest of the team, including Gretchen Gall, who was the Coordinator, Disability Services, and who was managing the advising at the time. Sr. Deborah and I were both from Chicago, and come to find out her father and I had been a member of the same parish while I was growing up.
What drew you to Marian, and what has stood out about working at it over the years?
I had met my husband, Tim, and relocated to Fond du Lac and was looking for a job. I sent my resume to Marian, interviewed for a position with Sr. Judith Schmidt but it ended up not being filled, so then I applied for an academic advising position, interviewed, and was hired. I had given some thought to being a teacher but ended up working in healthcare for 14 years and then another eight in business before arriving at Marian. Academic advising is an extension of teaching, it just involves a different method than in-class learning. When I was hired I learned more about the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes (CSA), Marian’s mission and core values, and it became apparent it was meant to be because those were already parts of my personal and family’s moral compass. A lot stands out over 30 years, but it always comes back to the students who attended Marian during my time here. Whether they graduated or not, you could see them and their families transform, and it was amazing being a part of that. Seeing students embrace Marian’s mission transcends the CSA mission, and seeing them carry that through with them into their life beyond college has been incredibly rewarding.
Do you have a favorite memory?
There are too many to share, but the common thread between them has always been Marian’s mission, its core values and those who make up its community. I’ve been blessed to work with some of the best faculty and staff imaginable, was mentored by the incomparable Dr. Sheryl Ayala, and it’s been extraordinary to witness everyone working together for their colleagues and to meet the needs of students. They’ve not only been people I work with, but they’ve become my friends.
I must say, it was special to witness, before the Working Family Grant (WFG) Program was established, Sr. Deborah Walter create the Education Grant for Women and Children, which was generously sponsored by CSA due to a need for single parent students needed assistance. From that grant, the WFG Program was launched. Being a part of those groups and seeing the impact those programs have had on the students and their children, whether it was pursuing graduate school or careers, is meaningful.
And it’s been an honor to get to know the CSA members become an associate, while also working with Sr. Judith Schmidt, Sr. Susan Treis, Sr. Deborah Golias, and Sr. Margaret Lorimer, who combined have 130 years of service to the University and created the University prayer. I always felt privileged to represent Marian at state, national, and international academic advising organization conferences.
Are there any career achievements in particular that you are proud of?
I’m thankful that I had opportunities to grow professionally, which included attending and presenting at various conferences. I’m honored to have been a part of the formation of the Wisconsin Academic Advising Association, where I served on the board, as secretary, parliamentarian, and president across 10 years. I enjoyed serving on a task force for the National Academic Advising Association and being a conference program reviewer for many years. Becoming a Strengths-Based Educator with Gallup, completing a post-Master’s Certificate in Academic Advising, and completing another master’s degree in Educational Technology to better understand how students learning online and how classes are delivered online – those are all things I’m proud of.
Early on I was advising undeclared students. In 1997 we realized there were students who did not meet Marian’s admissions criteria but had a desire to pursue a post-secondary education. Through the efforts of a group of colleagues, the EXCEL Program was created. This next academic year will be the 23rd class of the program, and many of the students before them ended up doing great things in graduate school, including earning their Ph.D. or becoming entrepreneurs, police officers, funeral directors, teachers, multicultural advocates, human resource and safety specialists, correction officers, nurses, college professors, and so much more.
What’s something you’d like to tell the students and staff before you leave?
Thank you for allowing me to serve each of you and for allowing me to be part of your university experience.
Go forward and continue your outstanding work and live your dreams.
Always remember to Act Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly – Micah 6:8.
PICTURED: Cathy Mathweg with her sons, Michael (left) and Joseph.
PICTURED: Cathy Mathweg’s sons, Joseph (left) and Michael.
PICTURED: Cathy Mathweg with her sons, Joseph (left) and Michael (middle), their wives, and her husband, Tim.