Rollins Remembers ‘Sister Kate’

Rollins College alumni, friends, and the campus community share memories of Sister Kate Gibney.

(Photo courtesy of Rollins College Archives & Special Collections) (Photo courtesy of Rollins College Archives & Special Collections)

Sister Kathleen “Kate” Gibney ’81MA, a former assistant dean at Rollins College who was also a Catholic nun, passed away on November 27 at the age of 89.

Leave a note of remembrance for Sister Kate.

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Sister Kathleen Gibney, “Sister Kate” as we all knew her, was truly the heart and soul of Rollins College all the years she served the institution. She began as a dormitory RA while doing graduate work in counseling. She soon joined the Campus Ministry team and then was appointed assistant dean of the College. None of those titles ever altered her first commitment—the care and welfare of Rollins students. She knew them all and they all knew her—and the love was truly mutual. During my years as president, I knew that Sister Kate was the very heart of the institution; the expression of what was best about the College and its students. And she cared about everyone.

Rollins continues its commitment to the welfare of the individual student as well as its engagement in community service, but those of us who remember Sister Kate know that she planted and nurtured the seeds of love and service. Her gifts and her memory will always be cherished by the institution she loved and which loved her back with unqualified admiration and unlimited affection.

Rest in peace, dear Sister Kate, surrounded by the love of generations of students, faculty, and staff here at Rollins College.

Thaddeus Seymour ’82HAL’90H
President Emeritus

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She saved lots of students in their academic careers, but she coddled no one. “Tough love” is what I remember most about her. She had a knack for getting students to take responsibility for their lives. I remember that students didn't enjoy having to go see Sister Kate, but down the line they liked the result. Academia would be better with more Sister Kates.

Edmund LeRoy
Professor Emeritus of Music

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Sister Kate was the voice of reason during difficult times. She was compassionate, funny, witty, and always willing to help. She was a great friend and I will really miss her. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends and The Rollins community that loved her so much.

Tim Coons ’76

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She was a great soul and friend that will never be forgotten.

Brian Crowley ’90

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She saved me from my own flawed vision of myself. The kick in the butt combined with deep compassion set me on a more positive path and inspires the work I do with my students today. Rest in peace Sister Kate.

Meghan Pierce ’87

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Sister Kate was one of my strongest and earliest mentors. She challenged me to volunteer for many leadership opportunities on campus and wouldn't take no for an answer. She was a beautiful and inspirational person and I've thought about her numerous times with gratitude since I graduated from Rollins.
 

Anne Kelley ’83

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I remember Sister Kate from all her work in campus ministry, with Dean Wettstein, John Langfitt and Father Sean Cooney. The interdenominational services they did were wonderful. I was honored that she asked me if I was interested in being an associate in her order.

But what stands out in my memory, is her work in the dean's office. She could eyeball a student's transcript and immediately see what courses and requirements were needed to graduate. When she retired and returned to her mother house in Massachusetts, it took 3 people (and a computer program) to replace her!

Susan Curran ’76
IT Programmer and College Lapidarian

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Fifteen years ago, an alum established a Rollins College scholarship fund in honor of Sister Kate to provide tuition assistance for deserving students. If you would like to contribute to the scholarship fund with a gift of any amount, please use the Rollins online giving portal and designate your gift to “The Sr. Kate Gibney Scholarship Fund” in the box provided. Contribute Now.