Sr. Kathleen Coughlin: A Lifetime of Service

June 3, 2022

Sr. Kathleen CoughlinOn May 23, UIW faculty members, leaders, administrators, staff and many University friends gathered in the Student Engagement Center to celebrate Sr. Kathleen Coughlin, CCVI, senior advisor to the president for Leadership Gifts & Sponsored Ministries, on her retirement after 20 years of service to the University.

“It is impossible to overstate how meaningful and how significant a contribution Sr. Kathleen has made since joining UIW in 2002,” said Dr. Thomas M. Evans, UIW president. “She has welcomed new friends and benefactors and has ushered in some of the most transformational gifts in our institution’s history, helping UIW grow and prosper. Sister also made education possible for so many students and because of that, she has changed their lives. We are extremely grateful for her presence, her leadership and all that she has brought to our community.”

Sr. Kathleen grew up in the suburbs of St. Louis before entering the congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio in 1960. Although she thought she would become a teacher, she was assigned to a role in healthcare instead. She earned her undergraduate degree in Nursing from Incarnate Word College and her master’s degree in Health Administration from St. Louis University.

Over the following three decades, Sr. Kathleen spent time as a director of nurses, hospital administrator, president/CEO of Spohn Health System, president of the Catholic Health Association of Texas and other leadership roles in the congregation. She retired from healthcare in 2000 and embarked on a second career, this time in the field of institutional advancement.

Sr. Kathleen joined the UIW family as vice president for Institutional Advancement in 2002. Eventually serving in her most recent role as senior advisor to the President for leadership Gifts and Sponsored Ministries, her areas of responsibility have included cultivating large gifts and acting as a liaison between UIW and all sponsored ministries of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word.

“I have been blessed in my career to be part of the two institutional ministries of our Sisters, namely healthcare and education,” Sr. Kathleen reflected. “Both of these ministries impact the lives of others as patients and students, but most of all, it’s our collaborators in Mission that make it come alive for all who come to us when they are sick or seeking an education. The privilege to be part of the workforce in both these ministries has been my gift all my life.”

During her time at UIW, Sr. Kathleen has been involved in numerous fundraising projects, including the finishing and opening of the AT&T Science Center, raising funds for the Feik School of Pharmacy, the renovation and rededication of the school of nursing to the Ila Faye Miller School of Nursing and Health Professions, the renovation of the former fine arts building, which became the Kelso Art Center, the Source of Life mural installation, Gayle and Tom Benson Stadium, the Luella Bennack Music Center, the Diane Bennack Concert Hall and the startup of the School of Osteopathic Medicine.

“It is impossible to overstate how meaningful and how significant a contribution Sr. Kathleen has made since joining UIW in 2002,” said Dr. Thomas M. Evans, UIW president.

Additionally, through Sr. Kathleen’s work, UIW’s annual gala, Swing-In is now in its 45th year, and has served as both a vital scholarship fundraiser and a beloved tradition.  In 2002, the event raised a net of $45,000. For the three years prior to COVID-19, the event netted nearly $400,000 per year.

It has been a challenge but an overwhelming joy to have been involved with UIW, our Mission, and to bring all these projects to fruition,” added Sr. Kathleen. “Mission was always at the forefront of what we were about, and all helped to enhance and impact our Mission through our work.

During Sr. Kathleen’s celebration, speakers shared favorite memories and stories of just how her work benefited students and the institution. While many expressed sadness at her departure, the overwhelming sentiment was one of gratitude.

“Sr. Kathleen personifies all that is good about the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word,” said Jack Lewis III, chairman of the UIW Board of Trustees. “She’s done so much for our University over the years, and though we are sorry to see her leave, we hope she has a wonderful and well-deserved retirement. I’d like to thank her for her years of service and dedication to UIW.”