WWHEL celebrates 20 years of service 1996 - 2018!

2008 Award Winner


Dr. Kathleen O’Brien, senior vice president for academic affairs at Alverno College in Milwaukee, has won the 2008 Outstanding Achievement Award presented by Wisconsin Women in Higher Education Leadership (WWHEL).

“Dr. O’Brien exemplifies the spirit of excellence that WWHEL strives to foster throughout higher education in Wisconsin,” said Kaylen Betzig, vice president for administrative services at Waukesha County Technical College and the outgoing WWHEL state president.

O’Brien’s nominators praised her professional guidance and commitment to the improvement of the lives of women through the transforming power of education, calling her a role model “who leads with courage and compassion, with intelligence and patience.” Her strong leadership extends into the greater Milwaukee community as well as into state, national, and international arenas. She played a key role in the “Status of Girls in Wisconsin” research project, which looked at virtually every aspect of the life of girls age 10 to 19 in our state, and also helped to develop Alverno’s diagnostic digital portfolio that has become the gold standard in higher education assessment.

O’Brien, a member of the School Sisters of St. Francis, received her bachelor’s degree from Alverno College, her master’s degree from Vanderbilt University, and her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.