Gannon Center Celebrating 25 years

An enduring legacy

In 2018, the Gannon Center for Women and Leadership celebrates 25 years of educating and empowering female leaders through leadership development, service, and scholarly research. Named in honor of Sister Ann Ida Gannon, BVM, former president of Mundelein College, the Center facilitates undergraduate scholarship, faculty research, and speaker series for the University community.

The Mundelein Connection

Mundelein College was founded in 1930 by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVMs) in response to a call by Cardinal George Mundelein for a Catholic women’s college in Chicago.

For the next 60 years, Mundelein College offered its students a comprehensive Catholic liberal arts education, enrolling students from many ethnic and socio-economic groups who were often the first females in their families to attend college. In 1991, Mundelein affiliated with neighboring Loyola University Chicago. Today, the legacy and records of Mundelein College are preserved by the Women and Leadership Archives, and the Gannon Center continues Mundelein’s tradition of educating and empowering female leaders.

Through the years

A brief history of the Gannon Center:


Mundelein College affiliates with Loyola University Chicago. Mundelein President Carolyn Farrell, BVM, guides efforts to create a center to keep the spirit and legacy of Mundelein alive.


The Gannon Center for Women and Leadership is created.


The Women and Leadership Archives (WLA) opens.


The newly renovated Piper Hall becomes the home of the Gannon Center and WLA.

“It is so heartening to see how these students have their minds and their career opportunities opened in a way that integrates social justice. We want them to be solution builders, not just raising awareness about an issue, but asking, ‘How are we going to address it?’”
— Janet Sisler (MUND '74, '82), Gannon Center director from 2010-2018

Signature programs

The Gannon Center is one of Loyola's centers of excellence, featuring a variety of programs focused on scholarship, research, and the promotion of social justice. Here are some of the Gannon Center's signature programs:

  • Baum Speaker Series, which discusses issues at the intersection of women and leadership, public policy, and social justice.
  • Faculty Fellows, which supports original research on women and leadership with the Gannon Center’s Women and Leadership Archives as the primary resource.
  • Gannon Scholars, an undergraduate leadership program that is characterized by leadership, research, and service.
  • Johnson Scholars, funding for juniors engaged in interdisciplinary research on women, leadership, and social justice.
  • Mallinckrodt Scholars, scholarships for undergraduate students participating in community service that fosters peace and justice.
  • Visiting Scholars, which provides an opportunity for professors from around the world to utilize the Gannon Center to engage in research on issues of concern to women and leadership.

Learn more about the additional work and programs of the Gannon Center here.


alumnae of the Gannon Scholars program since its inception


applicants in 2018 for the program's 10 available spots


current Gannon Scholars across Loyola's undergraduate population

A lasting impact

Former Gannon Scholars explain how the program influenced them at Loyola and beyond:

“As a first-generation college student, the Gannons were very formative in a time when I needed it most.”

–Adriana Gallardo (BA ’07), engagement reporter, ProPublica

“Being surrounded by such strong women helped me develop my leadership skills and a keen understanding of the difference that I can make.”

–Megan Bannon (BS ’06), head of cultural anthropology at Initiative, a global media agency

“Our experience united us as a group and empowered us to make a tangible difference.”

–Karen Semone (BA ’95), innovation director at cloud computing company Salesforce

$2 Million

in scholarship support has been provided to students since 1993 for research projects addressing social justice issues

Preserving history

Established in 1994, the Women and Leadership Archives (WLA) collects and preserves records of women and organizations that document women’s lives, roles, and contributions. Home to more than 124 collections that together contain thousands of documents and objects related to women’s activism and public service, social justice, women religious, and the arts, the WLA is part of the Gannon Center and Loyola Libraries and is a resource for students, faculty, and the general public.

From an Oscar to presidential campaign materials, here are seven of the most interesting objects in the WLA:

Photos by Lukas Keapproth; All images used with permission of the Women and Leadership Archives.

Who was Sister Ann Ida?

Sister Ann Ida Gannon, BVM, the namesake of the Gannon Center, is an iconic figure in the history of Mundelein College. She served as president of Mundelein for nearly 20 years, from 1957-1975. When she died in June 2018 at the age of 103, the Chicago Sun-Times described her tenure as president as one that “witness[ed] and welcome[ed] waves of cultural change, supporting students and nuns as they marched for civil rights in Selma or a living wage for farm workers.”

A longtime Chicago educator, Sister Ann Ida was a strong presence for Mundelein graduates, keeping them connected to their school even as it joined with Loyola. When Loyola launched a women and leadership center in 1993, it was only fitting that it bear the name Gannon, in honor of Sister Ann Ida’s contributions to both Mundelein College and the advancement of women’s education.

At the dedication for the Gannon Center, she said, “My life is a life of service. That’s what the sisters are all about.”

“This is a critical time for women’s leadership and women’s rights... I look to expand our commitment to social justice to include a global perspective and to continue the legacy that has supported the Gannon Center’s ability to provide scholarships and fellowships through financial growth.”
—Gabrielle Buckley (MUND ’78), Gannon Center director