Sister Marylouise Fennell was a Sister of Mercy for 65 years. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in education from the Diocesan Sisters College (1961), a Master of Arts in counselor education and a certificate of advanced graduate studies from the University of Hartford (1970 and 1973), and a doctorate in education from Boston University (1976). (While living in Boston, she became a lifelong Red Sox fan.) She enhanced her degrees with post-doctoral training in management at Harvard University and in family counseling at the University of Connecticut, the Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital, and the Institute of Psychotherapies.
Educated by the Sisters of Mercy at Sacred Heart School in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Our Lady of Mercy Academy, Lauralton Hall, in Milford, Connecticut, Marylouise entered the community after her high school graduation. As a Mercy sister, she embarked on an innovative educational career that focused on turning students into self-directed lifelong learners that recognized the value and integrity of each person. These principles became hallmarks of Sister Marylouise’s life as a teacher, administrator, mentor, board member, and consultant.
As Carlow University president (1982-1988), she opened doors to opportunities for many students, especially women, by helping them believe in themselves, meet new challenges, and serve others. As a partner in Hyatt-Fennel Executive Search, she helped numerous colleges, universities, and associations further their mission by identifying candidates who would render competent and compassionate service as leaders.
Sister Marylouise became known for her efforts to link Central American universities and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in the United States with other American higher education institutions. This work yielded countless opportunities for mutually beneficial cross-cultural relationships and made her a pioneer in multicultural and intercultural higher education. Her travels brought her to over 20 countries, where she often provided pro bono services as an educator and consultant. In response to these accomplishments, Sister Marylouise said, “I don’t think I have done anything in my whole life in education that I’ve been so proud of.” She received over 40 honorary degrees and numerous leadership and management consultant awards. She also advised for-profit businesses that serve nonprofit organizations. Widely known as a good listener who gave commonsense advice (sometimes with a dose of Irish humor), Sister Marylouise cherished her relationships with the Sisters of Mercy, her close-knit family, and a legion of friends from all walks of life.