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Remembering Longtime Professor Esther Heffernan, O.P.

  • Tuesday, Nov 24, 2020

Madison, Wis. (November 24, 2020) – Edgewood College extends prayerful sympathy to family, friends, and colleagues as we remember longtime Professor Esther Heffernan, O.P., who died on November 20, 2020 at St. Dominic Villa, Hazel Green, Wisconsin. She served the students of Edgewood College from 1956 until her retirement in 2010. 

Sr. Heffernan was born on April 22, 1929. The daughter of educators, she enrolled at the University of Chicago at age sixteen, earning both an undergraduate and Master’s degree. After additional study at Rosary College (now Dominican University) and Creighton University, she earned her Ph.D. from Catholic University of America in 1964. 

Her career as a professor in Social Sciences extended well beyond the classroom. Her most notable publication was the book Making it in Prison: the Square, the Cool and the Life, which was based on her research with incarcerated women.  

“She taught generations of students in the Social Science Department, especially eager to work with those who would be heading into careers in Law and Law Enforcement or were already employed in the criminal justice system,” Cynthia Rolling, a longtime colleague, said. “She was able to build connections between the Social Science Department and local law enforcement and social service agencies to provide students with internship opportunities as a complement to their campus course work. Esther felt strongly that it was also important for students planning to become professionals in those fields to have a broad liberal arts education and a sense of the social and historical dynamics which have shaped the law and its enforcement.” 

Sr. Heffernan was given the Mazzuchelli Award in 1990 by the College. That award “honors those who cultivate intellectual and spiritual resources to empower others.” She was awarded an Honorary Degree from Edgewood College in 2003.###