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Mother Mary Aidan Cliggett, SHCJ

Black and white portrait of Mother Mary Aiden Cliggett

6th President of Rosemont College 1957 - 1962

Mother Mary Aidan, known as Rita Cliggett before entering the Society, was born in 1914 in Philadelphia, where she attended its schools. She earned her BS from Villanova College and an MA from Catholic University. In the ten years preceding her appointment as Rosemont’s sixth President, she held various executive positions within the Society. Mother Aidan was Principal at St. Edwards in Philadelphia for many years. Before coming to Rosemont, she had been in Washington, D.C. where, as Superior, she had the task of opening a new SHCJ school.

During her five years as President, Mother Mary Aidan extended the college’s curriculum. She was a fine educator, stretching the students to search for excellence. In her first speech to students and faculty, Mother Aidan focused on the great potential power of womanhood. As reported in The Rambler, dated May 24, 1962: “...Curricular innovations included the introduction of Russian; the formation of a separate classics department; the shift in the elementary education from a major to a minor to allow a greater liberal arts emphasis; programs of independent study; and additional offerings in philosophy and theology...”

In 1962, La Salle College awarded Mother Aidan an Honorary Doctorate of Pedagogy at their Commencement, at which time they recognized the contribution of Presidents of Catholic women’s colleges to Catholic education.

During her administration, three new buildings rose on campus: Cardinal, Kaul, and Alumnae Halls. No less important, Mother Mary Aidan was especially competent in working with the Board of Trustees, and benefactors of the college.

Mother Mary Aidan Cliggett left Rosemont in 1962. She went to Fribourg, Switzerland for a year’s study in Theology. This was followed by assignments in SHCJ schools in California, New York and Maryland. From 1977 to 1983, Sister Cliggett was an assistant director and principal at the Overbrook School for the Blind in Philadelphia.

Sister Rita Cliggett died June 17, 2003 at the age of 89 at New Sharon in Rosemont, having lived in the infirmary the last ten years of her remarkable life.