Three years later she did the same at the Mount Saint Joseph Academy. While at the academy, Sister Mary Diane also taught art at Brescia College, the start of a 40-year association with that school.
Sister Mary Diane left the academy three years later to become chair of Brescia’s fine arts department and the school’s area coordinator of art. She held both positions until 1986 when a lay person took over as area coordinator of art, leaving her as chair of the division of fine arts, a position she still holds today.
During her long tenure as chair of the division of fine arts, Sister Mary Diane has earned the respect and admiration of many.
Art department professor David Stratton says, “Sister Diane brings lots of things to the university and campus environment. Her design and color expertise has been utilized by the university administration and facilities many times over her 40 years here. She is diligent and detail oriented. Her finesse with a project, either in her personal artwork or in managing people, is to adhere to the goal with particular regard to details and how they make the whole better.”
Stratton continues, “She brings the department a sense of stained glass, tapestry, art history, and printmaking, to make the above mentioned “whole” better. She also brings a practical sense to the art department, a group of artists who at times might not be. Working with Sr. Diane is not work.”
Stephen Driver, also an art department professor, says, “Over the last 13 years I have grown as a teacher and person in small part due to working with Sister Diane. She is also the snappiest dressed in the art department!”
Sister Mary Diane has spent almost four decades at Brescia, seeing it change from Brescia College to Brescia University. What are the biggest changes she’s seen?
Without hesitation, she answers, “One of the biggest would be the recent change in presidency, the first non-Ursuline president.” She was referring to Father Larry Hostetter, a former member of the Brescia faculty who was named the school president May 18. “I have been impressed by Father Larry,” Sister Mary Diane continues, “impressed by his enthusiasm, his work ethic…he’s done a good job.”
Father Larry also has words of praise for the head of his fine arts department. “Sister Diane truly embodies the Brescia difference,” he says. “She has a deep respect for her students which is translated in the deep care and concern she has for them. She also helps them to discover their potential and gives them the confidence to bring that potential to full realization. She’s a Brescia gem.”
Sister Mary Diane says another big change is in the students themselves. She says, “They have changed so much. It used to be you’d come up to the art department at night or on weekends and the place would be crawling with students working outside of class studies. Today it’s rare to see one or maybe two up here.” She added, “I think the reason for that has a whole lot to do with the culture we’re living in. Forty years ago everybody didn’t have to own a current automobile, the latest, finest. They didn’t have to have every electronic device that’s ever been created. Things were simpler, tuition wasn’t as high, they didn’t have to work to make a living.”
Are today’s kids smarter than their predecessors? “I don’t think there’s any major difference in their intelligence,” says Sister Mary Diane. “Maybe there’s a difference in how they use it, but they’re not as focused generally. There are exceptions, of course.”
In recent years, Sister Mary Diane has added stained glass work to her repertoire. One of her stained glass creations is the Eucharistic chapel window at Precious Blood Church in her home parish. In addition to the window, Sister Mary Diane played a key role in the recent renovation of the church. Precious Blood pastor Father Brad Whistle says, “Sister Mary Diane was very instrumental in working on the art and environment committee of the renovation. This involved choosing color schemes and furnishings in the church. She also helped with designing and development of the wall hanging and the Stations of the Cross.” Father Brad says Sister Mary Diane’s professional expertise and career at Brescia University in the art department she was extremely helpful to him in the renovation. He adds, “I am not a very artsy kind of person. Therefore, I had to rely upon someone, and that person for me was Sister Mary Diane.”
Sister Mary Diane is a department head and teaching fulltime at an age when most people are retired and have been retired for a number of years. Are there any plans for retirement in her future?
She says, “The only plans that I have depend on God’s plans for me. Because as long as my health holds up and I don’t have any reason to feel that I’m not useful, I’ll keep on.”