Dr. Pauline Lambert, first woman senior administrator at St. Thomas, dies at 67
Dr. Pauline Lambert, who in 1976 became the first woman to hold a senior administrative post at the then-College of St. Thomas, died Tuesday, Aug. 19, at the Sholom Home in St. Paul. She had been undergoing treatment for a brain tumor over the past year.
Visitation will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 24, at Wulff Godbout Funeral Home, 560 W. Seventh St., St. Paul, and from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 25, at St. Olaf Catholic Church, 215 S. Eighth St., Minneapolis. A Mass of Christian Burial follows at 6 p.m. at St. Olaf. A private burial will take place Tuesday, Aug. 26, at Roselawn Cemetery in Roseville.
Over 21 years in a variety of administrative positions at St. Thomas, Lambert endeared herself to the university community – especially those women administrators, faculty and students who followed her. For them she was a valued mentor and adviser. She retired in 1997 as executive assistant to the president.
"The University of St. Thomas has lost one of its truly remarkable personalities," said the Rev. Dennis Dease, president of St. Thomas. "A highly competent, deeply principled and wonderfully upbeat individual, whose hearty laugh could be heard up and down the corridors of the university’s administration building, and whose affable and diplomatic ways of dealing with people and problems will not soon be forgotten, Pauline Lambert brought geniality to the workplace. She will be greatly missed."
Born in Minneapolis on Dec. 23, 1935, Lambert attended Resurrection Elementary School in her hometown and St. Clara Academy in Sinsinawa, Wis., before attending Rosary College in River Forest, Ill. There she earned a bachelor of arts degree in French in 1962.
She studied at L’Institut Catholique in Paris before returning to the United States as a visiting instructor at Rosary College and as a faculty member at Edgewood College in Madison, Wis., from 1969 to 1974. She received her doctorate in French literature from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland in 1973, and the following year she became coordinator of senior citizens’ programs at St. Albert the Great Catholic Church in Minneapolis.
Her appointment as assistant academic dean at St. Thomas in 1976 was notable because it marked the first time a woman had been hired as a senior administrator; at that time, St. Thomas was a men’s college and would begin to admit women a year later.
In the next 21 years, Lambert worked for 13 years as assistant or associate academic dean, one as assistant to the provost, one as associate vice president for academic affairs and the last six as executive assistant to the president. She served on or chaired dozens of committees, including those that established the university’s Luann Dummer Center for Women, planned centennial and coeducation celebrations, and examined critical issues such as curriculum development and the campus climate for women and people of color.
She was active in numerous professional organizations, including the National Association of Academic Affairs Administrators, the American Association of Higher Education, the National Academic Advising Association, the American Association of University Women, the American Association of Teachers of French, and the Minnesota Council on the teaching of Foreign Languages.
She received an award from the Minnesota Women in Higher Education in 1992 for her contributions to women’s education at St. Thomas, and a Distinguished Service Award from St. Thomas in December 1997, when she retired.
Lambert and her husband, Dr. Merritt Nequette, former associate academic dean and longtime chair of the St. Thomas Music Department, were married in 1986; they lived in Roseville. Active in her parish, St. Olaf Catholic Church in downtown Minneapolis, Lambert authored In the Heart of the City, a history published on the occasion of the church’s 60th anniversary in 2001.
In addition to her husband, Lambert is survived by two sisters: Patricia Lambert of Point Arena, Calif., and JoAn Smith of LaCrosse, Wis.
Memorials are preferred to St. Olaf Social Outreach Program, the Sholom Community Alliance, or your favorite charity.