Press Release

Saint Mary's College Announces 2009 Humanitas Award Recipient


Gwen O’Brien
Director of Media Relations
Saint Mary’s College
Notre Dame, Ind.
(574) 284-4579

May 27, 2009 (Notre Dame, Ind.)—The Humanitas Award, awarded annually by the Alumnae Association of Saint Mary’s College, recognizes an alumna who is outstanding in her personal and volunteer accomplishments and is recognized for her concern for the interests and welfare of her fellow human beings. She exemplifies the qualities of personal dedication, compassion, selflessness and sacrifice through social action, education, and reform within the community, the church and the world. The 2009 recipient is Rose-Marie “Rody” Oppenheim Dilenschneider ’54 for her lifetime of service and dedication to both children and adults in the field of literacy and for her commitment to the standards and ideals of the College. She will receive the award at the Reunion Banquet on Saturday, June 6 as part of Reunion Weekend, June 4-7.

Dilenschneider, of Columbus, Ohio, graduated from Saint Mary's College with a major in history and a minor in secondary education, which would serve her well as she devoted her life to teaching and literacy.

On September 11, 1954 she married her husband John and would later become the mother of ten. Soon after graduation, Dilenschneider began her teaching career in the Baltimore, Md. school system. In 1959, the couple and their family settled in Upper Arlington, Ohio. By then a mother of four, she began teaching Sunday school at St. Agatha Church in Upper Arlington. She taught religion for 25 years, becoming a Master Catechist certified by the Diocese of Columbus. She was an active member of the Parish Council and the first laywoman on the Diocesan Board of Education.

In the 1970s Dilenschneider became active in St. Thomas More Newman Center at The Ohio State University and noted a lack of religious education for the children of graduate students and professors at the university. She began a religious education program and that program remains in place today.

As Dilenschneider’s family grew, she noted that the summer programs in Upper Arlington addressed only athletics.  In 1968 she founded and directed the Junior Great Books Program which served over 600 children in the summers and was eventually brought into the elementary and middle schools. She remained involved in the program for 25 years.

In the 1980s, Dilenschneider embarked on the literacy movement. Certified by the Laubach Literacy Action (known today as ProLiteracy International), she worked as a tutor and as a trainer in basic literacy and English as a Second Language (ESL).
She designed, coordinated and taught an ESL program for the Upper Arlington School District for 16 years. In 1990 Laubach Literacy Action asked her to develop programs for trainers in the U.S and she became the organization’s training and certification chair. She would eventually develop and run workshops in 16 states and in three provinces in Canada. In addition, Dilenschneider both served on the Columbus Literacy Council Board of Directors and trained over 3,000 tutors.

Dilenschneider’s awards and recognitions include the Columbus Mayor’s Award for Volunteer Service (1986), the Woman of the Year by the Northwest Optimists (1988), the the J.C. Penny Community Leadership Award (1989), the Columbus Dispatch Service Award (1990), the Celebration of Learning Award from the Columbus Metropolitan Library (1997), the Laubach Literacy Action Outstanding Trainers Award (1999),  the Adult Literacy Service Award from the Ohio Literacy Network (2002) and the Time Warner Vision in America Award (2002).

If you are with the media and would like to arrange an interview, please contact Gwen O’Brien, director of media relations at Saint Mary's College.

About Saint Mary’s College: Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Ind., is a four-year, Catholic, women’s institution offering bachelor’s degrees in more than 30 major areas of study. The College has six nationally accredited academic programs: social work, art, music, teacher education, chemistry and nursing. Saint Mary's College ranks among the nation's top liberal arts colleges in U.S. News & World Report's 2009 annual survey. Founded in 1844, Saint Mary’s is a pioneer in the education of women, and is sponsored by the Sisters of the Holy Cross.