Books always make for great conversation starters but they also formed lifelong bonds for a group of Canisius alumnae. Each month, these literary ladies meet in the Bouwhuis Library to confer and converse about pre-selected titles. It’s an intellectually rich tradition, which spans more than 60 years and embraces more than just novel matters.
"Our topics are not what you might call typical women's fluff," says Mary Ann Hoffert ’84, MSEd ’88, chair of the Alumnae Study Club. Topics range from stem cell research and cloning to African culture and the changing face of the priesthood. "The study club is comprised of well-educated and well-informed women who bring many different perspectives to the discussions. These are not passive women."
Rev. William J. McCurdy, S.J., helps bolster the narrative content. As moderator of the club, he encourages members to dig deeper into the topics and their implications. The group also hosts guest speakers on occasion. Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Maestro JoAnn Falletta HON ’00, and award-winning fiction writer and English Professor Mick Cochrane, PhD, are past participants.
The Alumnae Study Club originated out of the Canisius Alumnae Association, which was formed in 1922. Separate from the all-male Alumni Association, the organization gave women a distinct voice at Canisius. When the college merged the Alumnae and Alumni Associations into one in the 1990s, the late Lillian M. Levey MS ’67, HON ’03, PhD, dean of students at Canisius, felt it remained important for female graduates to maintain a separate perspective. With her encouragement, the Alumnae Study Club continued as an exclusive group for women at Canisius.
The club continues to thrive today and offers female graduates – of any age – an opportunity to bond over books and continue learning.
"Members of our group are stimulated by current information and expanding our knowledge is what keeps us together," Hoffert explains. "We can argue about a topic but never get personal. That is how we learn."