President Emerita Sister Elise Kriss to speak at USF Commencement

April 4, 2022

FORT WAYNE, Ind.—President Emerita Sister M. Elise Kriss, OSF, will be the featured speaker at the 2022 University of Saint Francis Commencement at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 7 at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.

Sister Elise served as USF President from 1993 to 2020, a position she took after serving the previous 10 years in other administrative roles. She retired on June 30, 2020 and took a sabbatical before returning to campus in her current position as Director of Community Engagement.

“We look forward with great anticipation to Sister Elise’s address to the Class of 2022, their families and the campus community,” USF President Rev. Dr. Eric Albert Zimmer said. “The impact of Sister Elise’s leadership and many contributions in representing and promoting the University cannot be overstated.”

Sister Elise holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Saint Francis College, which became the University of Saint Francis under her direction. She earned a doctorate from Saint Louis University.

During her tenure as USF President, she oversaw incredible growth as enrollment more than doubled and USF’s landscape increased in size and influence.

Sister Elise led the way in fundraising efforts which resulted in the construction and opening of many facilities, including Bishop D’Arcy Stadium, the Campus Ministry Center, Doermer Family Center for Health Science Education, the Mimi and Ian Rolland Art and Visual Communication Center, and Padua and Clare halls. Bonaventure Hall expanded to include the Pope John Paul II Center and the Lee and Jim Vann Library, and USF completed renovations to Brookside.

USF expanded in athletics, including the formation of the only college football program in Fort Wayne. The football program ranks as one of the most successful in the NAIA, winning national championships in 2016 and 2017. The Cougars have also won NAIA national championships in men’s and women’s basketball.

USF extended its reach and influence with its site at Crown Point, as well as academic outreach in Lafayette, Indianapolis and through the Virtual Campus. The USF Downtown location opened in 2016, housing the USF Robert Goldstine Performing Arts Center and the Music Technology Center. The USF Business Center downtown includes the Keith Busse School of Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership in the restored Chamber of Commerce building.

During Sister Elise’s last two years as president, the university built and opened the St. Francis Chapel, the first free-standing chapel in university history; renovated and expanded Achatz Hall of Science and the John and Toni Murray Research Center; and opened the Welcome Center in North Campus.

For more information on the USF Commencement, please contact Trina Herber, Coordinator for Academic Affairs, at 260-399-7700, ext. 6000 or

Founded in 1890 in the Catholic Franciscan tradition, the University of Saint Francis offers more than 60 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs through the College of Health Sciences; College of Arts, Sciences and Business; and College of Adult and Distance Education. In addition to its traditional programs, USF designs focused curricula for working adults in Fort Wayne, Crown Point and online. USF Downtown houses the university’s business and music technology programs while offering enhanced internship and networking opportunities for students. The University of Saint Francis, recognized as an NAIA Five-Star Champion of Character institution, has 18 athletic programs boasting two individual and four team NAIA national championships. Approximately 2,200 students from a broad geographic region attend USF.