History

Our History

woman studying

The Lieben Center for Women exists for students as a primary resource through which Creighton University educates and inspires women to be strong and healthy. As such, we feel blessed for the legacy of these women in particular who are responsible in some way for the founding of Creighton University and the Center for Women. These are their stories…

Eileen B. Lieben

Born Jan. 23, 1916, in New York City, Eileen B. Lieben received her master’s degree from Creighton in 1962 and began her career in the Division of Student Services as Assistant Dean of Women. During her many years at Creighton, she also served as Associate Vice President of Student Services, Interim Vice President of Student Services and Dean of Women. At the time of her retirement in 1996, Lieben was assisting in University Relations with special events and projects.

The Center for Women was established at Creighton University in 1998 by students, faculty, and staff to respond to issues impacting women students. The center became the Eileen B. Lieben Center in February of 2003 to honor Lieben, her efforts and support for the advancement and empowerment of women at Creighton. She died on April 12, 2007 and was remembered by many for her poise and elegance and also as a champion for women during a time when women were grossly under-represented in education. Her dedication to women and to Creighton University makes her a continued source of inspiration.

Mary Lucretia and Sarah Emily Creighton

Sisters Mary Lucretia and Sarah Emily Wareham, from Dayton, Ohio, married Edward and John A. Creighton. Mary and Sarah Creighton were in a position to be the leading ladies of Omaha society, due to the influence of their husbands on Omaha, but never had any interest in social position. 

Mary Lucretia was known as an angel of mercy. Edward supplied her with $25 a day, a large sum in those days, to distribute to the poor. Living in the river bottoms, the poor were familiar with her carriage pulled by her horse, Billy. Often her help took the form of a household item rather than cash. When Edward Creighton died of a stroke in November 1874, Mary Lucretia used the fortune she had inherited from him in order to carry out his intention of establishing Creighton University, the first free Catholic college in United States. She suffered from edema, formerly known as dropsy, for quite a while and eventually died on January 23, 1876. But her will made a bequest, which in the settlement of the estate amounted to about $200,000, one-fourth of which was devoted to the grounds and building, the balance being reserved for the foundation.

As dropsy limited Mary Lucretia, arthritis crippled Sarah Emily. She took on special projects to fill the lonely days following the death of her loved ones. St. Joseph Hospital became a favorite charity, and many of her larger gifts were directed toward Catholic churches. She took an active and philanthropic interest in Creighton University as well. Sarah Emily also took a personal hand in works of charity, providing practical and emotional comfort to sick and dying members of the Omaha community. When Sarah Emily died on September 30, 1888, the poor lined the streets and wept when the funeral passed. There were 100 coaches in the funeral procession. In her will, she left $50,000 to build a new St. Joseph Hospital. Her husband added another $150,000 to make it a fitting tribute. It was to become the largest hospital west of the Mississippi. 

The Mary Lucretia and Sarah Emily Creighton Award is presented annually to an administrator, student, faculty or staff member who has created an environment supportive of achievement for women, who has encouraged women faculty, administrators, staff or students in the development and use of their talents, or who has served as a role model of accomplishment for women.