Ursuline News

Lydia Haggar Novakov '68 Receives Ursuline's 2023 President's Award

Ursuline's President's Circle Dinner on April 26, discussed the Strategic Roadmap Progress Report. In 2017-2018, Ursuline set a future course in the form of a Strategic Roadmap. Now, over five years later, what a journey it has been! Read the Strategic Roadmap Progress Report in LOGOS 2023. 

President Gretchen Kane also presented Lydia Haggar Novakov '68 with the 2023 President's Award. Read Lydia's remarks below:

"Thank you, Gretchen, for your very kind words. I am humbled, and deeply honored to receive the President’s Award, especially from you, whom I hold in the highest regard. Please know just how much we appreciate what you do and have done for Ursuline Academy.

I would like to recognize family members here with me this evening - my sister, Marian and her husband George, and my brother, Joe; my Vaughan cousins, Marty and Vicki; and Vicki’s husband, Brian. And I especially thank my husband, Dan; our daughter Isabell and her husband, Trey; and our son Daniel and his wife, Sarah, for their love and support.

After my parents and their gift of faith to me, Ursuline and the Ursuline Sisters truly shaped my life.

My grandmother was a St. Louis Ursuline girl. Once she settled in Dallas, she renewed her Ursuline ties.

That relationship blessed us with a cherished and multi-generational friendship with our beloved Mother Emmanuel Shea. And it is with Mother Emmanuel that my Ursuline story begins!

In my day there was no pre-school; you simply started kindergarten at age five. So, my first time inside a classroom was with Mother Emmanuel in Merici Hall. We adored her, and she opened our eyes to the joy of learning. Yet, beyond the pencils, crayons and books, Mother Emmanuel and the Ursulines taught us, even at our young age, one of life’s most foundational lessons – that God loves us all, and each of us was created with inherent value and distinct purpose.

Let me elaborate ... One of our classmates had developmental disabilities.

Mother Emmanuel embraced and welcomed her into our nurturing environment, which was not a common practice at that time. Every day, Mother Emmanuel worked lovingly with each one of us.

In our little classroom, witnessing Mother Emmanuel and Ursuline doing what was “right,” taught us by example to do the same then, and outside the schoolhouse always - to treat everyone with dignity and respect. This was a profound life lesson learned back then, and it is a lesson that has never left my heart.

From those compassionate moments, so many years ago, to this day, I see in my mind’s eye our precious kindergarten class, laughing, playing and learning together, with no labels or barriers.

From kindergarten on, my long relationship with Ursuline Academy has been multi-faceted. Literally and figuratively, I have grown up at Ursuline. My Ursuline education and the experiences have provided my path forward. And at the crux of it all is our Serviam creed - I will serve.

Sister Mary Troy, as my high school principal knows me all too well – So I must confess that at age 14, Serviam was a bit of an “acquired taste.”

Thankfully the Ursulines were patient with our teenage antics, and like Mother Emmanuel, led by their example! As they say, “Actions speak louder than words.”

And over time, Serviam became a part of us as Ursuline students - Our call to serve and our compass. Now, if you look around this community and beyond, you will see Ursuline alumnae serving, and making a difference everywhere.

While it’s been almost 70 years since my first day at Ursuline, and the school will soon celebrate its 150th anniversary, I am grateful Ursuline has stayed true to its mission - the education of girls – their minds, hearts and souls.

Think back to the world in 1874. What incredible foresight the Ursulines had- to value girls’ education in a time when it was largely ignored.

We are blessed with St. Angela’s vision, and the dedication of the Ursuline Sisters who have followed her and have remained champions of girls’ education.

As such Ursuline has been a force for change in the lives of its students, and in our society, by leading the way in academic excellence; by pioneering and supporting the role of women; and instilling the confidence in us to think critically, to speak up, to find our strengths and to lead.

My thanks to each of you here tonight for your most generous support of Ursuline, and for your Serviam spirit. Both keep our school at the forefront of educational institutions across this nation and worldwide.

And I trust that whatever your Ursuline association may be, we all wear our Ursuline badge with the greatest pride.

In conclusion, I’d like to sum up by saying- I do believe that 'All we really need to know we learned in kindergarten,' especially if you were one of Mother Emmanuel’s little girls.

Thank you."

Watch Lydia's Remarks.

View the 2023 President's Circle Dinner Photo Album.