Irene Kraemer

“We don’t do ‘no’ here.” That was Irène Kraemer’s directive to her staff as dean of the School of Professional Studies.

The woman who once told a Kenosha News columnist that “life is too short to give up anything” empathized with adult students who balanced school, family, and career.


Carthage professor Irene Kraemer.“However we could help them attain their dream, she was on it,” says Professor Sandie Bisciglia ’94, who worked in the office before joining the faculty. “If you didn’t have that same work ethic, you heard about it.”

Colleagues marveled at Ms. Kraemer’s ability to develop innovative programs practically on command. Judith Schaumberg-Aigner, provost emerita, watched professional studies become a “cash cow” for the College under the dynamic leader.

Ms. Kraemer championed accelerated evening classes that shortened the path to a degree — just not in the sterile setting many schools were using.

“She didn’t want us in a storefront,” says Prof. Bisciglia. “She wanted students to have that college campus experience.”

The dean formed partnerships with technical colleges and businesses. A modern languages professor who drew on her native French, she even taught distance-learning classes via closed-circuit television in the pre-Internet days.

Few knew about the lengthy, private battle Ms. Kraemer fought with breast cancer. She died in 2004 at age 57.

Prof. Bisciglia and Brainard Writing Center director Jean Preston ’02, both graduates of Carthage’s adult programs, established the Irene Kraemer Starting Over Scholarship. It’s awarded annually to a woman who exemplifies the late dynamo’s spirit.

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