Jane Werner, executive director of the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, was honored with the conferral of an honorary doctor of humane letters degree at the December Commencement of Saint Vincent College on Dec. 17.
Presenting the degree were the Very Rev. Earl J. Henry, O.S.B., prior of Saint Vincent Archabbey, and Br. Norman W. Hipps, O.S.B., president of Saint Vincent College.
The citation read as follows: It started with a thread and needle. “It was sew, press, rip, sew, rip, sew, press, wear,” as she once described her childhood passion for sewing, and it was this love that inspired her to view life in the same creative process. Those early childhood experiences – imagining, designing, constructing – guided her to reimagine the museum experience for children. Her simple question of “What do you want to make” inspired the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh to open MAKESHOP in 2011, a space she describes for children and families “to be curious, creative, collaborative, innovative and to learn persistence.” Why does she use such words? Because she focuses on outcomes, not actions. It is those outcomes that have a profound effect on children. She has created a nurturing atmosphere not only for children, but their families, schools and communities. The Museum welcomes more than 300,000 visitors on site each year; realizing the Pittsburgh population is approximately 300,000, puts this number into perspective. She has established partnerships with five child-centered organizations which are headquartered at and collaborate with the Museum. These include the University of Pittsburgh UPCLOSE program and the Pittsburgh Public Schools Head Start Program. As an Advisory Council member for the Fred Rogers Center at Saint Vincent College, she has been an invaluable resource, advocate and friend always lending her insight from serving thousands of children year after year and continually adapting to the community’s changing needs. It takes a visionary person to have such an impact on an institution, a city, and the lives of a generation of children ... a person with intelligence, creativity and leadership skills. We can spend an hour or more talking about all her awards and recognitions, but in her modesty, she would likely say “I just sew, create and alter.” Her work is truly that of a master tailor.
There is a reason it’s called the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, and the not the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum. She said it was important to put “children” first. She meant that literally and figuratively. For always putting children first, Saint Vincent College proudly confers upon you, JANE WERNER, The Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters Honoris Causa, This Seventeenth Day of December, Two Thousand Sixteen.”
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Don Orlando, Director, Public Relations
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