As a child, Dr. Christine Pharr was always the teacher when playing school and always the priest when playing mass. Recently named Mount Mary University’s twelfth president, she is taking on a slightly different leadership role than the ones she assigned herself in make-believe childhood games with her sisters and friends.
Pharr will begin her duties as president in July 2017. She currently serves as the vice president of alumnae and donor relations at the College of Saint Mary, a women’s college in Omaha, Nebraska.
“Even back then I was a bold (and perhaps bossy) woman,” Pharr said. “Today I am much more collaborative and fair, and amazingly my sisters still love me, and I have many continuing friendships from childhood.”
Pharr has always had a love for science and math, even while she was growing up. When she was 10 years old, she asked for a chemistry set for Christmas. She received a biology set instead. After overcoming her disappointment, she discovered it had some interesting items.
“It had a small microscope and some brine shrimp I could look at under the microscope, but my favorite things were these solutions that, when you added them together, changed from clear to purple and back again,” Pharr said. “They called it changing water to wine and back again. How biblical! I thought that was miraculous!”
Pharr later discovered the science behind it, but in the meantime the magic was fun.
When Pharr first arrived on campus she thought it was beautiful – majestic even. Pharr described Mount Mary as a place where you immediately know it’s special. She is eager to start her time here.
“I’m most excited because of the people,” Pharr said. “Everybody I met, students, faculty, administration, alumnae, resonated with the mission of the institution. When that many people think, ‘This is a great place,’ it’s got to be. I am excited to be a part of that.”
Pharr has two daughters whom she credits for helping her to see herself in a different way.
“As they grew up and became individuals in their own right I began to see my influence on them, both good and bad,” Pharr said. “Both of my daughters are extremely hard-working, but they think I’m sort of a workaholic. I love to work but at times I can overdo it.”
One of her daughters is a talented vocalist, and Pharr has enjoyed accompanying her on her musical journeys. It’s taught her to realize that music is something very special to her and has “shaped her soul.”
Pharr treasures her family, and with age she’s only learned to appreciate them more.
“I have been so blessed to have these wonderful bold women as daughters, to have three bold women as sisters and also a fantastic husband,” Pharr said. “This has made me realize – in a way that I never did as a younger women – that these people are a gift from God and I thank God every day for all of them.”
If Pharr won the lottery, she’d first get a good financial adviser, and then give back to those in need. But she doesn’t need millions of dollars, she said.
“In a lot of ways, I’ve already won the lottery,” Pharr said.