Her Story

Mrs. Eileen B. Lieben

Our Namesake

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 Ms. 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 & 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 Creighton 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 Unites 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 foundation.

As dropsy had limited the activities of Mary Lucretia, arthritis crippled Sarah Emily. Her friends would gather news of the needs of the poor and relay them to Sarah Emily. She would help when she could. She also took on special projects to fill the lonely days following the death of her loved ones. St. Joseph Hospital became a favorite charity, many of her larger gifts were directed toward Catholic churches.She took an active interest in Creighton University as well. On a visit to the school she noticed that the Jesuit living quarters were primitive. She met with her husband and the Rev. M.P. Dowling, S.J., president, and together arrived at $13,000 gift to construct the south wing of the Administration Building. She also donated, in memory of her parents, two of the altars in St. John?s College church. Sarah Emily also took a personal hand in works of charity. On some occasions when there was a death or illness in an Omaha household, Mrs. Creighton would quietly appear, express her sympathy and move about the house doing whatever needed to be done to get the house in order. Although, John Creighton brought numerous medical specialists to Omaha, Sarah Emily died of a respiratory ailment linked to her rheumatism 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. In her will she also bequeathed to Creighton University a business block, according to the same terms and conditions as were designated in the bequest of her sister, Mary Lucretia.

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. The award, formerly called the Mary Lucretia Creighton Award, has been renamed this year in honor of Mary Lucretia and Sarah Emily Creighton. Mary Lucretia Creighton executed her husband's bequest to found Creighton University; Sarah Emily was instrumental in the founding of Saint Joseph's Hospital.