Bollert, Mary Louise

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Bollert, Mary Louise

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Mary Louise Bollert was the first Dean of Women at the University of British Columbia. She arrived at UBC in 1921 in the new role of Advisor to Women and became Dean of Women in 1922, when her position was renamed. She remained at UBC as Dean of Women until her retirement in 1941. She also held the Assistant Professor of English position and was a member of the UBC Senate from 1933 to 1941. She is remembered for her fight to create proper resident accommodation for women and for creating a women's student loan fund to help women. She possessed a strong belief that educated women could work together to change society for the better. Mary Bollert Hall, at 6253 Northwest Marine Drive, built initially as a women's residence, is named after her.
Mary Bollert was born in Guelph, Ontario, to Malinda (née Bowers) Bollert and Ernest Robert Bollert. Mary Bollert had three younger sisters, L. Grace, Helen, and Florence. She attended high school in Guelph. Subsequently, she attended the University of Toronto, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Modern Languages.
There is confusion over the exact dates and titles of post-graduate degrees she obtained. However, she did receive a graduate degree at the University of Toronto, studied at the Ontario Normal College, and subsequently obtained an additional post-graduate degree from Columbia University in New York. During her time in New York, she held posts as Principal of Alma College in St. Thomas. In addition, she taught at Curtis High School, Horace Mann High School and Teacher's College, Columbia University.
After her time in New York, Mary Bollert returned to Canada and worked as Dean of Women and Professor of English at Regina College (likely from 1914 to 1917 though here, too, there remains confusion as to dates and her exact title). Before 1917, she began work in Toronto with the Robert Simpson Company as its Director of Education and Social Work. In 1917, she accepted the additional role of Superintendent of Sherbourne House, a private club for businesswomen and girls in Toronto. Her sister, Florence Bollert, began as Mary's secretary at Sherbourne House in 1917 and subsequently became Superintendent from 1921to 1946. During her time at UBC, Mary Bollert was involved with many organizations. In 1926 she was one of two women representing Canada at the Institute of Pacific Relations in Honolulu. She was a Canadian representative at conferences of the International Federation of University Women in Paris, Geneva, and Edinburgh. She was a speaker at the International Congress of Women in 1933. In 1934 she was selected to tour Japan as one of 12 women who held the position of Dean of Women at universities across North America. When she passed away in 1945, she was the International President of the Pan-Pacific Women's Association, a position she was first elected to in 1937.
Additionally, Mary Bollert was a charter member of the Soroptimist Club, Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Student Christian Movement, UBC, National President of the University Women's Club, Honorary Secretary of the Women's Canadian Club, Honorary Regent of the University Chapter of the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire, member of the Toronto University Alumni Association, member of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, as well as a member of St-Andrew's-Wesley United Church in Vancouver. The tradition of the time was at retirement; Deans were bestowed an Honourary Doctorate. All Deans were honoured in this way. However, Bollert never received an Honourary Doctorate.


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