Sister Deirdre Jordan

Principal 1954 – 1968

Deirdre Jordan came to St Aloysius College as a boarder from Loxton in February, 1939. She was twelve years old. An outstanding student, Deirdre went on to become dux of the school and head prefect in 1943. Deirdre received the holy habit on 6 October, 1946, was temporarily professed on 9 October, 1948, and finally professed on 6 October, 1951. Sr Deirdre (Sr Mary Campion Jordan) was appointed principal of SAC in 1954 when she was in her mid-twenties.

During Sr Deirdre’s principalship, heavy emphasis was placed on the education of members of staff, especially in the field of religious education. Teachers, both religious and lay, were given every opportunity to improve their qualifications and to become professional educators. Teaching nuns were given sabbaticals that allowed them the time in which to further their studies, sometimes in universities overseas.

A professional administrative structure was created at the school that gradually led to the separation of its leadership from the leadership of the convent.

The school embarked on an ambitious and innovative building programme that eventuated in the old image of the Convent of Mercy, Angas Street, giving way to that of St Aloysius College, Wakefield Street.

Sr Deirdre was a strong and influential lobbyist among the Independent Principals in South Australia and was critical to the subsequent changes made to the funding of Independent and Catholic schools.

Significant numbers of lay teachers were successfully absorbed into the teaching staff of the college, a trend that was to become increasingly more pronounced.

Sr Deirdre Jordan Principal
(Sr Deirdre Jordan, Principal, St Aloysius College Archives)
(Sr Deirdre Jordan, Chancellor Flinders University, 1991. St Aloysius College Archives)

First class facilities were introduced in many teaching areas. A business course was commenced, one that incorporated the idea of work placement or work experience, a notion completely new to Australia at that time, though commonplace today.

Under Sr Deirdre’s leadership, St Aloysius became a progressive school, and one that valued the independence of its students.

Following her resignation of the principalship in 1968, Sr Deirdre moved in the tertiary field with great success. She was appointed Chancellor of Flinders University in 1988 and on her retirement in 2002, was granted the title of Emeritus Chancellor. Though her achievements in that field have been considerable, she has always maintained a close relationship with the college that she served so well for so long.

Sr Deidre Jordan has many special achievements including:

  • First woman in Australia to complete a Masters in Education, University of Adelaide.
  • 1969 – Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to education.
  • 1989 – first woman in South Australia to receive Companion, General Division, Order of Australia, in recognition of her service to learning and to the community, especially the Aboriginal community.

By Neville Stapleton
Archivist, St Aloysius College, 2020