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Recognize & Celebrate businesses & people

Great Living Cincinnatians: Honorees

Celebrating the leadership, vision, tenacity, and love of community shared by the recipients of the Great Living Cincinnatian Award, presented annually by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber since 1967.

Sister Rose Ann Fleming, SND de N

Awarded In 2019

The Ohio River has always had a peaceful, prayerful effect on Sister Rose Ann Fleming, S.N.D., de N. For many years, she held onto that feeling to make some important life decisions, including the one to move back to her hometown of Cincinnati more than 35 years ago.

Sister Fleming, who earned her bachelor’s degree at the College of Mount St. Joseph, served as the superintendent of Summit Country Day in Cincinnati and president of Trinity College in Washington, D.C. before heading back to Cincinnati.

“I really felt that my father needed me in Cincinnati, and so I came back. I did not foresee the possibility of working at Xavier University, especially with the student athletes, but looking back I have learned how important it is to trust God in the direction our lives take us,” said Sister Fleming. “God knows the work he wants us to do, often much better than we do.”

Sister joined the Xavier faculty and began working in the academic advising office, with a focus on student athletes. It was a decision that would open up her world in a way she never expected. Sister became the primary adviser to Xavier’s men’s basketball program. Since 1986, Xavier has graduated every senior men’s basketball player. That’s 109 straight and still counting. Xavier, a member of the Big East Conference, is consistently one of the top 15 schools in the nation when it comes to overall student-athlete graduation success rate.

In 2011, Sister became a special assistant to Xavier University President Fr. Michael Graham, S.J. Part of her role is to ensure that future student athletes at Xavier have ongoing access to academic support. That support comes via the Sr. Rose Ann Fleming Endowment for Student Athlete Academic Success and the Kevin and Georgette Crawford Student-Athlete Academic Center. Sister also initiated a faculty mentor program for each one of the 18 Division I athletic teams at the University. Sister also serves as the NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative for Xavier and still travels with the men’s basketball team.

In 2014, along with local author Laura Pulfer, Sister wrote a book about her work, titled “Out of Habit, My Life as Xavier University’s Unlikely Point Guard.” The title in part comes from former Xavier Head Coach Pete Gillen, who named Sister the team’s most valuable player in 1991.

Sister Fleming’s many honors include being named a Cincinnati Enquirer “Woman of the Year” in 1992 and in 2000, she was inducted into the Xavier University Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2014, the University retired her jersey, which now hangs in the Cintas Center next to greats like the NBA’s David West. It’s the same year her commemorative bobble head came out and she was featured on the Today Show.

Sister has served on a variety of local boards including the Cincinnati Friars Club, Cincinnati Union Bethel, and the Volunteer Lawyers Project.  She is currently involved with two nonprofit organizations – Partners in Action, which supports many projects for the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and Casa de Paz, which helps Latina women who have suffered domestic abuse find housing, education and documentation.

In addition to her undergraduate degree from Mount St. Joe, Sister Fleming has a law degree, MBA and a Ph.D. in educational administration.

Sister Fleming draws inspiration from Robert K. Greenleaf, author of Servant Leadership, to define success. “Did I help anyone today? If you did, you were successful. I have always been inspired by that definition.”

She enjoys spending her vacation time near the ocean or in the mountains, either running on sandy beaches or climbing trails in the mountains. She also enjoys traveling, cooking and caring for cats and dogs, and more than anything, watching Xavier basketball.

Nominate a Great Living Cincinnatian

Recipients are selected from candidates by the Cincinnati Chamber’s senior council based on the following criteria: – Community service – Business and civic attainment on a local, state and national or international level – Leadership – Awareness of the needs of others – Distinctive accomplishments that have brought favorable attention to their community, institution or organization