Shirley Hilger '43

Shirley E. Hilger '43

1990 Distinguished Alumna Award for Service to Carroll

The name Shirley Hilger '43 is legendary at Carroll. To generations of alumni, Carroll was synonymous with Shirley Hilger. Miss Hilger joined Carroll’s admission staff in 1951 as a counselor. She became the dean of admissions in 1968 – then one of only two women in the country to hold that title in a coeducational college. She assumed the role of director of admissions in 1990. Her recruiting efforts were tremendous, and she played a key role in the growth and success of the Carroll student body. When she retired in 1984, she had personally recruited more than half of Carroll’s alumni. In her 33-year professional working tenure at Carroll, Shirley touched the lives of scores of alumni, and to this day many continue to share stories of how their Carroll experience was shaped and in some cases made possible by Shirley’s efforts.   

When Shirley touted the benefits of a Carroll education and experience to prospective students, she knew exactly what she was talking about. A native of Milwaukee, Shirley came to Carroll as a student with the common freshman major of “undecided.” She was rush chairman and treasurer of Theta Pi Delta, program chairman of Kappa Sigma Delta and a member of Pi Gamma Mu. She graduated in 1943 with a degree in sociology and psychology, and went on to work for eight years as a social worker in the Milwaukee public school system before her long tenure at Carroll. 

As part of Shirley’s legacy on the Carroll campus, the Shirley E. Hilger Scholarship is awarded annually in her name to assist students attending Carroll. This unique award recognizes students with outstanding academic achievement, in the top ten percent of their high school graduating class, and who also demonstrate financial need. 

While Carroll was the focus of much of her energy, Shirley enjoyed many interests. For more than 40 years, she and her dear friend and business partner Kittie Skelton owned and managed Waterfront Log Cabins Resort in Door County. Shirley loved being active and continued to water ski into her 70s. Hilger died in February 2010 at the age of 87, leaving the majority of her estate to Carroll to support future generation of students.

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