Sister M. Olivia Gowan, O.S.B., founder of Nursing at Catholic University, died April 2 in Duluth, Minn. She was 89.

Sister Olivia was a student of sociology at Catholic University in 1932, when she was asked to become director of a division of nursing education.

It was elevated to the status of a school three years later and she became its dean. Under her leadership the school attained national recognition. She retired in 1957.

Sister Olivia was a member of the Association of Collegiate Nursing, which she served as president from 1940 to 1944. She also had been president of the D.C. League for Nursing.

She had served on the board of directors of the National League of Nursing Education, of the National Council of Catholic Nurses and of the National Nursing Council for War Service.

The American Red Cross cited Sister Olivia for service during World War II, when she was an advisor and consultant to medically related divisions of the Navy Department and the Veterans Administration.

In 1947, she was honored in American Women in Nursing as one of the 10 outstanding American women representative of the nursing profession. Catholic University honored her with an honorary degree of doctor of education.

Born in Stillwater, Minn., and a member of the Benedictine Sisters, of Duluth, she graduated from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth and held a master's degree from Teachers College in Columbia University.