Provost McGreevy honors Arts & Letters faculty for excellence in research, teaching, advising, and social justice

Author: Kate Garry

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Faculty members in the College of Arts and Letters were recently honored for excellence by John T. McGreevy, the Charles and Jill Fischer Provost at the University of Notre Dame. The May awards were a part of a broader recognition of faculty members who achieved career milestones this spring.

The annual awards, which celebrate excellence in research, teaching, and other important work supporting Notre Dame’s academic mission, are coordinated by the Office of the Provost, with the exception of the Research Achievement Award and the Toohey Awards, which are presented by Notre Dame Research and the Office of Campus Ministry, respectively.

2022-23 recipients in the College are:

Reinhold Niebuhr Award Anton Juan, Department of Film, Television, and Theatre

The Reinhold Niebuhr Award is given to a faculty member or administrator whose body of academic work and life promote or exemplify the area of social justice in modern life.

Juan’s sustained commitment as a creative playwright, theater director, and filmmaker is marked by a passionate belief that art is a means to challenge inequality and advocate for social justice. His work speaks with, and on behalf of, marginalized individuals and communities, those in need, and spaces that are often ignored. From stage to film, he consistently calls out political, economic, and climate violence, elevates the voices of the poor and vulnerable across the planet, and shows a deep and profound commitment to social justice and Catholic social teaching. His life and body of academic work are a public witness of Christ’s invitation to love our neighbors as we are loved by God. 

Grenville Clark Award Jennifer Huynh, Department of American Studies

The Grenville Clark Award is given to a faculty member or administrator whose voluntary activities advance the cause of peace and human rights.

Huynh is an educator and researcher whose life inside and outside of the classroom work together for the common good. Her students benefit from her deep connections to the South Bend community, particularly as a board member with the Neighbor to Neighbor organization, which aims to support the resettlement of local refugees. Her work fostering the organization’s core value of intercultural friendships — focusing on connecting refugees and immigrants to people in the South Bend area to be community liaisons — is admirable. With state Rep. Maureen Bauer, she gathered evidence and data to advocate for the right to health care for asylum seekers and lawfully permanent residents in Indiana. She also volunteers, assisting with asylum refugee cases. Through her voluntary activities, research, and advocacy, the daughter of refugees advances the cause of peace and human rights in the South Bend community and beyond.

Research Achievement Award William Evans, Department of Economics

The Research Achievement Award honors a distinguished faculty member who has made significant contributions to scholarship in his or her discipline and to the research and graduate education goals of the University.

Evans has built an exceptional legacy of impact and influence. He has made significant contributions to the field of economics, particularly in the areas of labor, education, public finance, and health economics. He has advanced our understanding of a wide range of issues central to our everyday lives, including educational attainment, improved labor market outcomes, reduced health disparities, and the impact of policy. His citation count places him in the top 1% of living economists. He is a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research and a faculty fellow at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and the Institute for Educational Initiatives. Evans has been a builder at Notre Dame — helping to grow his relatively new department as chair and co-founding the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities, a research center focused on evidenced-based solutions to poverty. 

Rev. William A. Toohey, C.S.C., Award for PreachingRev. Michael Connors, C.S.C., Department of Theology

The Rev. William A. Toohey, C.S.C., Award for Preaching is given to a Holy Cross priest who has made significant contributions to the University of Notre Dame in many different ways, but in particular as a homilist.

Rev. Connors, C.S.C., serves as associate professor of the practice in the Department of Theology, director of the Marten Program in Homiletics and Liturgics, and as the priest-in-residence in Carroll Hall. While Fr. Mike richly deserves this award for his own articulate and deeply prayerful homilies, he also has enhanced the preaching of other priests, seminarians, and lay students at Notre Dame and in dioceses across the country. He has secured funding to develop a preaching academy, established a visiting fellowship to bring top professors of homiletics to teach and engage in research at Notre Dame, and organized biennial national preaching conferences. Throughout these wide-ranging efforts, Fr. Mike has remained faithful to his pastoral presence and thoughtful homilies for the men of Carroll Hall. 

Rev. William A. Toohey, C.S.C., Award for Social JusticeDaniel Graff, Department of History and Center for Social Concerns

The Rev. William A. Toohey, C.S.C., Award for Social Justice is given to a member of the Notre Dame faculty or staff who has dedicated himself or herself to teaching and research that emphasize the social justice dimension of the Gospel in an exemplary way.

Graff is the director of the Higgins Labor Program at Notre Dame and holds a joint appointment as professor of the practice in the Department of History. On campus and across the country, Graff illuminates the principle of the dignity of work in our Catholic social tradition. He has dedicated his career to encouraging the Notre Dame community to place the labor question at the center of all human endeavors. Projects such as the Labor Café, Lunchtime Labor RAPS, Higgins Friends and Alumni Network, and the Just Wage Working Group owe their existence to his initiative. His Just Wage Tool, utilized nationally and internationally, uses seven criteria to ensure any given wage fits within the Catholic social tradition framework. Graff has been described as a “voice for the voiceless” for his tireless commitment to labor and gender issues, and his particular respect for those on the periphery.

President’s AwardStephen Fallon, Program of Liberal Studies and Department of English

The President’s Award recognizes a member of the faculty and/or the administration for distinguished service to the University over an extended period of time.

Fallon is a renowned scholar of Milton, legendary teacher, and passionate advocate for social justice, and he has distinguished himself throughout his 38-year career at Notre Dame.He is a Guggenheim Fellow, has served twice as the president of the Milton Society of America, and has won numerous teaching awards. His Milton Among the Philosophers won the James Holly Hanford Award of the Milton Society of America for the most distinguished book on Milton in 1991, and he was named an Honored Scholar of the Milton Society of America in 2011. Fallon has twice served as chair of the Program of Liberal Studies and once as chair of the Department of English. He is a founding member of the faculty steering committee for the Moreau College Initiative, a program offering A.A. and B.A. degree programs at Indiana’s Westville Correctional Facility. He also is a co-founder of the South Bend Center for the Homeless/Program of Liberal Studies World Masterpieces Seminar. 

In addition, 10 of the 20 faculty members awarded the Rev. Edmund P. Joyce, C.S.C., Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching are affiliated with the College. The award is presented to faculty who have had a profound influence on the undergraduate learning experience, elevated students’ intellectual engagement, and fostered students’ ability to express themselves effectively within a disciplinary context.

Honored faculty members in the College of Arts and Letters are:

In addition, Maria McKenna, Professor of the Practice with a joint appointment in the Department of Africana Studies and the Education, Schooling, and Society program, and the director of the Transformational Leaders and AnBryce Scholars, was presented with a Dockweiler Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising. 

The Joyce and Dockweiler recipients are selected through a process that includes peer and student nominations. 

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Originally published by Kate Garry at May 23, 2023.