Sheedy Teaching Award

The Sheedy Excellence in Teaching Award is presented annually to an outstanding teacher in the College of Arts and Letters.

The Sheedy award was founded in 1970 in honor of Rev. Charles E. Sheedy, C.S.C., who served as dean of the College from 1951–69, and acknowledges a faculty member who has sustained excellence in research and instruction over a wide range of courses. This individual must also motivate and enrich students using innovative and creative teaching methods and influence teaching and learning within the department, College, and University.

John Sitter, 2014 Sheedy Award winner

2014 Award Recipient

Professor John Sitter
The Mary Lee Duda Professor of Literature
Department of English

“In a time of global environmental emergency, the liberal arts must provide education for citizenship on a planetary scale or slowly become a set of museum exhibits. We know we have entered a new educational era when a noted environmental philosopher, Holmes Rolston, counsels us to ‘become wiser than Socrates’ and another, Dale Jamieson, wonders ‘whether morality has more than met its match in the Anthropocene.’

“Rolston means that contemporary ethics needs to include environmental as well as interpersonal relations, and Jamieson means that the traditional moral principles fitted for a world of proximate interactions may not be enough to guide us as global citizens.”

Read more of his acceptance speech >
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Read more about John Sitter >
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Julia Douthwaite, 2013 Sheedy Award winner

2013 Award Recipient

Professor Julia Douthwaite
Department of Romance Languages and Literatures

Douthwaite is known for her innovation within and outside the classroom. “I have been consistently impressed by Julia’s creativity and rigor,” says one colleague, “which have produced exceptionally important initiatives such as the DIGNITY project she brought to campus [in 2012].”

The DIGNITY project, which honored the tricentennial of Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s birth, included a series of guest lectures and a powerful photography exhibit on poverty and human rights in conjunction with Amnesty International. Douthwaite collaborated with several of her students to bring the exhibit to the Snite Museum of Art. She credits them for helping make the project a reality and says she has learned from their ebullience.

“That spirit of ‘Why not? Let’s try it!’ is inspiring,” she says. “We laughed together thinking we were going to do this—and then we did it. It was a wonderful experience.”

Watch the video >
Read more about Julia Douthwaite >
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Peter Holland

2012 Award Recipient

Professor Peter Holland
The McMeel Family Professor of Shakespeare Studies
Department of Film, Television, and Theatre

“Teaching ‘Shakespeare and’ as I usually do—Shakespeare and Film, Shakespeare and Performance, Shakespeare and Editing, for instance—is not the same as teaching some version of ‘Shakespeare’ tout court, something I’ve not yet done at Notre Dame. One of the series I’m involved in as a General Editor, is Oxford Shakespeare Topics, an Oxford University Press series, which I run with Stanley Wells, and currently stretching to 22 volumes, nearly all with titles in the form ‘Shakespeare and’ (and Text, and Masculinity, and the Drama of His Time, and Material Culture, and the Bible and so on), leavened with a few ‘Shakespeare in’s (in America, in Eastern Europe, in the 18th century). It seems to be the way my mind works and my discipline thinks but it involves a complex interrogation of the copula; as I try to make plain in my course on ‘Shakespeare and Film’, the ‘and’ in the middle is a really complex dynamic, not a simple linkage. How one might get from the one side of ‘and’ to the other is the crucial question, in either direction.”

Read more of his acceptance speech >
Watch the video >
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Thomas Noble

2011 Award Recipient

Professor Thomas F.X. Noble
Department of History

“For as long as I can remember, I have had a voracious curiosity. At some level, almost everything interests me. I believe that the capacity to be curious about a wide array of subjects has helped me to be curious about the different students I have encountered, to be open to them, to be interested in them. I have also found ways, more or less subtle depending on circumstances, to mix preparation and curiosity in such a way as to draw students into my world, my subject, my passions, my interests.”

Read more of his acceptance speech >
Faculty profile >


Jim Collins

2010 Award Recipient

Professor James Collins
Department of Film, Television, and Theatre

“All of [my] teaching experiences gave me insights I would have never otherwise acquired if I hadn’t tried to enrich the conversations I have with my undergraduates. They made me a better teacher because, quite simply, I became a better learner. Being a student of teaching means you have to remain constantly open to how other teachers practice their crafts. One of the most important things I’ve learned about teaching is how to make what seems to be simple far more complicated than it might appear but also how to take what seems overwhelmingly complex and show how simple it can be if you ask the right questions.”

Read more of his acceptance speech >
Faculty profile >


Richard Pierce

2009 Award Recipient

Associate Professor Richard Pierce
Africana Studies

“It is so very easy to teach facts, formulas, and method, but it is so much more difficult to teach students to be creative. So often creativity is defined and marked by performance: a virtuoso musical performance, a new twist to an old painting style, or an athlete who brings beauty to an old form. But academics can also be creative. It’s the marriage of knowledge, insight, and courage.”

Read more of his acceptance speech >
Faculty profile >



To view a list of additional former recipients of the Sheedy Excellence in Teaching Award as well as a selection of past acceptance speeches, visit the Award Recipients page.

Arts and Letters News

  • Turner, Berends, and Cheng Named to Lead American Educational Research Journal

    Julianne Turner

    Julie Turner, associate professor of psychology and fellow of the Institute for Educational Initiatives, has been named the new lead editor of the American Educational Research Association’s (AERAAmerican Educational Research Journal. Two other institute fellows—Mark Berends, distinguished sociologist of education and director of the Center for Research on Educational Opportunity (CREO), and Alison Cheng, associate professor of psychology—will work with Turner as a co-editor and an associate editor, respectively. Read More >

  • Notre Dame Sociologists Receive Grant to Research Indiana School Choice

    Megan Andrew

    New research at the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Research on Educational Opportunity will focus on the implications of Indiana’s school choice laws on students’ friendships and achievements. Notre Dame sociologists Megan Andrew and Jennifer Flashman have received a $600,000 grant from the W.T. Grant Foundation and a $50,000 grant from the Spencer Foundation. They will collect and evaluate new data about middle school students in Indiana, which is known for its robust school choice programs. Read More >

  • Anthropologist Meredith Chesson Awarded NEH Grant

    Anthropologist Meredith Chesson in the field

    Meredith Chesson, an associate professor in Notre Dame’s Department of Anthropology, has been awarded a three-year grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to continue fieldwork in Italy’s Bova Marina region. Her project—examining how human landscapes of the Mediterranean have changed over millennia—is an outgrowth of 18 years of research by the Bova Marina Archaeological Project (BMAP). The project is co-directed by Chesson, John Robb of the University of Cambridge, and Lin Foxhall of the University of Leicester, working under the auspices of the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici della Calabria. Read More >

  • Anthropologist Focuses on Cultural Poetics

    Alex Chavez

    Furiously strumming his jarana into the early morning hours of a stranger’s backyard birthday party in Austin, Texas, Alex Chavez was having fun with the hired musicians who had brought him along as an impromptu guest. He was also doing fieldwork. Chavez, who joined Notre Dame’s Department of Anthropology in 2014 as an assistant professor, studies “the aesthetic dimensions of contemporary lived politics”— sometimes referred to as cultural poetics. He focuses on the unfolding of this expressive grammar among Latino migrant communities in the United States. Read More >