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.

Robert Sedlack

2015 Award Recipient

Professor Robert Sedlack
Department of Art, Art History & Design

Sedlack ’89 focuses his research and teaching on how design can have a life-changing impact when used in collaboration with organizations dedicated to social betterment. He gravitates toward projects that rely on graphic design to help inform and educate the public on social and cultural issues around the world.

“Robert tells his students that the job of a designer is to improve lives,” said Brandon Keelean ’13. “He says that design turns an existing situation into a preferred situation, and he reminds them—as he constantly reminded me—that people have powerful stories to tell if you only listen.”

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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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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.”

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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 >
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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.”

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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 >
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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 >
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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

  • Two Romance Languages and Literatures Graduates Receive Fulbright Awards to Study Global Nutrition

    Christina Gutierrez and Claire Donovan icon

    Two recent Notre Dame graduates are tackling global health issues with support from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. French and Francophone studies major Claire Donovan will work with UNICEF in Togo to examine women’s adherence to micronutrient supplement programs. Christina Gutierrez, who majored in Romance languages and literatures and political science, will pursue a master’s degree at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy and conduct research on and pilot a food co-op concept there. Read More >

  • Theatre Alumnus Jack Blakey Appointed to Federal Judgeship

    U

    When Jack Blakey was studying theatre at Notre Dame in the 1980s, he never dreamed he would one day be hearing legal disputes on the federal bench. But his liberal arts courses were preparing him for it nonetheless. Blakey was formally installed this spring as a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, following his nomination by President Barack Obama and confirmation by the U.S. Senate last year. Read More >

  • LEO Receives $435,000 NIH Grant to Study Impact of Community College Intervention Program

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  • Researchers in New Notre Dame Center Awarded $3.1 Million Grant to Study Virtues in Science

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    A team of researchers in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters has been awarded a $3.1 million grant from the Templeton Religion Trust to examine how the concrete practices of science relate to something more abstract—what theologians and philosophers consider “virtues”—and how that connects with other areas of scientists’ lives, including their religious beliefs. The endeavor is a key component of Notre Dame’s new Center for Theology, Science, and Human Flourishing, which will serve as a hub for transdisciplinary research at the University. Read More >