Graduate Student Mentorship Award

The Arts & Letters Graduate Student Mentorship Award, established by Dean Sarah Mustillo in 2022–23, is presented annually to one member of the tenured faculty in the College who has demonstrated outstanding scholarly mentorship of, and professional care for, doctoral or MFA students.

The ideal awardee has a strong and sustained record of extensive graduate mentorship, evidenced by uncommon student success (e.g., graduation rates, publications, and placements). They also have a consistent and extraordinary commitment to developing students as teachers and departmental citizens. To be eligible for nomination, individuals must have been on the faculty at Notre Dame for at least five consecutive years.

Inaugural Winner: Jean Porter

Jean Porter

Jean Porter, the John A. O'Brien Professor of Theology, has been awarded the 2023 Arts & Letters Graduate Student Mentorship Award. Porter is a moral theologian who studies the history of the Christian moral tradition and its contemporary relevance. She is universally regarded by faculty colleagues and students as a brilliant and effective teacher and mentor. She has supervised 28 doctoral dissertations that have covered an impressive range of topics, and her students have made clear their deep appreciation for all that she has done for them. Porter is a mentor with unflinchingly high standards and a sharp precision of mind who consistently provides direct, candid, and clarifying advice. She also unwaveringly offers students her patience, support, encouragement, kindness, generosity, and loyalty — especially in times of need or suffering. Her former students continue to seek her advice and guidance as they proceed with their publishing careers, negotiate life at new institutions, and move into leading roles in the discipline.

The awards ceremony took place at the Spring Faculty Meeting on Tuesday, May 2 at 3:30 p.m. in McKenna Hall, where Porter offered brief remarks regarding her approach to graduate mentorship. A reception followed.

“It’s the best life I could imagine. There’s something really powerful about this kind of involvement in another person’s mind. I watch them make connections. I watch them turn into scholars.”

— Jean Porter

“Whereas some dissertation directors may seek to impose their own personality, ideas, or style, Jean’s goal is always to make each of us better scholars in the way most appropriate to each of our scholarly natures — rather than making us into mini-images of herself.”

— Elisabeth Rain Kincaid, Legendre-Soulé Chair in Business Ethics and director of the Center for Ethics and Economic Justice at Loyola University New Orleans