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Arts and Letters Faculty Honored With Awards at President’s Dinner

Author: Arts and Letters

Four educators from Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters were honored with awards at the University’s annual President’s Dinner held May 20.

Stephen M. Fallon, Rev. John J. Cavanaugh, C.S.C., Professor of the Humanities

Stephen Fallon

Fallon received the Grenville Clark Award for voluntary activities that serve to advance the cause of peace and human rights. A pre-eminent scholar of Milton known around campus for leading all-day readings of “Paradise Lost,” Fallon has expanded his classroom well beyond Notre Dame to empower some of the poorest in our region. Together with a colleague in the Program of Liberal Studies, he created the World Masterpieces Seminar at the Center for the Homeless in South Bend, bringing the Great Books to the center’s guests in the form of discussion-oriented, one-credit courses. He has also been instrumental in the development and launch of the Westville Educational Initiative, a joint program of Holy Cross College and Notre Dame through which individuals incarcerated at Westville Correctional Facility can take classes and earn credit toward a Holy Cross degree.

Cynthia K. Mahmood, associate professor of anthropology

Cynthia Mahmood

Mahmood won the Reinhold Niebuhr Award, which honors a faculty member or administrator whose body of academic work and life promote or exemplify social justice. Mahmood is one of the world’s leading experts on India’s Sikh population, their push for independence in the 1980s and ’90s, and the human rights abuses they have suffered as a result. In her quest to understand religious motivations for militancy among Sikhs and others, she has conducted ethnographic research in the midst of conflict zones, documenting the stories of victims and fighters alike in the face of threats to her safety and complex ethical dilemmas. Mahmood’s experiences have led not only to compelling books and articles but also to her serving as an advocate for Sikhs deprived of humanitarian assistance, due legal process and just political representation.

Richard A. Jensen, Gilbert F. Schaefer Professor of Economics

Richard Jensen

Jensen won the Presidential Award recognizing distinguished service to the University over an extended period of time. Jensen was appointed to the Schaefer chair several years ago based on his record of outstanding scholarship. Yet if you were to ask his colleagues the first word that comes to mind when they think of him, it would likely be “service.” His many contributions in this regard are exemplified by an incredible 13-year tenure as department chair. In this role, he has guided Notre Dame economics through a period of transition to establish what is now a top-quartile department, one whose transformation was recently described as “virtually unprecedented in the profession” by an external review team. “Doing this with a plan so coherent with the University’s mission,” the reviewers added, “makes the accomplishment all the more spectacular.”

Timothy M. Matovina, professor of theology

Timothy Matovina

Matovina won the Rev. William A. Toohey, C.S.C., Award for Social Justice. Specializing in U.S. Catholic and U.S. Latino theology and religion, Matovina is the author of the award-winning Latino Catholicism: Transformation in America’s Largest Church. This definitive work is becoming the “bible” for understanding the growth trajectory of the American Church, challenging conventional historical narratives—which have tended to focus on the experiences of European Catholic immigrants—while demonstrating his passion for and sensitivity to the religious practice and culture of today’s Latino population. Though busy as executive director of the Institute for Latino Studies and frequently sought-out for speaking engagements and workshops across the country, Matovina is also a generous friend and mentor to many, known for saying “yes” to students and colleagues. He previously has been honored by the Notre Dame student organization La Alianza for advancing knowledge and empowerment of Latino and Latina students and communities.

Originally published by Notre Dame News at on May 22, 2014.