Behind the mask, the cape, and the suit of every superhero stands a seemingly ordinary individual blessed with an incredible gift. Behind Captain America stands Stephen McFeely ’91. The English and goverment major is part of the screenwriting duo behind the Captain America movies, the Narnia trilogy, and Pain & Gain, as well as the Primetime Emmy Award-winning biopic The Life and Death of Peter Sellers.
Latest News » Alumni
Katie Beirne, a Marshall Scholar and 1998 graduate of the University of Notre Dame, has been appointed deputy director of communications for the White House.
Melissa Mayus never planned on specializing in Old English. The current English Ph.D. student took an Old English class as an undergraduate at Notre Dame that sparked an unexpected passion that has taken her all the way to Iceland.
An engineer with a strong liberal arts background is a valuable asset in today’s business world, says Craig Simon, president and chief executive officer of FedEx SupplyChain and a 1989 alumnus of Notre Dame’s distinctive Arts and Letters/Engineering Dual-Degree Program. “When you get into the business world, you’re going to stand out because you will have the ability to use both sides of your brain,” says Simon, who spoke at a recent event honoring the top students in the program.
Millions of Americans watched live nightly news coverage of the papal conclave in Vatican City, and if you happened to be watching NBC, you were likely being told the news by a Notre Dame alumna. Anne Thompson ’79 is NBC’s chief environmental affairs correspondent and has covered stories from the Gulf oil spill to Hurricane Katrina and 9/11. Given her Catholic background and previous reporting on the Church, Thompson was assigned to cover the conclave, much to her excitement.
Notre Dame College of Arts and Letters alumni Brian Powers ’12 and Nicholas Gunty ’12 have a lot to be proud of after releasing a music video for the title track of their first album, Kandote. What they did with the proceeds from that compilation, however, is even better.
Imagine you have just completed 26.2 miles of running, with legs like Jell-O, a headache, and worn-out lungs. Now imagine running that same marathon in the searing heat of the Sahara Desert or the blistering cold of the North Pole. That’s what Notre Dame College of Arts and Letters alumnus Michael Collins ’87, ’91 M.A. does. In addition to being an “ultra-marathoner,” Collins, who has a Ph.D. in English, is also a successful novelist and playwright.
Melanie A. Howard, a graduate of the University of Notre Dame’s Master in Theological Studies (MTS) program, has won the 2011-12 Word & World Essay Prize for Doctoral Candidates. The prize is sponsored by Word & World: Theology for Christian Ministry, a quarterly journal published by Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, Minn. Joseph S. Khalil, a current Ph.D. student in the department, won the prize last year.
With sports injuries a growing concern, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) decided last year to create a centralized medical office to improve safety in college sports nationwide. And they hired a Domer to do it. In October, the NCAA named Dr. Brian Hainline ’78 as the NCAA’s first ever chief medical officer. At Notre Dame, Hainline took the Arts and Letters pre-med track, which allowed him to study philosophy, too.
The Spider-Man series, The Avengers, the X-Men series—these films, produced by Marvel Comics’ production company, Marvel Studios, are some of the highest-grossing films of the 21st century. All are based on characters and stories from Marvel comic books, and it’s the job of Bill Rosemann ’93 to keep those characters and stories coming. Rosemann, an editor at Marvel Comics’ New York office, read comics in his youth and majored in English at Notre Dame.
For the 13th year in a row, the University of Notre Dame has earned a spot on Peace Corps’ annual list of the top volunteer-producing midsized colleges and universities across the country. With 23 alumni currently serving overseas as Peace Corps volunteers, the University ranks No. 18 and remains a solid source of individuals committed to making a difference at home and abroad. Since the agency was created in 1961, 865 Notre Dame alumni have served as Peace Corps volunteers.
Sylvester Schieber, who received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Notre Dame in 1974, was recently recognized by TIAA-CREF for his work on the history of the U.S. retirement system and the ways in which it could be improved. Schieber won the 17th annual TIAA-CREF Paul A. Samuelson Award for Outstanding Scholarly Writing on Lifelong Financial Security for his book The Predictable Surprise: The Unraveling of the U.S. Retirement System.
University of Notre Dame alumnus and NASA shuttle veteran Kevin A. Ford spoke with his alma mater from his command post on the International Space Station. “I took a Russian class at Notre Dame. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would fly someday in a Russian spacecraft with two cosmonauts, speaking only Russian,” he says.
In the lobby of the Baltimore Sun offices, beneath a photo of the newspaper’s late, legendary journalist and essayist H.L. Mencken, there is a quote: “As I look back over a misspent life, I find myself more and more convinced that I had more fun doing news reporting than in any other enterprise. It is really the life of kings.” To University of Notre Dame history alumnus Mike Leary ’71, those sentiments feel about right. “I’ve never done anything else, nor would I want to,” says the Pulitzer Prize winner.
As a history and economics major at Notre Dame, David Finocchio ’05 wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life, but he felt certain it would not involve sitting at a desk and crunching numbers. Instead, he took a shot and created bleacherreport.com, now the third most-visited sports website in the country. Last summer, Finocchio and the site’s two other founders sold the company to Turner Sports for $200 million.
A conversation with American Studies Professor Emeritus Ronald Weber helped change the life of Notre Dame alumnus Jim Greene ’85, today a homelessness policy adviser for the Boston Public Health Commission and director of the Boston Emergency Shelter Commission.
Nancy Ruscheinski, chief innovation officer and global vice chair at Edelman—the world’s largest public relations firm—returned to the University of Notre Dame recently to deliver an unlikely message to undergraduates: it’s okay to not have a plan for your future right away. As an Arts and Letters student, Ruscheinski ’84 explored a broad range of interests while developing a versatile—and valuable—skill set.
Derek A. Webb, who received his Ph.D. from Notre Dame’s Department of Political Science in 2008, was recently honored at the U.S. Supreme Court for his paper titled “The Original Meaning of Civility: Democratic Deliberation at the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention.” Webb’s essay won the American Inn of Court’s prestigious 2012 Warren E. Burger Prize, named for the late Chief Justice and the founder and first president of the Supreme Court Historical Society.
Douglas Griffiths ’86 has been a professional globetrotter for more than two decades—not collecting postcards but rather serving his country in U.S. diplomatic outposts all over the world. Griffiths, who received his B.A. in government from the University of Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters, was appointed U.S. ambassador to Mozambique in July.
Three University of Notre Dame graduates were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in Tuesday’s election. College of Arts and Letters alumnus Joe Donnelly of Indiana is the second graduate to be elected to the Senate, but the fourth to serve.
James O’Connell, M.D., a 1970 University of Notre Dame College of Arts and Letters graduate and founder and president of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, was recently awarded the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism. Presented by The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, this prestigious award recognizes O’Connell for his advocacy and direct service to people experiencing homelessness. The Schweitzer Prize is given to an individual whose life example has significantly improved the health of people in the United States or abroad, and whose commitment to service influences and inspires others.
With the critical November elections now upon us, the work of political theorist James Fetter couldn’t be more timely. Fetter, who earned his Ph.D. from Notre Dame in Political Science in 2012, studies and writes about the virtues of political leadership.
In the fall of her first year at Notre Dame, Stephanie Fitzhugh ‘91 sat nervously at her desk in an O’Shaughnessy Hall classroom, awaiting the start of her Composition and Literature class. Fitzhugh, who always excelled in math and science, felt uneasy taking a course focused on subjects that usually gave her trouble: literature and writing.
The European Union received the Nobel Peace Prize—despite current economic woes and social unrest—for transforming most of Europe from “a continent of war to a continent of peace.” But political scientist Joshua Bandoch, who received his Ph.D. at Notre Dame this year and is now a post-doctoral fellow at Brown University, argues that the 27-member-nation European Union is trying to form too close of a union. “This is problematic because the diverse peoples of this union are more different than their leaders seem to want to acknowledge.”
Project Hopeful, a documentary 2012 University of Notre Dame graduates Grace Johnson and Kelsie Kiley made for a course in the Department of Film, Television and Theater (FTT), is about a new kind of modern family: one where an Illinois couple with seven biological children doubles the size of its family by adopting orphans with HIV/AIDS and special needs.
Dr. Bob Arnot ’70 has worked as an Olympic physician, served on the boards of Save the Children and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, worked as the chief medical correspondent for NBC and CBS News, covered most major humanitarian disasters, served as MSNBC’s chief foreign correspondent in Iraq and Afghanistan, and written a dozen best-selling books on health and nutrition. As host of the television show Dr. Danger, he navigates treacherous assignments in Somalia, Sudan, and other global hotspots. Arnot also spends four months a year on humanitarian projects in Africa and the Middle East, and just completed a PBS documentary on starving children. His passions, he says, took root in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters.
Of the many lessons Kathleen Blatz ’76 took from Notre Dame, the one she says mattered most was not learned in a specific class or from a certain professor. Rather, it was the entirety of her educational experience—from studying abroad in Rome to diving into art history to exploring anthropology—that broadened her perspective on life and helped shape her own path.
Two essays published in Notre Dame Magazine last year have been named to the “Notable Essays of 2011” in this year’s collection of The Best American Essays, edited by David Brooks and Robert Atwan. Both essays were written by graduates of the University’s College of Arts and Letters.
As a member of the U.S. Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff in Washington, D.C., Matthew Walsh ’06 conducts policy research, makes policy recommendations on Africa and development strategy, and contributes to speeches for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “One of our jobs is to provide the Secretary of State with second opinions on policy issues,” says Walsh, who majored in political science and peace studies at Notre Dame. “It’s an exciting job that goes to the heart of almost every foreign policy debate and can have a real influence on policy.”
As an undergraduate economics major in the College of Arts and Letters, Bill Kennedy ’90 took an Asian history class to fulfill one of his academic requirements. That class, he says, is part of the reason he is now a top portfolio manager at Fidelity Investments in London. “I fell in love with international business because I’d taken government requirements and then a fascinating Asian history class,” he says. “My professor got me really excited about the opportunities in Asia. My career grew right out of my Arts and Letters degree; I became fascinated with things that are now relevant to my career and what I do every day.”