Saint Mary’s College Recognizes Five Professors with Prestigious Faculty Awards
—Professors Belanger, Davis, Pierce, Kominkiewicz, and Latham Honored—
Director of Media Relations
Saint Mary’s College
May 8, 2015 (Notre Dame, Ind.)—Saint Mary’s College is proud to recognize five professors with prestigious faculty awards for demonstrated excellence inside and outside of the classroom and dedication to students and their profession. The Academic Affairs Council, chaired by Saint Mary’s College President Carol Ann Mooney and made up of administrators, faculty, and staff, votes on the most deserving recipients after reading through nominations. The vote results are kept secret until the honors are bestowed.
Spes Unica Award
Marc Belanger, associate professor of political science and chair of the Department of Political Science, was recognized with the Spes Unica Award at Honors Convocation on Sunday, May 3. This award, established in 1958, recognizes a faculty member’s eminent service to Saint Mary’s College. His or her contributions can be in the area of teaching, scholarship, creative activity, and/or service.
As cited in the award citation, Belanger “spends time mentoring students and giving them a place to form scholarly community… Early on he recognized the need for students to understand the dynamics of interaction between and among people of different cultures and races… He created the Model United Nations course and club for students... For over a decade his programs on poverty and development in Honduras have provided students with life-changing intercultural engagement… “
The citation continues, “…junior faculty members speak to his excellent mentorship and collegiality. With depth and breadth of knowledge, he serves as a ‘go to’ source on a wide range of issues such as gender, international development, the global environment, comparative politics, and the economy… With vision, leadership, and dedication, this professor advances transformative internationalization at Saint Mary’s. He was among those who created the Intercultural Studies Program, and he served as its director…”
Belanger has been part of the Saint Mary’s faculty for 20 years.
Maria Pieta Award
Stacy Davis, associate professor of religious studies and chair of the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, was recognized with the Maria Pieta Award at Honors Convocation. The award recognizes the quality of teaching in courses for first-year students and sophomores. The award was established in 1976 in honor of Sister Maria Pieta, CSC, who was a faculty member and administrator at Saint Mary’s College.
In her letter of recommendation one student wrote, Davis “is a professor that is easy to approach, would work late hours to meet with you, and would do everything possible to make sure that her students achieve…” Another student praised Davis in her nomination letter for addressing difficult questions with grace and compassion.
As the citation states, Davis does this “through rigorous reading loads, meticulously corrected writing assignments, and humor.” One student pointed out in her nomination, “her brilliance in the classroom coupled with her dedication to her students is truly remarkable. In her passion for learning she is the embodiment of what makes Saint Mary’s such an exceptional institution.”
Davis has been part of the Saint Mary’s faculty for 12 years.
Carmi & Chris Murphy Faculty Award for Student Mentorship of the Senior Comprehensive
Patrick Pierce, professor of political science, was recently honored with the Carmi and Chris Murphy Faculty Award for Student Mentorship of the Senior Comprehensive. Pierce is the first recipient of the award, which was established through the recently concluded Faith Always, Action Now capital campaign.
As stated in the recommendation, “Because of (Pierce’s) expertise and the unquestionable ability to lead students through their comprehensives, students have confidence that their projects are the best that they could have possibly created… Due to our students need to deal with quantitative data, this professor is especially skilled to advise students. Knowing this, the professor willingly scheduled weekly meetings with students during his yearlong sabbatical. This readiness to support their intellectual development is something for which they tell us they will be forever grateful…”
One student stated, “He constantly encouraged us to reach new levels of academic achievement because he recognized and knew what our true potential was. Therefore, he was able to guide us throughout our projects until they became our finest work…”
Pierce has been on the Saint Mary's College faculty for 34 years.
Kevin J. and Marijo Rogers Kelly ’77 Faculty Service Award
Frances B. Kominkiewicz, professor of social work and chair of the Department of Social Work and Gerontology, was recently honored with the Kevin J. and Marijo Rogers Kelly ’77 Faculty Service Award, an award established through the recently completed Faith Always, Action Now campaign. As stated in the recommendation, Kominkiewicz was chosen because of her exemplified local, regional, and national commitment to social work education.
Locally, Kominkiewicz has served on the leadership teams of several local organizations as well as on the administrative teams of two nationally accredited programs in the South Bend area. In addition, every year she works with her students to organize a community forum on salient issues facing the South Bend community. The forums are valuable to student learning and have helped the community identify solutions and resources for problems such as human trafficking, homelessness, and violence.
Regionally, Kominkiewicz has served on the advisory boards for Indiana University and Andrews University. She has also served on committees at the state level dealing with licensure and certifications in the field. Nationally, she has demonstrated a commitment to strengthen social work education across the country.
Kominkiewicz has been part of the Saint Mary’s faculty for 18 years.
Donald R. and Nora Barry Fischer’73 Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence
Susan Latham ’91, associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders, was recently recognized with the Donald R. and Nora Barry Fischer’73 Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence, another award established through the Faith Always, Action Now campaign.
As stated in the recommendation, Latham goes above and beyond her duties as a teacher at Saint Mary’s to ensure that her scholars have hands-on experiences that will better prepare them for their future. She is always willing to sit down and talk with a student, always there to give advice. She makes time for each student and values each of her individual differences.
One student shared in her nomination letter that two weeks before the start of Spring 2014 semester, she lost her older sister tragically. On days when the student didn’t want to get out of bed because of depression, Latham offered encouragement. “In many ways, this professor changed my life, and helped me to see the light during my darkest days… She always started each class period by telling us to write down our gifts and talents… There were days when I believed that I had no gifts and talents, that I had no purpose. But this professor was there to hold up a mirror that showed me my true reflection and my true potential. It is because of her that I gained the strength to overcome the hardest obstacle thrown my way.”
Latham has been part of the Saint Mary’s faculty for 16 years.
About Saint Mary’s College: Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Ind., is a four-year, Catholic, residential, women’s liberal arts college offering five bachelor’s degrees and more than 30 major areas of study, such as business, nursing, art, chemistry, and social work. In the fall of 2015 Saint Mary’s College will begin to offer two graduate degrees: a Master of Science and a Doctorate. All programs that fall under these degrees are co-educational and include a Master of Science in Data Science, a Master of Science in Speech Language Pathology, and a Doctorate of Nursing Practice. Founded in 1844 by the Sisters of the Holy Cross, Saint Mary’s College’s mission is to educate students, develop their talents, and prepare them to make a difference in the world. Saint Mary’s College ranks among the top 100 Best National Liberal Arts Colleges for 2015 published by U.S. News & World Report.