Biology Professor Honored with Spes Unica Award


Chair of Biology Department Honored with Spes Unica Award

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Gwen O’Brien
Director of Media Relations
Saint Mary's College
(574) 284-4579

May 9, 2011 (Notre Dame, Ind.)—The Spes Unica Award recognizes a faculty member’s eminent service to Saint Mary’s College. Contributions can be in the area of teaching, scholarship/ creative activity and/or service. This year’s recipient, Professor Nancy Nekvasil, Chair of the Department of Biology, has demonstrated exceptional dedication to the College in all of these areas.

According to her award citation, Nekvasil models selfless devotion to the College and exudes boundless enthusiasm for teaching and scholarship.

She has been a member of many committees, including Student Affairs, Academic Standards, Faculty Affairs, Admission and Scholarship, Rank and Tenure, Curriculum, Assessment, Grievance, and the General Education Committee. She has shared her expertise as a faculty member by mentoring new faculty both in her department and through the College mentoring program. She has supported the College’s writing program, once serving as a co-director. At one point, she even put her love of teaching on hold to help the College as an advisor in the Academic Affairs Office.

As stated in the citation, Nekvasil gives tirelessly to her department. She is the advisor for two student clubs. As chair of the Department of Biology, she led her department through an external review and is now leading them in curricular revision. In one of her particularly demanding roles, she counsels students who intend to go to graduate school in the health care disciplines. She makes four-year plans for these students, advises them, and writes letters of recommendation.

As a recipient of the Maria Pieta Award in 1990, she is recognized as an extraordinary teacher. After only five minutes in conversation with her, one sees her love for teaching and her students. She demands the best of her students, supports their efforts, and takes great delight in their success. Her office door is always open. Students appreciate her support. As one student said in her nomination letter, “Whenever there was a low point . . [she] was always there telling you that she believes in you.” A teacher-scholar, she shares her love of her discipline and helps students develop their own voice in that discipline.

Professor Nekvasil received the Spes Unica Award at Honors Convocation on Sunday, May 9. Students, faculty and staff nominate candidates for this award and the Academic Affairs Council makes the final selection. The name of the recipient is not revealed until the Convocation.

About Saint Mary’s College: Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Ind., is a four-year, Catholic, women’s institution offering five bachelor’s degrees and more than 30 major areas of study. Saint Mary’s College has six nationally accredited academic programs: social work, art, music, teacher education, chemistry and nursing. Saint Mary’s College ranks among the top 100 “Best National Liberal Arts Colleges” in the U.S. News & World Report 2011 College Guide. Founded in 1844, Saint Mary’s is a pioneer in the education of women, and is sponsored by the Sisters of the Holy Cross.