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Sheedy given to professor

Meghan Wons | Friday, September 8, 2006

Professor Christian Moevs of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures was presented with the prestigious Sheedy Award for teaching excellence in the College of Arts and Letters Thursday.

The award was presented at a ceremony in McKenna Hall Auditorium as part of the Arts and Letters Advisory Council weekend events, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies Stuart Greene said.

“The award seeks to recognize excellence in teaching, and the people we honor generally not only excel in teaching but also in research and in service to the University,” Greene said.

Greene said the first Sheedy Award, named after a former dean of the College of Arts and Letters, was presented in 1970 and has been awarded annually ever since.

An honorarium provided by an anonymous donor is presented to Sheedy Award winners to be used as they wish.

“I’m in the early stages of a new research project, and this honorarium is a godsend,” Moevs said. “It will allow me to gather materials and buy essential books. Ultimately, I have faith that it will find its way back to the students, because I will share with them everything I learn in my work.”

Moevs was nominated by a student who praised Moevs, calling his class “a journey through the core of the liberal arts” and “an inter-textual ‘close reading’ that hits at the profound questions motivating our pursuit of knowledge.”

“I never would have believed that class could be a transcendental, spiritual experience,” the student wrote. “Now, I am convinced through experience.”

Moevs said he was deeply moved when he found out he had been nominated for the award by a student.

“What is most wonderful about the Sheedy [Award] is that it descends upon one unasked, unsought,” he said That the initial instigator was a student is a sign of the mutual giving that is the essence of teaching and learning.”

According to Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters Web site, Moevs joined the Notre Dame faculty in 1994 and his “scholarly interests include Dante, medieval Italian literature, lyric poetry and poetics and the intersection between literature and philosophy.”

Greene said the Sheedy Award committee “unanimously supported” presenting Moevs with the award because of the “range of courses he has taught and the consistently high teaching evaluations he receives.”

“His classes are very demanding, but his students recognize and appreciate the high standards he sets for them,” he said.

The 2006 Sheedy Award committee was comprised of Greene, Professor Jim McAdams from the Department of Political Science, Professor Gail Bederman from the Department of History, Professor Steve Fallon from the Program of Liberal Studies and undergraduate Dean’s Fellow Lance Chapman.

The committee considered a dozen nominees for the Sheedy Award this year, Greene said. Once someone has been nominated for the award, they remain a nominee on the list for five years. This was the first year Moevs has been nominated.

“He’s a terrific colleague who is very dedicated to his students and is really deserving of this award for the ways in which he motivates his students,” Greene said.

Greene said a number of students have chosen to study languages as a major or minor, study in Rome and do research as a result of their classroom experience with Moevs.

When asked about his teaching philosophy, Moevs said he teaches “to prevent understanding that is unaccompanied by inner change,” a phrase from Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Last years’ Sheedy Award winner, Professor William Ramsey from the Department of Philosophy, introduced Moevs. Moevs delivered a brief address about love as the essence of teaching.