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SMC honors faculty, student

Caitlin Housley | Friday, May 20, 2011

Saint Mary’s President Carol Ann Mooney presented three of the school’s most prestigious honors to members of the College community earlier this month, according to College press releases.

Professor Nancy Nekvasil, chair of the Department of Biology, was this year’s recipient of the Spes Unica Award for her eminent service to the College.

“Professor Nekvasil models selfless devotion to the College and exudes boundless enthusiasm for teaching and scholarship,” Mooney said.

The recipient of the award is chosen based on nominations from Saint Mary’s students, faculty and staff, the release stated. The Academic Affairs Council makes the final decision for the award.

“She demands the best of her students, supports their efforts and takes great delight in their success,” Mooney said of Nekvasil. “A teacher-scholar, she shares her love of her discipline and helps students develop their own voice in that discipline.”

Nekvasil served on a variety of committees, including Student Affairs, Academic Standards, Faculty Affairs and the General Education Committee. According to the press release, she is also an advocate of the College writing program and an advisor for two student clubs.

As the chair of the biology department Nekvasil led the department through extensive reviews and counseled students who plan to attend graduate school in health care.

“I was very humbled receiving this award,” Nekvasil said. “Many, many people work and give and serve Saint Mary’s day in and day out. So to be selected among those individuals is a tremendous honor.”

Political Science Chair Patrick Pierce received the Maria Pieta Award at the convocation.

“He not only demands the best from his students, he also goes out of his way to help meet that demand,” Mooney said.

The Maria Pieta Award was established in 1976 in honor of Sr. Maria Pieta, a teacher and administrator at Saint Mary’s.

“The award recognized the quality of teaching done in courses for freshmen and sophomores,” the release stated.

One student nomination for Pierce said his teacher was “the most valuable to my growth as an independent and analytical thinker,” the release said.

Pierce maintains .contact with alumna from his department, especially to help current students with networking, and is also the advisor for the Saint Mary’s basketball program.

Pierce said he was very honored to receive the award.

“I was tremendously surprised and pleased to receive the Maria Pieta Award. Saint Mary’s College is truly dedicated to undergraduate education, so it’s a great environment for those of us who love to teach and to engage students,” Pierce said. “To be recognized among so many outstanding teachers is a real honor.”

Junior Laura Glaub was awarded the Saint Catherine Medal. Glaub, a native of Okemos, Mich., received the award for her high standards of scholarship and her contributions to the College’s spirit of Christian leadership, according to the release.

“She is a young woman who does not seek power or advantage for herself, but uses her endless energy to recognize and elevate others by nominating people for awards, finding innovative ways to express her appreciation and being driven by the desire to empower others,” Mooney said.

Glaub is the founder of Love Your Body Week at Saint Mary’s. She also served on numerous school boards, including Student Government Association, Residence Life, Dance Marathon, the Belles Against Violence Office and Student Activities Board.

Glaub has also given back to her community through her participation in the Office for Civic and Social Engagement’s Rebuilding Together and College Academy of Tutoring programs.

“She shows us of what we are capable when we integrate heart and mind, and when we approach others and the world guided by the values of respect, compassion and service,” Mooney said.

While she said she was honored to receive the award, Glaub recognized the other members of the College community as her inspiration to give back to the school.

“My goal at Saint Mary’s was to make a difference. I hope next year I can make this happen,” Glaub said. “I … want to leave Saint Mary’s knowing that the people I came in contact with smile when they hear my name.”