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Senate votes on awards for students, faculty

| Thursday, March 17, 2022

The 2021-2022 Notre Dame student senate reconvened Wednesday night following spring break on the second floor of the LaFortune Student Center. 

After opening with a prayer, student body vice president Matthew Bisner moved on to roll call and executive announcements. 

Bisner announced that senators should sign up to grade hall of the year presentations, and offered reminders that Judicial Council applications are still open and that the student union formal is occurring this Friday.

Moving into general orders, the senate voted on the awarding of four awards. The Michael J. Palumbo Award had a single nomination, for off-campus president Thomas Davis. 

Judicial council president David Haungs read aloud a nomination letter.

“This year, nominations for Thomas poured in from both inside the Student Union — coming from no less than four different branches — and from outside the Student Union,” Haungs said. “Thomas’ character as off-campus president, Judicial Council president, and parliamentarian — not to mention the numerous other positions he has held — is matched by his integrity, faithfulness and service outside of these institutions.”

Davis won the award by a unanimous vote.

Next, the senate considered the Student Irish Clover Award. The nominees were Haungs, chief of staff Alix Basden, student body president Allan Njomo and director of university policy Dane Sherman.

Njomo motioned to add Bisner’s name to the nominations, seconded by Davis.

“All of these nominees have done a phenomenal job at serving the student union,” Keough Hall senator Benjamin Erhardt said.

Following an initial round of votes, Bisner and Haungs emerged as the top two contenders. Bisner ultimately won the award.

The senate moved to considering the Nancy J. Walsh Irish Clover Award, for faculty and staff. The six nominees were university writing program director Patrick Clauss, Campus Ministry director Fr. Pete McCormick, neuroscience professor Nancy Michael, Duncan Hall rector Nhat Nguyen, Irish language and literature associate professor Brian O’Conchubhair and physics professor Rebecca Surman.

In the second vote, a tie between Nguyen and McCormick occurred. 

“Being a rector is a very difficult job, and the way he goes about it is just so personal,” sophomore class president Paul Stoller said. “He’ll have my vote.”

Njomo said “the reason I love Nhat Nguyen is because he’s really a jack of all trades … and it really shows how much he cares about this community, that he goes beyond Duncan Hall.”

Following several other testimonies to Nguyen, the senate voted a third time and Nguyen won the election.

Finally, the senate voted on nearly 30 nominees for the Frank O’Malley Undergraduate Teaching Award, with senators adding a few names to the debate as the debate went on.

After an initial vote, the senate returned to debate before a runoff vote between the top six nominees. Knott Hall senator Abraham Figueroa and Stoller both described finance professor Carl Ackermann as “selfless,” while Bisner made a second plea for gender studies professor Pam Butler.

Ackermann ultimately won the award.

“Prof. Ackermann is by far the best instructor I have ever had…,” his nomination read. “Regardless of his class size, which is usually rather large, he makes a large effort to get to know every single one of his students, and he very much succeeds at that.”

The senate then attempted to vote on several other agenda items. Having lost quorum, however, the meeting was adjourned following closing announcements.

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About Isa Sheikh

Isa Sheikh is a first-year in Stanford Hall and serves as associate news editor. A history and political science major hailing from Sacramento, he enjoys reading The Observer on the 11th floor of Hes, sipping Cinderblock Coffee in the morning, and re-reading the same Didion essays. He can be reached at [email protected]

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