Three Holy Cross Professors Honored for Scholarship and Advising

(Left to right) Paige Reynolds, Susan Schmidt, and Kendy Hess

The professors of English, philosophy and visual arts received awards at the Provost's address this spring

In her address at the spring faculty assembly, Margaret Freije, provost and dean of the College, presented the Mary Louise Marfuggi Faculty Award for Outstanding Scholarship to Paige Reynolds of the Department of English, the Mary Louise Marfuggi Faculty Award for Academic Advising to Kendy Hess of the Department of Philosophy and the Donal J. Burns ’49 Career Teaching Medal to Susan Schmidt of the Department of Visual Arts.

Paige Reynolds

Mary Louise Marfuggi Faculty Award for Outstanding Scholarship

Professor Paige Reynolds of the Department of English was recognized with the College’s annual award celebrating outstanding achievement in the creation of original scholarly contributions by a tenured faculty member over the past 18 months. In that time, Reynolds published two edited collections for Cambridge University Press, The New Irish Studies and volume six of Irish Literature in Transition, 1980-2020 (the latter co-edited with Eric Falci), both reviewed positively in The Irish Times. In addition to contributing introductions and chapters to these substantial volumes, she also published essays on Irish drama and fiction in other collections for Cambridge and Oxford University Press and gave invited keynote addresses in the U.S., Brazil and Ireland.

The two volumes showcase the awardee’s “extensive as well as cutting-edge knowledge” by drawing on various aspects of Irish culture and literature. In their nomination letter, colleagues noted that the body of work in this period “has taken the field of Irish Studies in important new directions … using new critical approaches, and drawing particular attention to the increasingly diverse and global character of contemporary Irish culture.” The Committee on Faculty Scholarship praised the nominee’s record during this period for both “the quantity of her scholarly production and its groundbreaking nature.”

"One of my favorite things about being a faculty member at Holy Cross might be the expectations: You're asked to be an inspiring teacher and a rigorous scholar and a generous College citizen," said Reynolds upon receiving the award. "We understand that those activities are entirely complementary. I appreciate that this particular award celebrates academic expertise and scholarly production; the hard work of keeping up with new ideas and generating fresh intellectual insights to share with others. Thanks to the generous support of the College, the discoveries I make about Irish writing and culture in my research can show up not only in my publication record, but also in other venues — like exciting public events hosted by the Callahan Fund for Irish Studies."

Reynolds has served as administrator of the College's Edward Callahan Support Fund for Irish Studies since 2007.

Kendy Hess

Mary Louise Marfuggi Faculty Award for Academic Advising

Professor Kendy Hess, the Brake-Smith Associate Professor in Social Philosophy and Ethics, associate professor in the Department of Philosophy, is the winner of this year’s Mary Louise Marfuggi Award for Academic Advising, given to a faculty member who has provided extraordinary academic student advisement and mentorship. The recipient is selected based on student nominations.

Hess was nominated by students repeatedly over the past few years for her accessibility, openness and ability to encourage students to take intellectual risks. One student credits Hess for taking her from wanting to quit the study of Latin to eventually becoming a Latin teaching assistant. Another starting out on her career described how her advisor “redefined my understanding of the work world I am about to enter and pushed me to ask how to define my career rather than allowing my career to define me.” Hess was described in student nominations as “captivating,” “passionate” and “dedicated,” and is someone who consistently goes above and beyond in making herself available through office hours in Cool Beans or sitting around the Hoval.

In the Jesuit tradition of cura personalis, her students report that “she cares about the whole student and is acutely aware of what makes them tick.”

"It is a privilege to work with our students," Hess said in accepting her award. "They're so brave and powerful, even if they don't realize it yet, and they just care so much. I love to help them give voice to their own values and then find ways to live into those values, whether through choosing classes and extracurriculars, pursuing internships or study abroad or thinking about careers. It means a lot to me — more than I can say — to know that I’ve helped them."

Susan Schmidt

Donal J. Burns ’49 Career Teaching Medal

Professor Susan Schmidt of the Department of Visual Arts received the Donal J. Burns '49 Career Teaching Medal, which recognizes outstanding faculty members who have devoted their lifetimes to teaching at Holy Cross. The honor exemplifies the College’s commitment to teaching excellence in the education of undergraduates.

Nomination letters from former students detail how the honoree fosters a learning environment of individualized attention that one former student describes as “a place of magic, joy, meditation and creative exploration.” Another former student writes that this professor “always takes a kind but constructive approach to her teaching” that “supports styles and voices of all kinds,” and “meets her students where they are and gently guides them forward, encouraging them until they are confident and excited enough to take off on their own.”

Colleagues describe how working with Schmidt has had a transformative effect on their own pedagogy: “I discovered how much she taught each student individually, paying attention to them, getting to know them, challenging them and inviting them to explore ideas that they found personally meaningful.” Another colleague concluded her letter of nomination: “The fact that there are so many excellent teachers at Holy Cross is one of the most humbling and inspiring aspects of being a professor here. Often, the teachers we honor are those who are especially charismatic, spellbinding, colorful and larger than life. I want to nominate Susan for this award, however, because of how effectively she helps students to become more aware of their own richly meaningful lives.”

"The Career Teaching Medal symbolizes the opportunity I have had at Holy Cross to examine my role as an artist within the liberal arts," Schmidt said. "My work has been to help students find visual forms for their concerns; for ideas that are shaped by their learning and by their own lived experience. To engage in the process-based approach of artmaking with students, at a particularly intense time in their lives, has truly been rewarding. Three decades of teaching have transformed me into a more discerning and open-minded teacher."