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Gudorf Chair in Catholic Intellectual Traditions

Fr. Jack McGrath, S.M. Award for Research in Catholic Intellectual Traditions

The McGrath Award recognizes students whose research in a CAP course demonstrates rigorous, deep, and creative engagement with thinkers, texts and/or themes associated with Catholic Intellectual Traditions.

Awardees are honored with a $500 stipend at the annual Catholic Intellectual Tradition Symposium early in the spring semester, where they will offer a presentation of their work.

2022 Award

Information regarding the 2022 McGrath Award is below. More information will be posted as the process develops.

Application Deadline: December 17, 2021

Faculty Recommendation Deadline: January 3, 2022

Project Eligibility: Research from CAP courses completed in Spring 2021, Summer 2021 and/or Fall 2021.

2021 Presentation

Awardees of the inaugural McGrath Award presented their research virtually on Monday, February 22 and Thursday, February 25, 2021. Keynote addresses followed each session, with Andrew Prevot, Boston College, speaking on February 22 and Robert Ellsberg, editor-in-chief of Orbis Books, speaking on February 25.

2021 Junior and Senior Awards

Margaret is a senior music education major. Her project, completed for MUS 450, is entitled "Music as a Window to the Soul: The Story Behind My Senior Recital."

Emma Grace is a senior religious studies and theology major. Her project, completed for REL 490, is entitled "A Call for Renewal: How the Creation and Promulgation of Nostra Aetate Transformed Catholic-Jewish Relations."

Emily is a senior biology major. Her project, completed for CMM/REL 359, is entitled "Natural Selection: The Eschatological Role of Nature in 1 Enoch and Snowpiercer."

2021 First-year and Sophomore Awards

Maya is a sophomore health sciences major. Her project, completed for ASI 120, is entitled "Reconstruction's Black Church and its Role in the Healing Process."

Emily is a freshman religious studies and theology major. Her project, completed for ASI 110, is entitled "The Argument of a Modern Psychopath: I See God on Sunday."

Mira is a freshman religious studies and theology major. Her project, completed for REL 250, is entitled "The Effects of Clerical Sexual Abuse on the God Question."

History of this Award
About Fr. Jack McGrath

Sponsored by the Gudorf Chair in Catholic Intellectual Traditions, the award is named in honor of UD alumnus Fr. Jack McGrath (1935–2015), a dedicated teacher, who celebrated and embodied Marianist education in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.

Fr. McGrath held degrees in philosophy, history and theology. Across his illustrious career, which spanned nearly 60 years, Fr. McGrath taught high schoolers, undergraduates and graduate students in a range of disciplines, including math, American history and theology. Among many other roles in the Society of Mary, he served as a faculty member at UD beginning in 1987, where he founded the Forum on the Catholic Intellectual Tradition Today.

Award Information

In his book, Reading the Signs of the Times, Speaking to a Changing World (2003), Fr. McGrath narrates Catholic tradition as a dynamic interplay of reflection and practice, centered on God revealed in Christ, always in dialogue with broader developments in scholarship and society. UD carries on that reflective inquiry into our human nature, our world, our past, our communities, our successes and our failures, seeking the true and beautiful, so that we might serve the common good. That inquiry demands a diversity of persons and approaches. Truth is multifaceted and we often encounter it in the voices of those who have historically been marginalized. David Tracy reminds us that “The ideal is of course the whole … the whole not as a totality but as infinite, dynamic, open.” How do UD students approach the whole of truth?

At the University of Dayton, we “pursue understanding as the path to wisdom and embrace both faith and reason.” Engagement with the Catholic Intellectual Tradition (CIT) is central to the aims and purposes of UD’s Common Academic Program (CAP). Flowing out of the Catholic and Marianist mission and identity of the university, students in Humanities Commons courses “engage central concepts of Catholic Intellectual Tradition as they contribute to humanistic inquiry and reflection in the relevant academic discipline.”

As they progress through CAP, students’ engagement with CIT also progresses. Crossing Boundaries courses “strengthen the Catholic intellectual tradition in significant ways. This tradition in Catholic and Marianist higher education emphasizes the centrality of theology and philosophy, the importance of linking faith and reason, the integration of knowledge, and the application of that knowledge to personal and social situations in the world today.” Integrative courses emphasize CIT’s recognition that truth transcends any single discipline’s methods. Students ideally glimpse what physicist Max Planck called “the intimate union between the beautiful, the true and the real.” Courses in Advanced Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies “draw upon the resources of the Catholic intellectual tradition as [students] consider how to lead wise and ethical lives of leadership and service.”

The McGrath Award encourages and recognizes outstanding student research related to the themes and resources of CIT in the context of CAP coursework. Students are urged to think about CIT broadly, with Mary Ellen O’Donnell, as "a dynamic, living and rich heritage that persists and evolves." Research is most welcome that engages sources of CIT—classical and/or oft-overlooked—in conjunction with the themes of vocation, faith and reason, environmental and social justice, beauty, human rights, the nature of work, the common good, etc. A starting point for thinking about CIT is an appendix to the 2012 UD document Common Themes in the Mission and Identity of the University of Dayton, “The Catholic Intellectual Tradition and the Mission of the University: A Continuing Conversation.”

  • All currently enrolled UD undergraduate students who are planning to graduate after January 2021 are eligible to submit their research.
  • The submitted research project must have been conducted in a CAP course during fall 2020, summer 2020, spring 2020, or fall 2019.
  • Contingent upon submissions, up to three (3) awards of $500 each will be given in both the first-year/sophomore and junior/senior categories.
  • Submissions qualify for the respective category based on student credit status at the time of submission.

  • A completed student submission form. Apply here >
  • A brief, one-paragraph endorsement by a faculty sponsor. The sponsor is normally the instructor of the course in which the research was completed. After the student application is successfully submitted, the named faculty sponsor will receive an email containing a link to the recommendation form. Faculty recommendations are due by January 3, 2021.

  • Intellectual rigor and creativity of research
  • Depth of engagement with topics, sources, and/or thinkers in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition
  • Financial need of applicant (the first two criteria are paramount in the committee’s deliberations; the consideration of financial need is a subsequent one) 

All submissions will be evaluated by a committee convened by the Gudorf Chair in Catholic Intellectual Traditions. The committee is comprised of UD faculty from diverse academic disciplines. Final determination of awards will be made by the Gudorf Chair in consultation with the committee and the Office of Admission and Financial Aid.


Gudorf Chair in Catholic Intellectual Traditions

300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 1530