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University of Dayton launches new award for undergraduate student research in Catholic intellectual traditions

By Dave Larsen

A new award honoring the memory of a University of Dayton alumnus and Marianist leader recognizes outstanding undergraduate student research related to Catholic intellectual traditions.

The Fr. Jack McGrath, S.M., Award for Research in Catholic Intellectual Traditions recognizes students whose research in a Common Academic Program (CAP) course demonstrates rigorous, deep and creative engagement with thinkers, texts and/or themes associated with Catholic intellectual traditions (CIT).

Awardees will receive a $500 stipend and present their work at the second annual Catholic Intellectual Tradition symposium during the 2021 spring semester.

“The goal is to highlight research that takes place in CAP courses, where faculty develop exciting paths for student projects connected to Catholic intellectual traditions,” said Timothy Gabrielli, Gudorf Chair in Catholic Intellectual Traditions and associate professor of religious studies. “This year, the award honors research projects conducted from the 2019 fall semester through the 2020 fall semester.”

Gabrielli’s endowed chair position is focused on undergraduate education, particularly as it relates to Catholic intellectual tradition throughout the curriculum. He received his doctorate in theology and his master’s degree in theological studies from the University of Dayton.

Faculty from diverse disciplines across the University will work with Gabrielli to review submissions and determine the awardees. Up to three awards will be given in the first-year/sophomore and junior/senior categories.

Students can submit an online application on the McGrath Research Award website, along with a brief endorsement from a faculty sponsor — ideally, the instructor of the course in which their research was completed. The deadline for submissions is Nov. 16.

In the Catholic intellectual tradition, the University of Dayton pursues understanding as the path to wisdom and embraces both faith and reason.

The Common Academic Program — a learning experience shared by all undergraduate students, regardless of their major — incorporates key elements of Catholic intellectual tradition and the Marianist charism.

“Catholic intellectual tradition is an essential piece of the advanced philosophical studies, historical studies and religious studies courses in CAP that students complete,” said Michelle Pautz, assistant provost for the Common Academic Program and professor of political science. “These advanced components are among the distinctive elements of UD's approach to general education, representing what it means to be educated at a Catholic and Marianist institution. I'm thrilled to see this award highlight exceptional student engagement in these components.”

University Professor of Faith and Culture Sandra Yocum, who organizes the Catholic Intellectual Tradition symposium, also applauded Gabrielli’s initiative to recognize undergraduates’ work that engages Catholic intellectual tradition.

“In particular, I am enthused about helping undergraduates recognize that Catholic intellectual tradition is a dynamic, ongoing engagement with the most important currents, questions and challenges of our contemporary life,” said Yocum, associate professor of religious studies. “More importantly, I want undergraduates to realize that they have an open invitation to participate and contribute to Catholic intellectual tradition. They can be a part of that dynamic, ongoing engagement.”

McGrath, who died in December 2015 at age 81, was a dedicated teacher who celebrated and embodied Marianist education in the Catholic intellectual tradition. He entered the novitiate to become a Marianist brother at age 18. He received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Dayton in 1957, entered seminary a few years later and was ordained a priest in 1966 at the Marianist seminary in Fribourg, Switzerland.

In 1987, McGrath joined the University faculty, serving as Professor of Faith and Culture and founding the Forum on the Catholic Intellectual Tradition Today.

“Fr. McGrath celebrated the conversation that is the Catholic intellectual tradition,” Gabrielli said. “He sought an array of partners, across disciplines, to approach today’s pressing issues in dialogue with thinkers who have gone before us, as well as those who are our contemporaries. The McGrath Award proceeds from that same spirit: recognizing students as they participate in the dynamic intellectual exchange of CIT.”

For more information or to apply for the award, visit the McGrath Research Award website.

Image at top of page: Timothy Gabrielli, (inset) Fr. Jack McGrath, S.M.

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