2011 Award Recipients

Gertrude Austin Marti Award in Theology

The Gertrude Austin Marti Award in Theology is given to a graduating senior who has given evidence of qualities of personal character and academic achievement in theological studies. This year it goes to Elizabeth Simpson, with our congratulations.

2011_award1Marti Award Winner Elizabeth Simpson with Department Chair Matt Ashley

When the Collegiate Committee solicited names for recipients to the Marti award, we received many, but in almost every reply Elizabeth's name was mentioned. She completes her theology major with a 3.9 GPA, so it is clear she has maintained high academic work. But the Marti award especially honors the successful combination of extraordinary service to Church and community, along with academic excellence. She has been acknowledged by additional groups: she is a National Merit Scholar, belongs to Phi Beta Kappa, and has received the Truman scholarship which is given to college students with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to careers in government, nonprofit, or public service.

Elizabeth will apply her scholarship to a Masters in Public Policy.

But to turn from the future to the present, during her time at Notre Dame Elizabeth initiated the West Side Food Security Council and eND Hunger Initiative, of which she has been the director. This Council of 17 local nonprofit directors, with university faculty and students, assess and improve food security for citizens of South Bend. It established a fund to subsidize food stamp purchases of local produce, and for year-round fresh food market and community center on the West side. On campus, it sponsored awareness activities, such as a quarterly forum and social networking. All this while being a resident assistant, serving as a summer intern in the US Senate, conducting funded undergraduate research, being a tutor at La Casa de Amistad, and volunteering at Our Lady of the Road Drop in Center.

The Reverend Joseph H.Cavanaugh Award

The Cavanaugh Award is given to the senior who has evidenced high qualities of personal character and academic excellence in theological studies. It  was established in 1960 in honor of Father Joseph Cavanaugh, C.S.C., former head of the Department of Theology. This year goes to James Maslar, with our congratulations.

2011_awardCavanaugh Award Winner James Maslar with Department Chair Matt Ashley

James finishes his studies at Notre Dame with a GPA in Theology of a straight 4.0, and a University GPA of 3.9 (this was earned in a secondary major of pre-professional studies that included courses like Advanced General Chemistry, Organic Structure and Reactivity, and Physics I and II). James is also a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society and has consistently been on the Dean's list.


Not one to waste his summers, James has been employed at St. Colette Catholic parish back in Ohio in an intern type position, served two summers in our Notre Dame Vision Program for high school students, and has done volunteer work at a local nursing home and medical center. He spent a stew in the London program and in the context of an internship there he helped to organize and promote a London Citizens’ assembly of 2000 people aimed at advocating changes for the poor in response to the financial crisis. With University aid he traveled to the canonization of brother Andre, and made the pilgrimage journey on theCamino de Santiago. And in addition to catechetical and the liturgical work in O'Neill Hall, he put his theology major to work in that most challenging of all settings: eighth grade catechism class every Sunday morning at Sacred Heart Parish.