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Alumni Association presents annual spring awards

The University of Notre Dame Alumni Association recognized a number of distinguished alumni and staff during its annual spring board meeting. The association presents awards throughout the year that fall into six broad categories, each representing an area in which the University encourages excellence: the arts, athletics, service to the Alumni Association, service to country, service to humanity and service to the University.

The University of Notre Dame Alumni Association recognized a number of distinguished alumni and staff during its annual spring board meeting. The association presents awards throughout the year that fall into six broad categories, each representing an area in which the University encourages excellence: the arts, athletics, service to the Alumni Association, service to country, service to humanity and service to the University.

The following six awards were presented on campus April 17 and 18:

The Dr. Thomas A. Dooley Award

Established in 1984, the Dr. Thomas A. Dooley Award, presented this year to Richard F. Ott M.D. ’69, recognizes a graduate who has exhibited outstanding service to humankind.

In his hometown of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Ott and his wife, Wanda, started Interplast South Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit providing volunteer surgical care for children with cleft lip and palate deformities in Honduras. For more than 40 years, their organization has served communities in San Pedro Sula, even bringing patients back to Fort Lauderdale in cases where extensive surgery was required, where Ott cared for them in his own home.

Following Category 5 Hurricane Andrew in 1992, Ott accompanied the National Guard to Homestead, Florida, as president of the Broward County Medical Association, helping to bring three volunteer clinics and a mobile unit to provide free medical care to more than 10,000 residents affected by the hurricane. A year earlier, Ott organized a volunteer clinic at the Salvation Army Center in Fort Lauderdale for those experiencing homelessness, which in 1996 was influential in the creation of one of the first hospital-based healing centers for complementary therapies.

For his work, Ott has been recognized by groups such as the Caduceus Society, Notre Dame Club of Fort Lauderdale, Florida Medical Association and University of Florida College of Medicine. Additionally, Ott is the first physician to be awarded the coveted Broward Leadership Award.

The William D. Reynolds Award

Established in 1985, the William D. Reynolds Award, presented this year to Megan E. Collins ’98, ’99, M.D., MPH, recognizes a graduate doing exceptional work with youth for the betterment of their quality of life.

An associate professor of ophthalmology at Johns Hopkins University, Collins has dedicated her career to understanding and dismantling systemic barriers in access to pediatric eye care, developing school-based vision programs to mitigate health inequities.

Since 2014, Collins has worked with students in Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS), one of the highest-poverty school districts in the country, to implement vision care resources using her research highlighting the correlation between vision care and academic achievement. Along with BCPS, the Baltimore City Health Department, Johns Hopkins, Vision to Learn, and the eyewear retailer Warby Parker, Collins’ program has provided vision screenings, eye exams and eyeglasses to each of the 150 Baltimore City elementary and middle schools. Since 2016, more than 95,000 students have been screened and more than 15,000 students who failed screenings received eye exams and eyeglasses.

Collins’ ongoing research has revealed the success of a school-based model to address unmet eye care needs in socioeconomically disadvantaged districts, which has been highlighted in the nation’s leading medical journals and has inspired similar programs around the country.

The Rev. Arthur S. Harvey C.S.C., Award

Established in 2000, the Rev. Arthur S. Harvey, C.S.C., Award, presented this year to Michael N. Cerre ’69, recognizes a graduate for outstanding accomplishments or achievements as practicing performing artists.

Cerre works as a special correspondent for PBS NewsHour and has years of producing and broadcasting experience, covering major world events from the 1992 Cuban Missile Crisis Reunion in Havana to the Syrian refugee and African climate crises. His success has earned him many accolades, including five Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award for his documentary “The Incredible Voyage of Bill Pinkney,” which chronicles the first African American to sail around the world. The Sundance Film Festival also selected his theatrical documentary “CSNY: Deja Vu” — co-produced with singer Neil Young — as its closing film in 2009.

Cerre’s first broadcast project took place as a student at Notre Dame with the WNDU news station. Cerre now lives in the San Francisco Bay area with his wife, Gina, with whom he shares two daughters and four grandsons.

The Rev. Robert F. Griffin, C.S.C., Award

Established in 2003, the Rev. Robert F. Griffin, C.S.C., Award, presented this year to Patrick C. Madden III ’93, recognizes a graduate for outstanding accomplishments or achievements in writing.

Madden has published three essay collections with the University of Nebraska Press — “Quotidiana” (2010), “Sublime Physick” (2016) and “Disparates” (2020) — each of which illuminates his love of both the sciences and the arts. Madden also co-edited the anthology “After Montaigne” (Georgia, 2015) and co-translated the “Selected Poems of Eduardo Milán” (Shearsman, 2012). His published works can be found across many journals, magazines and books, and his writing has won high acclaim, with pieces placed in the competitive “The Best American Essays” anthology, as well as “The Best American Spiritual Writing” series and “The Best Creative Nonfiction.” His books have earned prizes from Foreword Reviews, Independent Publisher, the Association for Mormon Letters, the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses, the Utah Humanities Council, and PEN Center USA. He was also awarded two Fulbright fellowships for study in Uruguay and a Howard Foundation fellowship from Brown University.

Madden currently serves as vice president of the NonfictioNOW conference; co-editor of the journal Fourth Genre and the 21st Century Essays series at the Ohio State University Press; and curator of the online anthology and essay resource Quotidiana. He’s also a dedicated teacher of creative writing and literature at Brigham Young University and at Vermont College of Fine Arts — continuing to inspire the next generation of writers.

The James E. Armstrong Award

Established in 1978, the James E. Armstrong Award, presented this year to Brian Coughlin ’95, recognizes a graduate who is a current or former employee of Notre Dame and has rendered distinguished service to the University.

From the start of his career, as one of the University’s first male lay rectors, Coughlin has been dedicated to helping guide students through life on campus. He spent three years as the rector of Carroll Hall and then went on to serve in the Student Activities Office — first as director and then as assistant vice president.

Since 2010, Coughlin has served as the associate vice president for student development, overseeing the Office of Community Standards, Gender Relations Center, Multicultural Student Programs and Services, Student Activities Office, Legends of Notre Dame, Student Media and the Notre Dame band. He has also dedicated his time as the head coach of the Notre Dame women’s water polo club, mentoring student-athletes and leading them to 12 Midwest Division Championships and eight runner-up appearances during his tenure.

During the coronavirus pandemic, his selfless support empowered student leadership to both navigate challenges and enact change to improve the University. Serving as the adviser to the student body president, vice president and chief of staff, Coughlin offers his time and guidance to ensure these student leaders reach their goals and aspirations to make Notre Dame a better place.

The William P. Sexton Award

Established in 2001, the William P. Sexton Award, presented this year to Librarian Emeritus Dwight B. King Jr., honors non-alumni of Notre Dame who have contributed outstanding service to the University and whose lives exemplify the spirit of Notre Dame.

As a member of the Notre Dame Law School faculty for 33 years, King has served on various committees of the American Association of Law Libraries and published numerous scholarly articles in professional journals. In 1997, he received the Rev. Paul J. Foik, C.S.C., Award, conferred upon a Notre Dame library faculty member.

For more than 25 years, King served as the faculty adviser of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA). In 1996, the BLSA recognized his dedication to the young people in his charge by creating the Dwight King Community Service Award, which is given annually to a member who has devoted considerable time, energy and attention to both the BLSA and the Law School community. King also served for 17 years as the discriminatory harassment ombudsperson for the University through the Office of Institutional Equity, appointed to the position by President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.

In retirement, King returned to the Law School this academic year (2023-24) as an adjunct faculty member to teach the first-year legal research course. Outside of campus, King is a member of St. Joseph Parish and volunteers at the Downtown Soup Kitchen operated out of the First United Methodist Church during his lunch hour on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Since 2004, he’s also served as the play-by-play announcer for Clay High School boys’ soccer.


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