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Rev. William M. Lies, C.S.C. Honored by College of Arts and Letters

At the College of Arts and Letters’ Fall 2012 Dean’s Address to the Faculty John T. McGreevy, I.A. O’Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts and Letters presented the 2012 Award of Appreciation for Outstanding Service to Rev. William M. Lies, C.S.C., vice president for Mission Engagement and Church Affairs, for his contributions to the College of Arts and Letters when he served as the Executive Director for the Center for Social Concerns.

Dean McGreevy said, “It is a genuine pleasure to present the College of Arts and Letters’ 2012 Award of Appreciation for Outstanding Service to Rev. William M. Lies, C.S.C.

Most of you are familiar with the award. It is given each year to a member of the Notre Dame community outside Arts and Letters who has made a significant contribution to the College’s work. Fr. Bill Lies is technically not outside the College given that he has taught as a faculty member on occasion for our Department of Political Science, and, along with his Center for Social Concerns colleague Bill Purcell, he has taught a successful College Seminar on Catholic social thought.

But the award today and those who nominated Fr. Lies recognize something else: the powerful role the Center for Social Concerns plays in the formation of Arts and Letters students—and even Arts and Letters faculty.

How so?

  • one of the lasting consequences of the Second Vatican Council in the world of Catholic universities was a new sense of engagement with the world and, particularly, a direct challenge to push students to better understand the inequalities that shape it;
  • the Center for Social Concerns in the 1970s and 1980s was a national leader in developing social service programs for students, ranging from after-school volunteer opportunities to urban plunges over Christmas break and trips to Appalachia in the spring;
  • the Center then pushed the University to move into community engagement and service learning through many innovative courses, most taught by Arts and Letters faculty;
  • the Center now sends dozens of students to do social service abroad as well, helping make ours one of the nation’s most global campuses in terms of the volunteer experience of our students;
  • and all of this is an indispensable marker of the University’s commitment to its Catholic character—a marker that simply didn’t exist, I will add, in the long ago days when Notre Dame was putatively more Catholic.

No one in the recent past has made more of a difference for the Center and, thus, more of a difference for Arts and Letters students than Bill Lies. Under his leadership during the past 10 years, more than 2,500 students participated in international or domestic summer service learning programs, more than 7,600 students participated in a social concerns seminar, 1,905 students have gone on to do postgraduate service, and more than 120 community-based learning courses were offered in 2012—a steady increase over the past decade. Twenty percent of Arts and Letters students do fulltime service in the Peace Corps, ACE, Teach for America, the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, and other organizations after graduation.

And the next time the University boasts, as it should, about the 10 percent of its graduates who do full-time service, remember that the vast bulk of that 10 percent are Arts and Letters students, making ours the College with the tightest connection to this core aspect of Notre Dame’s mission.

So for bringing to our campus a disciplined respect for injustice and for helping form the students and alumni who make all of us proud to work at Notre Dame, please join me in thanking and congratulating Fr. Bill Lies.”

Fr. Lies was appointed beginning in July to serve the University in the newly created position of vice president for Mission Engagement and Church Affairs. Rev. Paul V. Kollman, C.S.C., associate professor of theology succeeded Fr. Lies as the executive director of the University’s Center for Social Concerns.


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