Department Awards

Department Awards celebrate the best paper by a graduate student (Becker Award), achievements in undergraduate teaching (Dodge Award), and honors that year’s outstanding graduate student (Kane Award). 

Award Recipients

The Jeanine Becker Award for Graduate Student Papers

The Becker Award is given annually to the current student in the doctoral program who applies and whose paper is judged to best represent the highest quality of sociological scholarship and Notre Dame’s commitment to serving human welfare and justice. Full award description

Luiz Vilaça is the 2019 recipient of the Becker Award for his paper, "From the Offices to the Field: Prosecutorial Activism in the Case of the Belo Monte Dam." The committee appreciated Luiz’s incredible interview data, careful analysis, and impressive contributions to research on activism, bureaucracy, and law. 

Past Recipients

  • 2018  Julie Dallavis & Mike Wood
  • 2017  Shanna Corner & Justin Van Ness
  • 2016  Stefanie Israel & co authors: Dustin Stoltz and Marshall Taylor
  • 2015  Daniel Escher
  • 2014  Kevin Estep
  • 2013  Joseph Workman
  • 2012  Justin Farrell
  • 2011  Justin Farrell
  • 2010  Michael Strand
  • 2009  Elizabeth Covay & Guillermo Montt
  • 2008  Michael Strand
  • 2007  Jonathan Hill

David L. Dodge Memorial Teaching Award

The David L. Dodge Memorial Teaching Award is named for a Notre Dame Professor in sociology who died in 1988, is conferred annually on the graduate student in our program who has most distinguished himself or herself in the teaching of undergraduates. Full award description.

Paige Ambord is the 2019 recipient of the Dodge Award for excellence in teaching her class, Reframing the Rust Belt.

Past Recipients

  • 2018  Kelcie Vercel
  • 2017  Julie Dallavis
  • 2016  Kristi Donaldson
  • 2015  Jon Schwarz
  • 2014  Daniel Escher
  • 2013  Jeffrey Seymour
  • 2012  Kari Christoffersen
  • 2011  Sara Skiles
  • 2010  Chris Hausmann
  • 2009  Bob Brenneman & Karen Monique Gregg
  • 2008  Brandy Elison

The John J. Kane Memorial Award

The John J. Kane Memorial Award is presented each year to an outstanding sociology graduate student. Full award description.

Michael Rotolo is the 2019 recipient of the Kane Award. Michael is doing all the right things: engaging deeply in research, publishing important contributions to the fields of religion and culture, and displaying strong teaching in the classroom. 

Past Recipients

  • 2018  Dustin Stoltz
  • 2017  Marshall Taylor
  • 2016  Kevin Estep
  • 2015  Bryant Crubaugh & Daniel Escher
  • 2014  Melissa Pirkey
  • 2013  Justin Farrell
  • 2012  Heather Price
  • 2011  Brandon Vaidyanathan
  • 2010  Patricia Snell Herzog
  • 2009  Bob Brenneman
  • 2008  Nicolas Somma-Gonzalez
  • 2007  Xochitl Bada & Jennifer Yonkoski
  • 2006  Brandy Elison

Award Descriptions

The Jeanine Becker Award for Graduate Student Papers

The Jeanine Becker Award is named after Dr. Jeanine A. Becker, PhD./R.N., who was a doctoral student in Notre Dame’s Sociology Department between 1985 and 1994. Dr. Becker was a medical sociologist who studied the empowerment of nurses in American hospitals for her dissertation project, directed by Professor Rodney Ganey. She also presented papers on the “Healthy People 2000” initiative; the effects of smoking on natality, lead poisoning in children, infant mortality, competency-based nurse training, and school health.

After completing her doctorate, Dr. Becker stayed with the Sociology Department as an Adjunct Professor until her untimely death from a brain tumor in April 1997. She was known among her peers and colleagues as both a dedicated scholar and a compassionate practitioner. She directed and served in several departments of Memorial Hospital, South Bend, Indiana, before, during, and after her time as a graduate student.

The Becker Award is given annually to the current student in the doctoral program who applies and whose paper is judged to best represent the highest quality of sociological scholarship and Notre Dame’s commitment to serving human welfare and justice.

 The honor carries with it a monetary award of $200.00.  In addition, the student’s names will be inscribed on a plaque which will hang in the departmental office.

David L. Dodge Memorial Teaching Award

The David L. Dodge Memorial Teaching Award is named for a Notre Dame Professor in sociology who died in 1988, is conferred annually on the graduate student in our program who has most distinguished himself or herself in the teaching of undergraduates.  The Undergraduate Studies Committee votes the winner of this award.  The honor carries a monetary award of $200.00.  In addition, the student’s name will be inscribed on a plaque which will hang in the departmental office.

Professor Dodge was one of our department’s most dedicated teachers.  Indeed, he instituted several courses for graduates to help them prepare for careers as teachers in college or university settings.  David Dodge also won the gratitude of successive generations of students for the work that he performed as an advisor; he is remembered particularly for aiding part-timers on the long and often arduous road toward a degree.  As a teacher, Dave was filled with enthusiasm; as a colleague, he was invariably selfless; as a mentor, he effused confidence and good cheer.  It was in the hope that we might honor the memory of such a unique person and encourage these traits in future teachers that colleagues and students of Professor Dodge inaugurated the fund that is the source of this award.

The John J. Kane Memorial Award

The John J. Kane Memorial Award is presented each year to an outstanding sociology graduate student. The honor carries with it a monetary award of $200.00.  In addition, the student’s names will be inscribed on a plaque which will hang in the departmental office.

Dr. Kane was a dedicated teacher who taught in the Department from 1948 until his death in 1972. He was chairperson of the Department from 1953 to 1963. He contributed to many Catholic publications, mainly in the areas of family and religion, and his column in Our Sunday Visitor was published weekly for many years.

Among the positions he held were Assistant Dean, Arts and Letters College, Notre Dame; President, The American Catholic Sociology Society; Regional Vice-President, Indiana Conference on Family Relations; and Indiana Director and Member of the Religious Commission in the National Conference on Christians and Jews.

Upon his death while on leave of absence from the University of Notre Dame to build the Department of Sociology at St. Joseph’s College in Philadelphia, his alma mater, the Department established a memorial fund in his honor, derived from contributions by his colleagues, friends, and former students, to be presented to the graduate student who shows the “greatest academic excellence in any given year.”