Alumni Spotlights

In this spotlight series, read more about the work our distinguished alumni are doing. You can also view the complete list of our alumni from 1946 to the present. 

Alumni, do you have a new position or want to be on the alumni mailing list? Let us know through our alumni update form.

Sarah Davis-Secord Headshot

Sarah Davis-Secord (Ph.D.'07)

Associate Professor of History, The University of New Mexico

"The fact that Notre Dame’s medievalist faculty, graduate students, and visiting speakers work across a broad spectrum of disciplines, fields, and periods has meant that I have a greater depth of knowledge and understanding of medieval worlds than if I had been more narrowly trained. I feel like there is nowhere else where students can be exposed to so much about the Middle Ages from so many different perspectives."

Sarah Davis-Secord completed her Ph.D. in History at Notre Dame in 2007 with a dissertation focused on the intercultural relationships between Greek Christians, Muslims, and Latin Christians in the central Mediterranean across the Middle Ages. She is the author of Three Worlds Met: Sicily in the Early Medieval Mediterranean (Cornell, 2017) and Migration in the Medieval Mediterranean (Arc Humanities Press, 2021) and a co-editor of Interfaith Relationships and Perceptions of the Other in the Medieval Mediterranean (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021). Her current research explores the exchanges between Muslims and Christians in the early medieval southern Italian peninsula.

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Catherine A. Brown Tkacz Small for Alumni Spotlight Page

Catherine A. Brown Tkacz (Ph.D. '83)

Research Professor of Theology, Ukrainian Catholic University

"What we may call pastoral concerns set the priorities of my work [...] An event took me into the Carpathian Mountains to the village of Kryvoryvnia, Ukraine to lecture to a parish. Teens, adults, and the elderly took part; farmers and a lawyer. Moving to me was that another pastor, from a neighboring village, walked twenty miles to hear my talk. I set forth the parallels between Susanna’s history and the Passion narrative, which the priests discussed with me. I understand that they now preach on this exegesis."

Catherine A. Brown Tkacz (Ph.D. ’83), the first woman to earn her doctorate from the Medieval Institute, was recently appointed to a new papal commission to study women deacons. Her career shows how rigorous historical inquiry can promote the equal dignity of women and be of service to the church.

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2021 Robert Schneider Alumni Portrait

Robert J. Schneider (Ph.D. '65)

Distinguished Professor Emeritus of General Studies and Classical Languages at Berea College, Kentucky

"I was captivated by St. Thomas’s genius as a thinker and expositor, which led me into an interest in the culture and thought of the Middle Ages."

This spotlight features one of the Medieval Institute’s earliest graduates, Robert J. Schneider, who taught courses in Latin and Greek languages and literatures, including Medieval Latin. His general studies courses courses explored topics in biblical literature, the history of Christian thought, the history of science, classical mythology, and contemporary fiction. We asked Dr. Schneider to share with us memories of the Medieval Institute.

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Stephen Metzger Headshot

Stephen Metzger (Ph.D. '13)

Scriptor of Latin Manuscripts at the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana

"I am most excited about the work that I will get to do in the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. It is still hard for me to fathom that I am going to have access to one of the greatest collections of Latin manuscripts in the world. [...] I cannot think of a better position from which to make a real contribution to the advancement of scholarly knowledge about the Middle Ages."

Following his graduation, Dr. Metzger was a 2014–2015 Mellon Fellow at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, University of Toronto, and the 2016–2017 Astrik L. Gabriel Fellow at the Medieval Institute. In 2017, Dr. Metzger published a two-volume study entitled Gerard of Abbeville, Secular Master, on Knowledge, Wisdom and Contemplation in the series Studien und Text zur Geistesgeschichte des Mittelalters (Leiden: Brill, 2017).

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Katie Bugyis Photo By Tony Rinaldo 373px

Katie Bugyis (Ph.D. '15)

Assistant Professor, Program of Liberal Studies at Notre Dame

"[T]here is no other program in Medieval Studies in the world that prepares its graduate students as rigorously [...] as Notre Dame's Medieval Institute does. My confidence in the training I received at the MI has only become stronger since graduating from the program and interacting with other scholars in the field. I know that I can do more than simply hold my own wherever I go."

Bugyis is a specialist in the history of medieval religious women and liturgical practices and received her Ph.D. from the Medieval Institute in 2015 with a dissertation entitled "Ministers of Christ: Benedictine Women Religious in Central Medieval England," under the direction of esteemed scholars Margot Fassler and Kathryn Kerby-Fulton. Bugyis has been a prolific author since her graduation, in addition to holding two prestigious fellowships at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies and Harvard's Radcliffe Institute.

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Prof. Rachel Koopmans on scaffolding at Canterbury Cathedral

Rachel Koopmans (Ph.D. '01)

Associate Professor of History at York University and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada

"I find it especially gratifying that my research, started on the Hesburgh Library's seventh floor, is beginning to have an impact on the experience of the hundreds of thousands of visitors who tour Canterbury Cathedral every year."

Award-winning scholar Rachel M. Koopmans studied at the Medieval Institute under the tutelage of John Van Engen, a twice past director. In 2001 she earned her Ph.D. with a dissertation entitled, “Dispute, Control and Individual Voice: The Making of Miracles at Christ Church, Canterbury, 1080-1220.” This dissertation formed the foundation of her first book, Wonderful to Relate: Miracle Stories and Miracle Collecting in High Medieval England, published with the University of Pennsylvania Press in 2011. Koopmans is currently Associate Professor of History at the University of York in Toronto as well as Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and her recent work on the stain glass of Canterbury cathedral has earned her national attention in the United Kingdom and beyond. We asked Prof. Koopmans about her work after the MI and her fascinating work on medieval stained glass.

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Leslie Lockett

Leslie Lockett (Ph.D. '04)

Associate Professor of English and Associate Director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Ohio State University

“I’m both very nostalgic for Notre Dame and very grateful for what I got here as a graduate student. I got such good training while I was here that has equipped me to do work that I find really interesting and stimulating.”

Lockett is the author of Anglo-Saxon Psychologies in the Vernacular and Latin Traditions (University of Toronto Press, 2011) and several articles and book chapters on topics ranging from Anglo-Saxon Latinity, medieval mind-body theory, the history of the emotions, and the well-known Junius 11 manuscript, one of only four surviving codices of poetry from the Anglo-Saxon period (Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Junius 11). She is currently preparing an edition and translation of the Old English Soliloquies and Augustine’s Soliloquia that will appear in the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library series, and she was most recently a 2016-2017 fellow of the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study. We sat down with Professor Lockett to learn about her experience as a medievalist and university professor.

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Lou Jordan

Louis Jordan (Ph.D. '80)

Associate University Librarian, Hesburgh Libraries, University of Notre Dame

“Many libraries are now looking for individuals with advanced degrees and specialized skills. Candidates who also demonstrate interdisciplinary subject expertise have a distinct advantage. Language skills are also useful, particularly for those looking to work in cataloging or seeking a position as a collections curator in Rare Books and Special Collections.”

Dr. Jordan graduated from the Medieval Institute in 1980 with a dissertation on the iconography of death personified in western medieval art under the direction of the renowned scholar Bernard McGinn. In recent years, he has focused on integrating library services and collections into the teaching and research missions of Notre Dame. He is also an elected member of the Comité international de paléographie latine and a fellow of the American Numismatic Society. We asked him to share with us his journey from MI grad to veteran library administrator at one of the top twenty-five research universities in the United States.

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Nicole Eddy

Nicole Eddy (Ph.D. '12)

Managing Editor for the Medieval Library series at the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection

“That is the best part of my job, getting to work with books I am interested in and with people who are passionate about the same things I care about.”

Nicole Eddy has quickly blazed her own path since graduating from the Medieval Institute, finding her home in academic publishing. We asked Dr. Eddy to share the experience that has taken her from Ph.D. student writing on marginal annotation in medieval Romance manuscripts to Managing Editor of a prestigious series.

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Garrett Smith

Garrett R. Smith (Ph.D. '14)

Lifetime appointment as Akademischer Rat (Associate Professor), University of Bonn

"This is the job the MI trained me for, and it's pretty rare that this kind of thing comes along. It's the dream job.”

Garrett R. Smith has expertise in Latin text editing and the philosophy of Duns Scotus, and of Scholasticism more broadly. In 2014, he accepted a prestigious permanent appointment as Akademischer Rat at the Institut für Philosophie of the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn in Germany.

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