On February 6, the School Sisters of Notre Dame presented Dr. Marylou Yam with the SSND 2018 Mission and Ministry Award. The award is given annually to an individual who exemplifies the spiritual values and educational vision of the School Sisters of Notre Dame.
As the Notre Dame community gathered to celebrate Notre Dame Day, an annual event to recognize the university’s common purpose and heritage, select members of the community were called one by one to be recognized for their exceptional work at the university. When Dr. Yam’s name was called for the SSND Mission and Ministry Award, she was elated and humbly received the award from Sister Sharon Slear, Interim Provost and Dean of the School of Education.
“I was deeply honored and moved to be presented with the SSND Mission and Ministry Award by the School Sisters of NDMU,” Dr. Yam expresses. “It is such a joy and privilege to work with the SSNDs and to continue to carry on the great legacy of this university.”
The SSND Mission and Ministry Award was first created and presented to Notre Dame’s faculty and staff in 1998. Since then, SSNDs would deliberate and nominate an individual who they believe is personally living out the values that Notre Dame is founded on. Past recipients include Dr. Brian Berry (2017), Donna Jenkins (2016), Dr. Debra Franklin (2015) and Dr. Joan Develin Coley (2014).
During the nomination process, SSNDs evaluate candidates based on five qualities: reverencing the dignity of each person; recognizing and encouraging others’ potential; supporting a wholesome work environment, a sense of unity and collaboration, a positive level of trust and open channels of communication; fosters a spirit of community that is welcoming and inclusive; and promotes, lives, and witnesses Gospel values.
For Sister Paula Dukehart, Notre Dame’s Coordinator of Mission Integration, Dr. Yam’s personality and actions met their criteria. For instance, Dr. Yam goes above and beyond in forming and maintaining strong bonds with the Notre Dame community—from students and alums to faculty and staff. “Marylou affirms the talents and abilities of people at Notre Dame,” Sister Paula explains. “We [SSNDs] see her commitment to them. She gathers with first-year students, makes her presence and participation known in community events, and continues to recognize the important contributions of faculty and staff here.”
Sister Mary Fitzgerald, a professor in the School of Education, shares a similar sentiment and notes that Dr. Yam incorporates SSND values to ensure that Notre Dame is an open and respectful environment to all. She believes that Notre Dame is flourishing with deep roots and flowering growth because of Dr. Yam’s God-centered and dedicated leadership.
“Since assuming the role of President, Marylou has made a concerted effort to learn as much as she can about SSND charism, mission, and heritage, particularly as it has been enfleshed at NDMU,” Sister Mary expresses. “She often refers to Trust and Dare, not just as a collection of the sayings of Blessed Theresa, but as the way of life at NDMU. As a University, we are where we are today because women of great love, deep faith, and constant trust took risks and persevered through some challenging times.”
Sister Paula agrees. “The SSND spirit and values are in her,” she says, “and they’re not just words she sits down and memorize. It’s all real and authentic as we see her striving to live them out daily.”