Ten members of the DePaul community to receive university's highest honor

By Richie Roesner and Wendy Smit
June 08, 2017

This year, 10 members of the DePaul community will receive the Via Sapientiae Award for their outstanding achievements and contributions to the university. The award is the highest academic honor that a member of the university community can receive. It recognizes both faculty and staff who have served at DePaul for at least 15 years and have made significant contributions to the university throughout their careers. 

The 10 honorees have played substantial roles in shaping the university we have come to know today. Whether it is through advocating for the implementation of new technology, creating new programs and colleges or preparing our graduates for the real world, DePaul is better because they shared their lives with our community. 

The Via Sapientiae Award is bestowed at the time of retirement or posthumously, with most of the recipients being honored at one of the six commencement ceremonies being held this year on June 10 and 11. 

Read more about each of the recipients:

Larry Bennett

Professor, Department of Political Science, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences


Bennett is an urban affairs scholar whose research and analysis of Chicago has influenced the city and informed public policy. His citizenship in the DePaul community for the last 40 years has had equal impact on the students he always found time to mentor, colleagues he consistently encouraged and the innumerable university committees on which he served. He routinely worked with first-generation and minority students to teach them the skills necessary to succeed at the university. He also served as an academic advisor to countless students seeking scholarships and fellowships, and to others seeking to enter law school or graduate school. Bennett's career as a scholar, educator and mentor embodies DePaul's mission and serves as an example to the students who have benefited from his tutelage, the colleagues in whom he instilled his values and passion for teaching, and the broader community that has gained insights from his research.

Darsie Bowden

Professor, Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences


For 26 years, Bowden has influenced the university's commitment to help students write critically in multiple contexts, for a range of purposes, and to a variety of audiences. Her scholarship, classroom instruction and service to the DePaul community benefited numerous students and she played an instrumental role in the creation of the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse as an academic unit in the college. She also took her citizenship in the DePaul community very seriously and served on several college and university committees. Though she was rigorous and demanding in the classroom, Bowden was supportive and encouraging of students and she became a mentor to many students who have since begun their own teaching careers. 

Helmut P. Epp

Professor, College of Computing and Digital Media, former Dean and former Provost


During his more than 40 years at the university, Epp had an extraordinary impact on DePaul, creating three colleges, recruiting talented scholars from across the nation and guiding the institution to embrace technological advances that continue to define the university today. As provost, he guided the university on an unprecedented campaign of modernization and expansion, creating two additional colleges - College of Communication in 2007 and the College of Science and Health in 2010 - and appointing eight deans. He led initiatives to improve the student experience and position DePaul for the technology revolution that many businesses and academic institutions were slow to recognize. He also was instrumental in developing the university's strategic alliance with Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, which streamlines entry for qualified DePaul students into the health professions. Though the administrative demands on his time made it impossible for him to teach in recent years, his influence continues to be felt in classrooms across the university.  

Gwyn Friend

Associate Vice President, University Marketing Communications 


Over the span of four decades, Friend has developed a multimillion-dollar, multichannel integrated marketing organization that has garnered accolades for DePaul from national leaders in higher education. Under her guidance, the department established innovative initiatives that ushered DePaul into the digital age and led to its continued success. The university's marketing activities have become a testament to her vision and were impactful because they were authentic, genuine, and always placed DePaul students at the forefront. Friend embodies DePaul's Vincentian ideals by leading with kindness, compassion and respect, and graciously mentoring colleagues in a way that will leave a lasting effect on the university for years to come.

Nancy Hill

Professor, School of Accountancy and Management Information Systems, Driehaus College of Business


Hill joined DePaul's School of Accountancy and Management Information Systems in 1990 after completing her PhD in accounting. Under Hill's leadership, the university made major strides in assessing and improving student learning. But her pioneering work in assessment went beyond merely creating and analyzing metrics. She was involved in developing many of the writing, technology, critical thinking and evaluative initiatives that were introduced, and in helping to institutionalize best practices. She also was instrumental in deploying a supplemental instruction program that has improved grades and reduced student withdrawals from some of the university's most difficult courses. In addition, she has served on or chaired countless departmental, college and university committees, and proved to be a valuable mentor to junior faculty during her time at DePaul.

Judy Iwata Bundra

Associate Dean, School of Music


Bundra leaves a noteworthy legacy at DePaul. As a classroom instructor, she offered students a challenging learning environment and nurtured their talent. Today, her students are leading music programs in schools across the country, and serving as mentors to the next generation of music students. As an administrator, she encouraged faculty members to pursue excellence in the classroom and refine their instructional approaches. And as interim dean of the School of Music, she helped to guide the school during challenging times, while creating a more formal academic structure and engaging its faculty in the school's mission. Her passion for music education has made her a sought-after speaker as an expert in the areas of music curriculum, assessment and arts integration, and helped DePaul to achieve the international recognition it enjoys today.

Donna Max

Special Assistant to the Provost


Since joining DePaul in 1995, Max has supported her DePaul colleagues with grace, generosity and absolute competence, making them feel assured and confident in all they do. Throughout her time with the university, she has served as special assistant to the last five provosts and she has supported 17 deans, four vice presidents and several more associate vice presidents. But her most important role has been as a behind-the-scenes sentinel supporting DePaul and its decision-makers. Her knowledge of where talent resides within the university has made decisions more inclusive. And her gentle, respectful persistence has ensured that actions taken and decisions made reflect what's best for DePaul. Max has touched many lives, influenced many decisions and enriched the entire DePaul community through her actions.

Patricia Monaghan

Professor, School for New Learning


One measure of a university is the degree to which it instills a lifelong passion for learning among students. For 16 years, Monaghan devoted herself to finding ways to reconnect DePaul's adult students with their sense of wonder through writing and personal development. She was passionate about creating innovative, interdisciplinary learning experiences for students, and equally committed to her citizenship in the DePaul community. She served on numerous committees and advocated the academic integration and collaboration for which DePaul's School for New Learning is internationally recognized. Monoghan passed away in 2012 at the age of 66.

Lucinda B. Rapp

Executive Assistant to the Dean


Rapp does more than embrace DePaul's Vincentian values. She lives them. She spent 32 years serving the DePaul community as a friendly sounding board, a shoulder to lean on and a willing advocate for students and faculty alike. Rapp joined DePaul in 1985 in the Department of Psychology and she soon became someone faculty and students identified as an effective problem solver and trusted resource. During her time in the department, Rapp was the caretaker of a small fund that a retired faculty member had unofficially created to help students in need. Though the informal financial aid was dismantled long ago, those micro-loans helped countless students through lean times. In 2011, she became the executive assistant to the dean in the newly formed College of Science and Health. Though her role in the dean's office took Rapp away from day-to-day contact with students, she remained dedicated to them through mentorship and providing support.

Brian Spittle

Assistant Vice President for the Center of Access and Attainment, Enrollment Management and Marketing


For nearly three decades, Spittle has devoted himself to making DePaul one of the nation's most dynamic institutions of higher learning by helping to attract and retain low-income and first-generation students, and creating programs to encourage their academic success. With an understanding that many of these undergraduates struggle to acclimate themselves to university environments, Spittle helped to design TRIO programs that provide eligible DePaul students with the academic, personal and community support to help them attain their degrees and enter their chosen careers. He also was influential in the implementation of a new admissions option in which standardized tests are not required. His efforts and commitment to students have nurtured the academic achievements and life-long success of countless DePaul graduates.