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Home > Faculty and Research > Rodney F. Ganey, Ph.D. Faculty Community-Based Research Award

Ganey Faculty Community-Based

Research Award 2015



Robert Sedlack, MFA




Ann-Marie Conrado Anne Berry



Program of Design


Elizabeth Capdevielle



John Duffy
Ed Kelly Jillian Snyder  



Stories to be Told



The Ganey Research Award is a $5,000 prize presented annually to a regular faculty member who has completed at least one research project that addresses a need within South Bend or the surrounding area.

Previous Award Recipients



Nominees should be regular faculty* (as described below) who have completed at least one research project that contributes to resolving a social challenge within South Bend or the surrounding area.

Greater consideration will be given if the community-based research project or projects for which the individual is nominated:

  • address a question raised by a community group or organization;

  • involve collaboration with a local group or organization;

  • include graduate and/or undergraduate students.

In addition, the nominee should have a record of publication in his/her field, or other forms of evidence of work valued in his/her area of expertise (juried exhibitions, distributed films, etc.).

The nominator should submit a letter describing how one research project, or a representative project from a larger body of work, has affected the South Bend area and Notre Dame students. Nominators may include Notre Dame faculty, students, and staff, or individuals not affiliated with Notre Dame.

Nominees should be regular faculty (teaching-and-research faculty, research faculty, library faculty, and special professional faculty) or emeritus faculty. Individuals may nominate themselves.

Questions or comments about the award,

please contact Mary Beckman.

* Regular Faculty includes Teaching-and-Research Faculty, Research Faculty, Library Faculty, and Special Professional Faculty, as described in the Faculty Handbook. Faculty holding emeritus status may be nominated.


Rodney F. Ganey, Ph.D.

Rodney F. Ganey, Ph.D., who is funding this award, served as Associate Director of Notre Dame's Laboratory for Social Research and as a Concurrent Faculty member in the Department of Sociology from 1980 to 1996. During that time, he encouraged community-based research initiatives of fellow Faculty members and graduate students in many ways. Ganey is founder of Press, Ganey Associates, the nation's leading research firm specializing in patient-satisfaction measurement. This award is one element of an initiative in community-based research through the Center for Social Concerns that Dr. Ganey has established as a way of deepening the University's stated commitment to place learning at the service of society.


Robert Sedlack, MFA


Talk with people who have worked on design projects with Robert Sedlack, associate professor of visual design in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design, and you might get the impression that he is really a community builder whose medium is visual design. Those who have collaborated with him often begin by talking about design and end up talking about communication, understanding others, and creating community. Sedlack himself describes design as a two-tiered practice that can ultimately lead to shaping culture. “At its basic level, graphic design is the combination of type and image used to communicate a message visually, most often for clients to specific audiences,” he explains. “In a broader and more profound sense, graphic design is a culture-shaping force that has the ability to powerfully effect change.”

Sedlack’s collaborators also say that he has helped them see things they did not see before working with him. “Robert and his class helped us see things that were right in front of us that we simply weren’t seeing,” says Peter Morgan, executive director at the St. Joseph Probate Court and Juvenile Justice Center (JJC). “He helped us look again to think about seeing things from a different viewpoint and it’s made for us a big difference in the way that we work.”

Like Morgan, those who work with Sedlack hardly ever talk about him alone; they talk about him and his students together, and that is no accident. When Sedlack talks about his work he almost always uses the first person plural, and he almost always talks about those he is working with as collaborators. When describing his local work on the Center for History, the Civil Rights Heritage Center, the JJC, and the Center for the Homeless, he says, “I hope we’re helping all those people out, all those organizations out. I wouldn’t call them clients, I would call them collaborators because they’re involved in the whole process and that makes a huge difference.”

Sedlack’s community building begins with the students in his Graphic Design 3: Design for Social Good class and expands outward to include community partners in South Bend, Indiana, South Africa, and Haiti. In seventeen years at Notre Dame, he and his classes have worked on projects designed to address xenophobia and HIV/AIDS in South Africa, give people in South Bend a more well-developed image of who the homeless are, and change the impression that the Juvenile Justice Center makes on both offenders and their families. It is for the JJC project that he is this year’s recipient of the Ganey Research Award.

Morgan explains that he was stumped when Sedlack first approached him about working with the JJC and said, “I’m a professor of design; our students might be able to work with you.” “I didn’t get it,” says Morgan, who couldn’t figure out how design could improve the work of the JJC. And then Sedlack and his students met with Morgan and his staff and began to ask questions about the physical space, client communications, and how they used technology. Those meetings began to give those who work at the JJC a sense of how the building, letters, and signs were all communicating with those who entered the facility whether or not they knew it.

“Everything they did surprised me,” says Morgan. He and his staff had noticed that juvenile offenders and they’re families often assumed a defensive attitude toward them from the time they walked through the doors. The staff understood their role as assisting juvenile offenders through a difficult period, educating them, and helping them onto a path that would lead back into society and in the direction of flourishing. Offenders and their families saw the JJC as only punitive.

Sedlack and his students helped the JJC to see what in the building and communications such as court letters were conveying the message of punishment and obscuring the message of assistance. “They looked at the communications that we send out every day,” says Morgan, “made us think about how somebody who receives this would feel, what would be their first impression. Starting there they helped us to rethink it entirely.” Soon the JJC staff and Sedlack’s students were generating various ideas about how to communicate the message that they are there for the good of the offenders and their families. They made a video explaining offenders’ rights and set up two monitors to play the video in the lobby of the JJC; they redesigned the logo and print materials of the JJC to communicate the idea that its purpose is to help offenders; and they repainted and stenciled meeting rooms to make severe, institutional spaces more warm and hospitable.

Robert Sedlack is associate professor, Visual Communication Design in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design at the University of Notre Dame. Professor Sedlack’s academic research is focused on the life-changing impact that design can have when applied appropriately and collaboratively with organizations dedicated to social betterment. He gravitates toward projects that heighten the awareness of and reliance on graphic design to help achieve broad-based social and cultural advancement throughout the world community. In addition to receiving recognition from HOW, Graphis, Print, and the American Association of Museums, he was included in Graphic Design USA magazine’s list of “People to Watch” and was recognized by the Indianapolis Peace Institute with a Cornerstone Peacebuilding Award. Sedlack served as lead author for “Graphics and Visual Communications for Managers” (second edition 2008, Thomson-Southwestern).



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