Meet this year's Via Sapientiae Award honorees

Via Saps 2018
President A. Gabriel Esteban, Ph.D., presented the Via Sapientiae awards to the honorees at the Distinguished Service Awards luncheon on May 15. Back row, left to right: President A. Gabriel Esteban, Jay Braatz, James Belohlav, Lynne Copp, Maureen Talbot, Linda Buchanan. Font row, left to right: Josephine Esteban, Jessica Hallam, Leslie Shook, Gayle Mindes, Peggy Burke, and Robert Cavanagh. (DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)
This year, 11 members of the DePaul community received the university's highest honor, the Via Sapientiae Award, for their extraordinary professional contributions as faculty and staff.  

The awardees - most who have served the university for more than 30 years - are responsible for shaping the past, present and future of DePaul. They are consummate advocates of the university, exemplify Vincentian values, embody DePaul's mission and place student success at the forefront of their work. 

The Via Sapientiae Award is bestowed at the time of retirement or posthumously, and was celebrated at this year's Distinguished Service Awards luncheon on May 15.

Read more about this year's recipients:

James Belohlav
Professor of Management, Driehaus College of Business

As an educator and researcher at the Driehaus College of Business, Belohlav inspired generations of students and influenced academic thought about the strategic design of organizations and the impact of culture and values on an organization's operations. In his 37 years of service at DePaul, Belohlav was a remarkably influential voice in maintaining DePaul's own distinctive culture and a consistent contributor to the mission of this university. During his tenure, he served on numerous committees and councils at all levels of the university. His distinctive and extraordinary service was an important part of the life of his college and the university as a whole.

Jeffrey Bergen
Professor of Mathematical Sciences, College of Science and Health

Until his recent passing in March, Bergen was a dedicated teacher, respected colleague and truly embodied DePaul's mission and Vincentian values in his work. For more than 37 years, he served the university in many important roles. He directed the Master of Arts in Mathematics Education Program and served on numerous university committees. He consistently shared his vast knowledge of mathematics by authoring books, monographs and approximately 70 scholarly papers. Over the years, he became well-known as the media guru for interviews explaining the mathematical odds of picking a perfect March Madness bracket. Ever a generous colleague, he routinely went out of his way to help others. As a teacher, Bergen was devoted to the success of his students and inspired them with his passion for mathematical sciences. 

Jay Braatz
Chief of Staff and Vice President for Planning and Presidential Administration

Braatz's sound leadership and strategic vision have provided the foundation on which the university will build its future. When Braatz arrived at DePaul 14 years ago, she identified opportunities to support the university president by hiring a high-functioning staff to streamline operations and aligned data-gathering at DePaul, which resulted in impeccable, consistent and easily visualized reporting. As the president's Chief of Staff and Vice President for Planning and Presidential Administration, she has consistently provided sage advice and valuable counsel to assist the president in advancing university goals. Braatz gracefully and efficiently led the university through the immense task of creating strategic plans. She supported the implementation of Vision 2012 and led the process to develop Vision 2018 and now, 2024. And in the face of competing ambitions, her strategic resolutions and subtle diplomacy always revealed a path forward. 

Linda Buchanan
Associate Dean, The Theatre School

For more than 27 years, Buchanan's work at The Theatre School has been transformative for the training of theatre artists. Her ability to empower designers to inform their personal understanding of the world of the play, and then use that understanding to inform their designs, has had a significant impact. As a professor, Buchanan has mentored countless scenic designers whose work is now on display across the country and around the world. In her service as an associate dean, she developed support structures to empower the work of adjunct faculty and orchestrated the liberal studies theatre courses offered to students across the university. Major university events, such as the Centennial Celebration, Capital Campaign Kickoff, Taize Pilgrimage at DePaul and the inaugurations for two university presidents, were more vibrant because Buchanan lent her expert design skills to them. 

Margaret Burke
Associate Vice President for Student Development

As a Double Demon, Burke has had a strong foundation and inherent institutional knowledge that would inform the important work she would do to help build the Division of Student Affairs from the ground up. For more than 33 years, she graciously served the university and our students in many critical roles, most recently serving as the Associate Vice President for Student Development. Over the years, Burke's dedication, integrity, loyalty, valued counsel and consummate professionalism have earned her the respect of all who have had the pleasure of working with her. While she has impacted the lives of thousands of our students through her work, some of her most notable accomplishments include her contributions to the implementation of the First Year Experience Program in the 1990s, particularly the Chicago Quarter courses, and her participation in DePaul's North Central Accreditation Self Study. 

Robert Cavanagh
Psychologist, University Counseling Services

For more than 35 years, Cavanagh has made this university a safe and welcomed space for our students and their families with his extraordinary service as a psychologist and counselor. Since Cavanagh began working as a psychologist in 1982, he has served in many different crucial roles across the university. Under his leadership, the UCS practicum program more than doubled in size and grew in reputation as one of the most robust clinical training programs for college mental health in Chicago. His gentle demeanor, coupled with his seasoned professionalism and astute ability to ground people has helped many students overcome challenges, remain in the DePaul community, graduate and prepare for their rightful place in the world. As a respected colleague, Cavanagh routinely placed others before himself and generously offered to take on additional responsibilities to help those around him. 

Lynne Copp
University Internship Program Faculty Director, Career Center

During Copp's time working as a curator of experiential learning opportunities and Faculty Director of the University Internship Program, Copp kept student success at the forefront of her work. Throughout her 15 years, Copp expanded the program from one to nine courses, making it the university's largest internship program. Her stewardship of the program included the expansion to two-credit courses, the move to hybrid and fully online courses, development of new course topics, implementation of the Internship Plu$ Program, and the hiring of faculty who are committed to our students' success. Because of her work, DePaul students are graduating with real-world experiences in their portfolios and are prepared to be successful contributors in today's workforce. Copp's thoughtful leadership and generosity made faculty and staff proud to call her a colleague. 

Jessica Hallam
Director of Commencement, Office of University Events

For more than 40 years, Hallam has been a steadfast advocate for DePaul. Beginning as a clerk in the Lincoln Park Campus bookstore, she worked her way up to serve as manager for the university's bookstore operations. In 2001, she joined the Office of the Secretary and helped establish the core functions of a revitalized unit. When Hallam moved to the Office of the President in 2004, her unparalleled knowledge of the university, its operations and its personnel were invaluable to Father Holtschneider. Hallam performed her work with enthusiasm, personalism and a no-nonsense professionalism. In 2016, she joined the Office of the Secretary to plan the presidential inauguration and reimagine the university's commencement ceremonies. During that time, Hallam also helped to establish the new Office of University Events. 

Gayle Mindes
Professor, College of Education

Since joining DePaul in 1993, Mindes has been a faculty member, interim dean, associate dean, department chair and has also served as program director for early childhood education in the College of Education. In unparalleled service to her college, she contributed to the design of several College of Education programs, including the doctoral program, and served on more than 30 college committees. Mindes has routinely received commendations for her thoughtful engagement, keen follow-through and adherence to university principles and mission. A true believer in the power and promise of partnership, she has dedicated time and talent to more than 50 community and academic organizations, charities and foundations. As a tireless advocate for the early childhood care and education profession, Mindes effected legislation and policy at the local, state and national levels. 

Leslie Shook
Theatre Manager, The Theatre School

Shook's work as a staff member at The Theatre School for 36 years has influenced hundreds of students and reached hundreds of thousands of audience members. As Theatre Manager, she oversaw front-of-house operations, educational outreach, subscriber services and access services for programming in the Merle Reskin Theatre and, since 2013, public programming in The Theatre School's new facility in Lincoln Park. She has inspired her colleagues as a fierce and steadfast advocate and leader for access services within The Theatre School and the local Chicago theatre community. Driven by that passion, Shook helped create and manage The Theatre School's sign language interpreted performances, audio description performances and touch-tour programs. As founding head of the BFA Theatre Management program, she helped create, lead and teach the program for 20 years. 

Maureen Talbot 
Senior Associate Director of Financial Aid, Enrollment Management and Marketing

For 40 years, Talbot has been the cornerstone of compassion, competence and conscience in DePaul's Office of Financial Aid. Her clear thinking, sound judgement, depth of knowledge and integrity were critical to the success of the department, especially during times of shrinking resources and restrictive Federal Financial Aid regulations. Talbot's influence also has extended well beyond DePaul; under her guidance, DePaul's comprehensive Policy and Procedures manual for Financial Aid has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a model for other universities to follow. Most importantly, over the years, hundreds of thousands of prospective and current students and their families have benefitted from her professional practice and personal passion. For many students, Talbot was singularly responsible for moving a DePaul education from possibility to reality, from dream to degree, and from aspiration to accomplishment.