St. Catherine University Recognizes Denny Prize and Denny Award Honorees

Excellent writing and teaching among faculty and staff were recognized this week as St. Catherine University announced the honorees of the annual Denny Prize for Distinction in Writing and the Carol Easley Denny Award.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to the Denny family,” said Anita Thomas, PhD, executive vice president and Provost, St. Catherine University. “Generations of Katies - and that is no understatement - have benefitted from the Denny family’s dedication to the unique application of a liberal arts education taught here at St. Kate’s. Our graduates carry this knowledge out into the world, driven to make it a better place because of families like the Denny family.”

Denny Prize for Distinction in Writing

The Denny Prize for Distinction in Writing is an opportunity to recognize the caliber of writing our faculty and staff bring to the classroom and to St. Catherine University. The Denny family established an endowment 26 years ago to create this annual award in honor of their mother, Eleanor McCahill Denny, which recognizes a St. Kate's faculty or staff member for distinction in writing. Eleanor was greatly influenced by outstanding faculty during her years at St. Kate’s. She attributed her abiding love for books, for words, and for excellent writing to those faculty. 

More than 30 faculty and staff have been honored with a Denny Prize since its inception. These creative works have included poetry, essays, books, novels, short stories, memoirs, and more. Judges awarded a prize and honorable mention in each category this year.

Denny Prize Winners

For creative writing, judges selected a submission by Susan Welch: #MeToo 1943. Welch has been teaching literature in St. Kate’s English department since 1987. 

In the non-fiction/academic work category, judges awarded the prize to Colleen Carpenter, PhD, for her work, "But I Thought Love Was Supposed to Endure All Things": Domestic Violence, Discernment, and the Indissolubility of Marriage. Carpenter joined the theology department at St. Kate’s in 2006, after having spent several years as an independent scholar. 

Denny Prize Honorable Mentions

The creative writing honorable mention was awarded to Natasha Yates for her piece, Matisse and Eleven Year Old Boys. Natasha is an assistant professor of Education at St. Kate’s. The non-fiction/academic work honorable mention was awarded to John Welsh, M.N, RN, for his submission titled The Fear of Hastening Death: A Nurse’s Perspective. John is an adjunct faculty member in the BSN program.

Carol Easley Denny Award

The Carol Easley Denny Award recognizes excellence in teaching, research, and community service. It is named for the late Carol Easley Denny, wife of the late Charles M. Denny, Jr., trustee emeritus and former chair of St. Catherine University’s Board of Trustees. The Denny Award is considered one of St. Catherine University's most prestigious faculty development awards.

Julie Nelsen ’91, an associate professor teaching Business Administration, is this year’s Award recipient. Her project, titled “Investigating the Corporate Social Responsibility Reporting Standards of Minnesota’s Fortune 500 Companies,” will explore how Minnesota’s Fortune 500 companies report this impact and why they chose to communicate in that method. This research seeks to inform both practitioners and stakeholders regarding current reporting practices and decision-making in the CSR realm with the intention to improve overall CSR practices within organizations.

“The fact that these prizes and awards, and this legacy of recognition at St. Kate’s, are connected back to one student’s transformative higher education experience only underscores the vital importance of our daily work in higher education,” said Thomas. “It is both inspiring and humbling to read the winning entries — congratulations to this year’s awardees.”