Robert Sedlack Wins The Sheedy Excellence in Teaching Award

Author: Dept. Staff

Robert P. Sedlack, Jr., Associate Professor of Design, is the recipient of the 2015 Sheedy Excellence in Teaching Award. This award, bestowed annually on a faculty member in the College of Arts and Letters, is named for the Rev. Charles E. Sheedy, C.S.C., a much-beloved former dean of the College. It recognizes a faculty member who has demonstrated sustained excellence in teaching, informed by research, over a wide range of courses while employing innovative and creative teaching methods.  (For more information on this prestigious award, including a list of former winners, see:

Robert Sedlack graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1989 with a BFA in Graphic Design. He returned to the University as a one-year visitor in the Fall of 1998. After visiting for three years, he was offered a tenure track position and earned tenure in 2007.

The letters written by those who nominated him and supported his candidacy for this award spoke eloquently of how Robert “enlivens a spirit of curiosity, of creative ingenuity” in his students and how he encourages them “to become better students, designers, and individuals.” They talk of his passion for his subject as well as his desire to create a warm, comfortable, and engaging environment for his students.  One writer stated: “His ‘can-do’ attitude is drilled into his students in a profound way, while his humility allows students to own their work. He is a master facilitator of learning – striking that delicate balance between strong direction and complete freedom for exploration.”

Robert'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. As a professional graphic designer, he is responsible for consultation service, design, and execution of a wide variety of print and interactive projects to the business and cultural community.

When he returned to Notre Dame seventeen years ago, Robert began to reach out to local organizations that he believed would benefit from better design. Some of these organizations included Take Ten, St. John the Baptist and St. Adalbert schools, the Civil Rights Heritage Center, the Juvenile Justice Center, and the Center for the Homeless. These organizations and others served as clients for his classes. In recognition of this community outreach, Robert was awarded the 2015 Ganey Faculty Community-Based Research Award.

Moreover, Robert, in collaboration with students and others, has been greatly involved in major projects in South Africa. In 2011, he and his students developed several projects designed to effect change on the issue of xenophobia, and this collaborative work has resulted in a $50,000 Sappi Ideas that Matter grant to together+ (for more information on this project, see:  Similarly, in 2013, he traveled with a team of students to Johannesburg, and together they created a design campaign to help South Africans with HIV/AIDS to “live positively” (see:

In addition to the recent Ganey award, Robert has received 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. Robert also served as lead author for Graphics and Visual Communications for Managers (second edition 2008, Thomson-Southwestern). Additionally, the South Bend Museum of Art hosted a one-person exhibition of his work, “Multiple Identities: Recent Work by Robert Sedlack.” Finally, Sedlack recently won the Rev. Anthony J. Lauck, C.S.C, Award, which recognizes an alumnus/ae for his or her outstanding accomplishments or achievements.