Max & Emma Lecture Series

A loving memory leads to a lecture series

EmmaEmma. Painting by Brooke Vertin

By human standards, Max Jensen's life was short—just 17 years. But for a feline, it's a life that extended well into the "golden years"—and a life that will impact art students at Notre Dame for decades.

In memory of his beloved pet, economics professor Rich Jensen commissioned artist Barb Roche to paint a portrait of Max that he presented in 2006, to his wife, Gay Dannelly, a Hesburgh Libraries administrator, as a Valentine's Day surprise. Rather than accept payment for the portrait, however, Barb Roche suggested that Jensen and his wife donate the money to Notre Dame's art department. Jensen and Dannelly chose to fund a lecture series that brings prominent speakers to campus for special presentations and meetings with students, which both enriches the intellectual life of the department and directly benefits students.

MaxMax. Painting by Barb Roche

"What we liked was the idea of having distinguished guests who would be on campus long enough to interact with the students as well as give a lecture," according to Jensen.

The Max and Emma Endowment for Excellence was created and the inaugural Max and Emma lecture took place in April 2007. (Emma, another beloved Dannelly-Jensen cat, died the summer after Max's portrait was presented to Dannelly. Art student Brooke Vertin, painted Emma's commemorative portrait.) The first lecture brought noted design historian and critic Victor Margolin to Notre Dame. Margolin gave a public lecture titled "The Challenge of Social Design." He also held meetings with design students and faculty during his visit.

Max & Emma Lecturer History

2007-2008 Victor Margolin Professor Emeritus of Design History - University of Chicago
2008-2009 Chip Kidd
Frank Baseman
Associate Art Director - Random House
Principal - Baseman Design Associates
2009 - 2010 John Paoletti   Kenan Professor of the Humanities, Emeritus and Professor of Art History, Emeritus - Wesleyan University
2010 - 2011 Mark Randall
Andrea Pellegrino
Assistant Professor of Strategic Design and Management - The New School
Partner and Director of Social Innovation and Strategic Partnerships - Worldstudio
2011 - 2012 John Bielenberg Entrepreneur and Design Thinker
2012 - 2013 Emily Pilloton Designer, Builder, Educator, Author, Founder - Project H Design
2013 - 2014 Mark Dion Sculptor, Installation Artist, Mentor - Columbia University, NY, Co-Director - Mildred's Land Foundation
2014 - 2015 James Fathers Director, School of Design; Chair, Design Leadership; Professor, Industrial and Interaction Design -  Syracuse University
2015 - 2016 Cécile Whiting Professor of Art History & Visual Studies - University of California at Irvine
2016-2017 Eddie Opara Partner - Pentagram
2017-2018 Wendy White Self-Employed Artist - Painter
2018 - 2019 Hannah B. Higgins Professor of Art History and Director of the IDEAS program - University of Illinois, Chicago