Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams ’93 received the National Basketball Coaches Association’s 2021 Michael H. Goldberg Coach of the Year award. The honor, chosen by a vote of NBA coaches, recognizes success on the court and in community service. Williams led the Suns from a last-place finish in the Western Conference in 2019 to the No. 2 seed in the playoffs this year, an improvement over three seasons accomplished only twice before in the league in the previous 45 years. . . .
The documentary Pray: The Story of Patrick Peyton chronicles the life of the Holy Cross priest and 1937 Notre Dame graduate whose faithful enthusiasm was at the heart of a media ministry that attracted millions of followers. Known as “The Rosary Priest,” Peyton popularized the mantra, “the family that prays together, stays together.” Rev. David Guffey, CSC, ’84, ’90M.Div., the national director of Peyton’s Family Theater Productions, which produced Pray, received a 2021 Christopher Award for the film. Presented since 1949, the Christophers honor creative work that “affirms the highest values of the human spirit.” Pray also received a Gabriel Award for Best Documentary from the Catholic Media Association. . . . Kathleen Andrews ’63M.S., a longtime Notre Dame trustee and the first woman to serve as a University fellow, died in April at age 84. Andrews served as vice chairman of Andrews McMeel Universal, co-founded in 1970 by her husband, Jim Andrews ’61, who died in 1980. The company, now the world’s largest independent newspaper syndicate, has distributed comics such as Doonesbury, Ziggy, The Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes, along with reporting, lifestyle and opinion columns, magazines, books and calendars. In The New York Times, Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, CSC, ’76, ’78M.A., recalled that “Kathleen combined strength with her characteristic kindness. While others might raise their voices, I remember Kathleen telling me, with her warm smile, that one of my decisions was plain wrong.” . . . At both Notre Dame and Duke universities, Nina King ’00 served as a deputy to athletic director Kevin White. Now King will succeed him, becoming the first woman and person of color to lead Duke’s athletic department. King, an accounting major at Notre Dame who managed the women’s swimming and diving team as an undergraduate, went on to earn a law degree at Tulane. She served at Notre Dame as director of rules education from 2005 to ’08, when she joined White at Duke. . . .
Cmdr. Kelechi Ndukwe ’02 became the first Nigerian-American to skipper a U.S. Navy warship when he took command in April of the USS Halsey, a guided missile destroyer, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii. Ndukwe, who was previously the Halsey’s second-in-command, has served on multiple warships deployed to the Mediterranean Sea, the Horn of Africa, the Arabian Gulf and the western Pacific Ocean. Ashore, he has worked in the Navy Office of Legislative Affairs as a congressional liaison. . . .
Architect and curator Terence Riley ’78, remembered in a Times obituary as “instrumental in bringing to fruition two of the most important works of 21st-century museum architecture,” died suddenly in May at age 66. Riley guided the 2004 expansion of New York’s Museum of Modern Art and later oversaw a new home for the Pérez Art Museum Miami. He curated important architectural exhibitions and maintained an architectural practice at the firm Keenen/Riley. “Terry loved design, but he also loved the often-complicated process of getting things built,” his business partner John Keenen told the Times. “He had more patience than I ever did, as well as the mind and people skills to see things through.” . . . Sculptor Jerry McKenna ’62 has rendered many familiar Fighting Irish figures in bronze; his works honoring championship football coaches and other Notre Dame legends adorn the campus. McKenna also has bestowed his artistic gifts on the people of Ireland, where his subjects include hurler Ollie Walsh, tenor Frank Patterson and Saint André Bessette. For his contributions to Irish culture and heritage, McKenna has received the Clans of Ireland Order of Merit, a distinction whose previous recipients include current and past Ireland presidents Michael D. Higgins and Mary McAleese. . . . Hired in 2014 as the first K-4 teacher at Nativity Jesuit Academy, Vanessa Solis ’17M.A. helped establish the curriculum, then became director of elementary education and in 2018 was named principal of the Milwaukee school. Her years of “groundbreaking” work and leadership during the pandemic have led to another promotion, this time to president. “I am continuously impressed by her thoughtfulness, humility and intentional decision-making,” said Jay Schwister, chair of Nativity’s board of trustees. “As our first Latina president, Vanessa is starting a new chapter in Nativity’s history and it is a privilege to serve alongside her in our mission.” . . .
Poet Kimberly Blaeser ’82M.A., ’90Ph.D., a member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, has received the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas. Blaeser, who grew up on the White Earth Reservation, is the author of five volumes of poetry and a former poet laureate of Wisconsin. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor is also a faculty member at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and founding director of In-Na-Po — Indigenous Nations Poets.