2014 Ignatius Award Recipients

Saint Ignatius Award Photo

The inscription on the reverse of the medallion reads:



The award was presented
at the President's Convocation,
February 4, 2014.

Michael LaCroix

Director, Reinert-Alumni Library

Ignatian Award Citation

Traditionally, libraries are silent places of research: "No talking out loud please."  Michael LaCroix, the Director of Creighton's Reinert- Alumni Library for the past nineteen years, speaks volumes in his quiet manner of living his mission of service.  Colleagues write "He is always kind and gentle to all while being an effective leader" and "Michael values the persons with whom he shares the creation of a library most helpful for students and faculty.  His spirit of reverence embraces each of his personnel so that all feel equally a part of the mission of the library and the University."

Michael respects the least-known as well as the well-known. "Michael has always had a good heart and is just a very good man." It is a little-known example of his gentle caring that recently he donated one of his kidneys to the daughter of one of the library's staff persons. This gift helped also to save the sight in one of the daughter's eyes. This quiet donation could be a cause for public celebration, but for Michael it was the normal and appropriate thing to do, of course.  As one person wrote when hearing about this medical offering, "He's the one who would do just that."

Michael and his wife Carol have opened their home to visiting international students; they assist these young people in experiencing American life.  At work too, Michael maintains an atmosphere of welcome and generous service.  It is not his library but ours.  The library's staff members respond to his care for them by serving us, students and faculty.  One former faculty writes reflecting on the spirit of the staff as expressing the sentiment "We want to do this for you."  Michael's approach, at once both professional and personal, combines caring stewardship for the contents of the library and care and guidance for those using the resources found there.

Michael has served as a member of the University Committee on Benefits and as Chair of the Committee for the Faculty Handbook and University Statutes.  Both assignments involve copious reading and careful attention to detail.  He is never lost in the details.  As one faculty member writes, "As I think of various hallmarks that are central to Creighton's mission, "Building Bridges", "One Creighton", "Cura Personalis"  and "Service for Others," Michael stands out as an iconic example of their essence."

"This man," another writes, "has gospel at his core. He has formed his staff according to his own spirit and sense of mission."  A faculty person writes, "I can say that Michael's leadership has produced a library that is truly one of the bright lights for both students and faculty.  Michael and his staff conduct themselves with what I would characterize as a personable professionalism that makes the library a welcome place.  The staff that Michael has assembled is deeply interested in the academic work in which we are engaged and eager to assist in any way they can."

Michael LaCroix may be hidden to many like a rare book, but his influence is quite legible in his works for our collective mission here at Creighton. The love of God is revealed in acts of love more than in printed words.  Michael labors in a spirit of love which does good deeds.  We at Creighton are grateful to our loving God for sharing this loving man of action with us all. We joyfully offer Michael LaCroix this St. Ignatius Award for 2014.






Dr. Eileen Wirth

Chair, Department of Journalism, Media and Computing

Ignatian Award Citation

If St.Ignatius would have had a daughter, it would have been Dr. Eileen Wirth.  One colleague comments:  "I can hear the hugs and laughter that come from her office when students or graduates stop by announced or not."  Through her open door enter students, faculty, and prospective families seeking her advice and encouragement.  No matter what they came desiring, they always get more of Eileen's personality, her love of learning, her passion for her profession, and her sense of belonging to our University. They leave her office knowing a religiously-motivated woman of spirit and action.

One colleague writes, "Education is a priority for Dr. Wirth, but she often takes on much more than her teaching role. She is also an advisor, mentor, friend, and colleague to many across campus.  Dr. Wirth is genuine in every role whether she is advocating for her department, meeting students' needs, wishing a student or faculty a Happy Birthday, or offering a simple good morning."  As Chairperson of the Department of Journalism, Media, and Computing, Eileen manifests a deep-felt love for all she does on behalf of the mission of Creighton University, her department persons, and those many students who find confirmation in her listening and responding.

One administrator writes, "Eileen can be counted on to participate in admitted-Student Days, C-U Sundays, and other recruiting events.  She also writes a blog with tips for being a successful Creighton student.  She even wrote a pamphlet on what to expect as a new Creighton faculty member."

Dr. Wirth has also published several books, most recently one dealing with Nebraska women in journalism.  She wrote "They Made All the Difference," a book revealing the impact of Jesuit high schools in the lives of various of their graduates.  Eileen has been active in the Omaha Press Club and in the Association of Jesuit Colleges and University's' Journalism group, whose annual meeting Eileen has hosted twice on Creighton's campus.  The same person writes, "Several other colleges and universities have asked her to speak about how she has transformed the Creighton University Journalism Department by integrating technology into their curriculum."

Eileen has moved the traditional Department of Journalism to The Department of Journalism, Media, and Computing which now offers students the opportunities to acquire excellence in traditional journalism as well as the technology to succeed in today's competitive world.  One person from Eileen's department writes, "I don't know of any other department that has the same sense of family among its students that is fostered by Eileen.  She knows all our majors, over two hundred of them, by name.  They know that Eileen cares for each of them.  Eileen works so enthusiastically in recruiting students to come to Creighton.  Many students decide to enroll here because of the warmth of Eileen's welcome to them and to their parents."  One alumna writes, "I went to see her with quite a burdened heart and she invited me to have lunch with her to talk things over.  Imagine that, a faculty member and Department Chair going to lunch with a messed-up student!"  Eileen has interiorized the spirit of Jesuit education and serves on Creighton's Mission committee.

Eileen once wrote of herself, "Sure, I've written five books and received an award or two, but the daily opportunity to work one-on-one with students, that's what keeps me going at seventy-five miles an hour.  I love this place and its students. I will leave when they carry me out of St. John's feet first."

One faculty person writes, "Eileen Wirth is a fervent champion, a cheerleader, a gentle challenger, and a passionate leader."  To meet Eileen, to grow to know her and be embraced by her generosity of spirit, is to receive a small, but accurate glimpse of the person who was St. Ignatius.  In gratitude to God for the gift to Creighton University of Dr. Eileen Wirth, we celebrate her by offering her the 2014 St. Ignatius Award.