Karen Eifler, co-director of University of Portland Garaventa Center and education professor, receives 2015 Spirit of Holy Cross Award

Garaventa Center

Awards and Rankings

September 16, 2015

Karen Eifler, a professor in the University of Portland’s School of Education and co-director of the Garaventa Center for Catholic Intellectual Life and American Culture at UP, has received a 2015 Spirit of Holy Cross Award. The award is given annually to lay collaborators of the Congregation of Holy Cross, United States Province of Priests and Brothers. The award  recognizes lay collaborators who devotedly work to make Blessed Basil Moreau’s vision and mission to “make God known, loved, and served” a reality at the Congregation’s education, parish and mission apostolates.

Eifler, who has won virtually every award for teaching, scholarship and service that the University offers, co-directs the Garaventa Center along with Rev. Charles B. Gordon, C.S.C.

“Karen is a tireless collaborator in the Holy Cross mission at UP and beyond,” said Fr. Gordon “Karen is a poster child for the zeal urged by Father Moreau. She is a perpetual generator of new ideas and audacious plans for mission with a gift for bringing them to fruition. She sifts human experience for evidence of Grace, sharing her discoveries with Gospel joy.”

“Karen is also a relentless fomenter of cooperation between academic departments and a passionate advocate for the St. John’s Bible and a promoter and innovator of the contemplative prayer form, visio divina,” adds Fr. Gordon. “She is a mentor to younger academic colleagues and a faithful spiritual director. She is a rememberer of birthdays and a perpetrator of countless kindnesses who embodies the Spirit of Holy Cross.”

Eifler is widely published in her field and has earned several academic awards in recent years, including the first national Collegium Visionary Award in 2014, University of Portland’s Culligan Medal for Faculty Service in 2014, Deans' Award for Faculty Leadership and “Outstanding Teaching” in 2000. In 2007, she received the Judith Ramaley Faculty Award for Service-Learning from Campus Compact.

She has taught educational psychology, literacy, classroom assessment and management and supervised dozens of new teachers conducting their first field work. She also coordinated a mentoring program with the Bridge Builders, using the talents of University of Portland students preparing to become teachers. And she is co-founder of the University’s Faith and Intellectual Life Group, a creative faculty and staff seminar for spiritual and spirited debate.

Eifler has a bachelor’s degree (magna cum laude) from the University of California at Los Angeles. She earned her teaching credentials at Holy Names College in Oakland, Calif., and a doctorate from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, Neb.

“In living the mission set forth by Blessed Basil Moreau, we recognize that we do not embark on the journey alone,” said Rev. Thomas O’Hara, C.S.C., provincial superior of the United States Province of Priests and Brothers, to mark the Solemnity of Our Lady of Sorrows. “In every place we find ourselves, we find at the same time, men and women who generously give their own time and talents to aid us in our efforts.”

The 2015 award recipients are:

  • Susan Simmonds, executive assistant, Provincial Office (South Bend, Ind.)
  • Scott Malpass, vice president and chief investment officer, University of Notre Dame (South Bend, Ind.)
  • Karen Eifler, professor, School of Education at the University of Portland and co-director of the Garaventa Center for Catholic Intellectual Life and American Culture
  • Robert Ell, retired, first director of alumni relations at King's College and first recipient of the Robert J. Ell Award for Outstanding Service to Alma Mater (’50) (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)
  • Jim and Louise Kenneally, faculty, administrators and staff, Stonehill College (Easton, Mass.)
  • Linda Jones, business manager, Holy Cross Parish (South Bend, Ind.)

The Holy Cross community at University of Portland will formally honor Eifler at a Mass and a dinner in January 2016 as part of the celebrations of Blessed Moreau’s life (Father Moreau died on January 20, 1873 in Le Mans, France). Honorees will receive a proclamation of gratitude signed by Provincial Superior Fr. Tom O’Hara on behalf of the entire U.S. Province.


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