PHOTO: Michael Novak is pictured with Dr. McDonnell and his wife, Maria. (photo by Katie Miller)
Ave Maria University music department chair Timothy McDonnell was praised by fellow students and by noted author Michael Novak Wednesday night as he was presented with the third Laub-Novak award for excellence in teaching in the humanities.
"Dr. McDonnell may be the single best ambassador of the university, taking his artists to the Naples Philharmonic and the schools and churches of the larger Naples community," said Mr. Novak in presenting the award named for his late wife, the artist Karen Laub-Novak. "His insistence on excellence is obvious to all who are thrilled by the many musical events presented throughout the year. How can we thank him enough for helping to make Ave Maria a home for beauty, a place in which artistic expression, creativity, and mastery thrive" (pictured, Dr. McDonnell at right with his wife, Maria, and Mr. Novak - photo by Katie Miller)
Dr. McDonnell's accomplishments directing the Ave Maria University chorus was cited by Myra Daniels as a major factor in her decision to help raise money for a new performing arts center on the AMU campus.
As with the previous Laub-Novak award presentations, tributes from current and former students were read and the gathering was treated to performances from some of them.
"On the whole, Dr. McDonnell's contribution to the life of AMU is, frankly, immeasurable," wrote one student, "but for me his gifts to the community were those evenings of festivity, liturgy, reverence, and sheer beauty. It was the beauty of the many facets of what Ave Maria University strives to be, unified in a single moment that turned and unfolded time- a terrible and wonderful thing to behold which each time left me moved, chastised, and consoled."
The Laub-Novak award is a private initiative of Mr. Novak's family foundation. The award began this year, with the first presentation to AMU literature professor Michael Raiger and the second to Travis Curtright, AMU's director of Humanities and Liberal Studies and the creator of the popular Shakespeare in Performance course.
For another look at Dr. McDonnel, see Ave Herald Editor Patricia Sette's November, 2012, column in the Naples Daily News Collier Citizen.