The Inaugural Kingfisher Award for 2019 recognized Creighton theology professor and documentary filmmaker John J. O’Keefe at the Presidential Town Hall and Kingfisher Award Ceremony in the Harper Auditorium on Sept. 10.
The highly esteemed award honors outstanding University faculty and staff committed to the Jesuit values, principles and practices of humanities through their hard work and devotion to students.
Creighton president the Rev. Daniel Hendrickson, S.J., presented the award, reading O’Keefe’s letters of nomination.
“Said one nominator of the awardee: ‘Each one of his many accomplishments might be something that a faculty member would do in one career, or maybe two. He continues to demonstrate extraordinary benefitting humanities time and again,’” Fr. Hendrickson read. “Said another: ‘We can think of no one on campus who has been more active in forming and sustaining the relationships and rich conversations that underpin true interdisciplinary humanities.’”
His nominators also highlighted his “participation in publicly engaged teaching and scholarship” and “new ways to integrate humanities with other disciplines.”
“I’m proud of his leadership at Creighton and nationwide,” Hendrickson said.
Receiving a $5,000 grant to further his research as well as a Kingfisher statuette, O’Keefe’s many accomplishments include co-founding Creighton’s Backpack Journalism program, filming multiple documentaries regarding social justice, co-hosting a podcast called “Catholic Comments” which reaches hundreds of thousands of listeners, and a project he is currently working on where he is “deep mapping” the Nebraska Sandhills.
“I am profoundly humbled and grateful for this honor,” O’Keefe said as he accepted the award. “And my inclination is to stay silent, for really can one say in minutes anything that would not fail to capture the fullest context in which an award like this is possible? …The great gift that being part of this University community has been for me.”
“The best part of the job is that it is so interesting. I consider myself to be incredibly fortunate to have landed here.”