Graduate School’s Cunningham named Cross Scholar for leadership promise

Author: Erin Blasko

Association of American Colleges and Universities

University of Notre Dame graduate student Tony Cunningham is among seven recipients of the 2018 K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award, presented annually to the most promising future leaders in higher education in the U.S.

Administered by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the Cross Award recognizes graduate students who show exemplary promise as future leaders of higher education; demonstrate a commitment to developing academic and civic responsibility in themselves and in others; and whose work reflects a strong emphasis on teaching and learning.

The award provides financial support for students to attend the AACU’s annual meeting, covering travel, lodging, registration and a one-year affiliation with the organization. This year’s meeting takes place Jan. 24-27 in Washington, D.C.

Cunningham, a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology, is currently completing his degree as a clinical intern at the VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System in Leavenworth, Kansas. His research focuses on the importance of sleep for memory and emotion regulation and how disrupted sleep may affect mood and cognition in a variety of clinical populations.

Cunningham is a two-time Notre Dame graduate, having earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University. He is a past recipient of the University’s Sister Jean Lenz, O.S.F., Leadership Award for his leadership in promoting a more diverse, inclusive campus for students.

He lives in Mishawaka, Indiana.

“I am thrilled to see Tony recognized for this prestigious award,” said Laura Carlson, vice president and associate provost and dean of the Graduate School. “I have known Tony throughout his graduate career in psychology and have long been impressed not only by his scholarship but also by his exceptional leadership activities: He co-created the Graduate Student, Spouse, and Significant Other Network, was a finalist in the Three Minute Thesis Competition, founded a neuroscience journal club, won awards for his direction of undergraduate researchers and presented his work on the importance of sleep to local high school athletes. 

“Tony models the leadership qualities graduate students can cultivate when they embrace social responsibility while embodying the Graduate School’s core belief that ‘your research matters,’” Carlson added.

The Cross award is open to all doctoral-level graduate students who are planning a career in higher education, regardless of academic department. This year’s recipients were selected from a pool of more than 200 nominees from 119 institutions.

The award honors the work of K. Patricia Cross, professor emerita of higher education at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of seven books on teaching, learning and assessment.

“This year’s group represents the emergent understanding of ‘inclusive excellence’ in American higher education,” Cross said. “They are serious and published researchers, award-winning teachers, campus leaders and catalysts for campus/community involvement. Their stories are amazingly diverse and, taken together, give us a vision of an American higher education that will serve our increasingly complex society.”

Contact: Erin Blasko, assistant director of media relations, 574-631-4127,