American studies alumna Melinda Henneberger ’80 wins Pulitzer Prize

Author: Kate Garry

Melinda HennebergerMelinda Henneberger

Melinda Henneberger, a 1980 University of Notre Dame alumna and columnist for the Sacramento Bee, won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, journalism’s highest honor. 

Henneberger was honored for “persuasive columns demanding justice for alleged victims of a retired police detective accused of being a sexual predator,” pieces she wrote while working as vice president and editorial page editor for The Kansas City Star.

In addition to her win this year, Henneberger was a Pulitzer finalist in each of the last three years — for commentary in 2021, for editorial writing in 2020, and for commentary in 2019. She received the Mike Royko Award for Commentary and Column Writing from the News Leaders Association in 2019 and the Scripps Howard Walker Stone Award for Opinion Writing in 2018.

Henneberger, who majored in American studies at Notre Dame, went on to complete a graduate degree in European studies from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. 

She worked as a reporter for several major newspapers, including 10 years at The New York Times in New York, Washington, D.C., and Rome. She has also been a visiting fellow at the Catholic University of America’s Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies and a fellow at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy.

Alumni of Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters have now won Pulitzer Prizes three out of the last four years.

Nikole Hannah-Jones ’98, an investigative reporter for The New York Times Magazine, won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, for her introductory essay to The 1619 Project. Hannah-Jones, who majored in history and Africana studies, returned to Notre Dame in April to give Notre Dame’s 2022 Red Smith Journalism Lecture and the inaugural Initiative on Race and Resilience Sojourner Truth Lecture.

In 2019, political science and economics alumnus Carlos Lozada won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for commentary. Lozada ’93 is the nonfiction book critic for the Washington Post and also teaches in the University’s Washington Program. In 2022–23, he will be a practitioner-in-residence at the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study.

Originally published by Kate Garry at on June 07, 2022.