June 28, 2011

MARCO ISLAND, Fla. — From her experiences on Notre Dame’s first varsity women’s basketball team to her current career as one of the top eye physicians in the nation, it seems only fitting that Dr. Carol Lally Shields be described as a visionary.

For her pioneering efforts in the classroom, on the playing court, and in her professional work, Lally Shields was inducted into the Capital One Academic All-America® Hall of Fame during a ceremony Tuesday night at the Marco Island (Fla.) Marriott Resort & Spa, in conjunction with the College Sports Information Directors of America’s (CoSIDA) annual workshop.

Lally Shields becomes the sixth former Notre Dame student-athlete to be inducted into the Capital One Academic All-America® Hall of Fame, as selected by CoSIDA members. Since the Hall of Fame’s inception in 1988, 112 individuals have been distinguished with the honor.

After accepting the award from CoSIDA president Larry Dougherty, Lally Shields sat down for an onstage interview session with event emcee and ESPN personality Rece Davis.

In addition to discussing her work as an ophthalmologist, Lally Shields spoke about the art of balancing academics and athletics during her time as a student-athlete at Notre Dame and how crafting the skills of time management and self discipline prepared her for a career in medicine.

“I worried that being an athlete at Notre Dame would take away from my studies, but, in fact, it was the exact opposite,” Lally Shields said. “When I came back from practices, I felt good about myself and I was able to put my mind to my work. It helped me academically and led me to develop a sense of pride in myself. I believed that I could accomplish anything.”

Lally Shields was joined at the gala by four other inductees as members of the Class of 2011, including Wabash College basketball player Peter Metzelaars (’82), track and field star Dr. Randall Pinkett from Rutgers University (’94), women’s volleyball standout Dr. Julie Bremner Romias (’94) of UCLA and NCAA champion diver Dr. Megan Neyer (’86) from the University of Florida.

Lally Shields becomes the first female Notre Dame student-athlete to be inducted into the Capital One Academic All-America® Hall of Fame. The other Fighting Irish inductees have been former football players Bob Burger (a 2006 inductee), Robert Thomas (a 1996 inductee), Dave Casper (a 1993 inductee) and Joe Theismann (a 1990 inductee) as well as basketball standout John Paxson (a 2005 inductee).

Lally Shields becomes part of the Hall of Fame as an honorary member. Annually, the Academic All-America® Hall of Fame and CoSIDA honor a worthy candidate whose collegiate career preceded the program in their particular sport. The eligible candidate’s academic and athletic achievements must meet minimum criteria for selection to the Academic All-America®.

As a senior in 1979, she became the first woman at Notre Dame to receive the Byron Kanaley Award, which is presented annually to senior student-athletes for excellence in athletics, academics and leadership. It is the highest honor bestowed to a student-athlete at the University.

As a junior, she led the Fighting Irish in scoring at 10.7 points per game in the first year of the varsity program at Notre Dame and averaged 12.8 points per game during her senior campaign. Lally Shields was the team’s most valuable player in 1978-79 and also was the winner of the ’79 Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Rockne Student-Athlete award for excellence in academics and athletics after earning Dean’s List recognition all eight semesters.

Lally Shields served as team captain in her senior season and graduated with a 3.91 cumulative grade-point average with a degree in pre-professional studies from the College of Science. Following graduation, she went on to earn her medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh Medical School.

A world-renowned ophthalmologist, Lally Shields was presented an honorary doctorate of science degree from Notre Dame in 2005. She currently is an ocular oncologist at the Wills Eye Institute, America’s first eye hospital located in Philadelphia, Pa. Throughout her professional career, Lally Shields has been the recipient of numerous awards, including The Retina Research Award of the Retina Society in 2006 that honors and supports an active researcher in the field of retinal disease. The Philadelphia Magazine has recognized Lally Shields as a top doctor in Philadelphia annually since 1994. She was first woman recipient of the Donders Award given annually to an ophthalmologist of international acclaim by the Netherlands Ophthalmological Society.

Lally Shields has been a member of the American Medical Association since 1980 and part of the American Academy of Ophthalmology since 1984. She is a member of 18 different associations and boards and has helped organize an annual Easter Egg hunt for more than 500 children since 1995.

In 2006, Lally Shields became the first woman to receive the Moose Krause Distinguished Service Award presented by the Notre Dame Monogram Club and given to active club members who are distinguished in their profession, demonstrate responsibility to and concern for the community, and display an outstanding dedication to the spirit and ideals of Notre Dame.

— ND —