The Notre Dame Fund to Protect Human Life will award its first Evangelium Vitae Medal to Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), according to a University press release issued earlier this week. “We are looking for an American who has contributed over a long period of time significantly to the pro-life movement, especially at the beginning of life,” said David Solomon, chair of the Fund’s governing committee. “It was the active role he’s played, specifically in political life … that made us choose [Doerflinger].” Doerflinger has been a leader in the pro-life movement for over 30 years, according to the University’s press release. Solomon said Doerflinger works with the USCCB in Washington D.C. on pro-life issues and was especially active in presenting the USCCB’s stance on abortion in the federal government’s recent healthcare debates. The University’s Center for Ethics and Culture established the Notre Dame Fund to Protect Human Life earlier this year. It relies on private donors, not University money, to dedicate itself to pro-life issues, specifically at the beginning of human life, Solomon said. A five-person committee, which includes Solomon, Notre Dame Professors Fr. Wilson Miscamble, Carter Snead and Daniel Philpott and Associate Director of the Center of Ethics and Culture Elizabeth Kirk, controls the fund. The Fund will announce the Evangelium Vitae Medal recipient each year on Respect Life Sunday, Solomon said, and award it on the Feast of the Annunciation, which falls on March 25, 2011. The award includes a $10,000 prize and a specially commissioned medal, according to the press release. This medal is part of a larger initiative by the Fund to Protect Human Life, which will be formally announced within the next six weeks. “We’re starting a big new pro-life initiative in general, and we’re going to call it the Project Guadeloupe,” Solomon said. “It’s a project that will both involve education efforts here at Notre Dame and research efforts.” The initiative will encourage programs such as an annual life seminar on Notre Dame’s campus, a number of courses about life in the Notre Dame curriculum and a two-year master’s degree and service program based on pro-life work, Solomon said.