Seen and heard on campus


Author: Chas Grundy

The new pope once had the chance to become a professor at Notre Dame. In the early 1960s President Hesburgh wrote to Father Joseph Ratzinger—then an up-and-coming German theologian—inviting him to join the faculty as a visiting professor or permanent member of the faculty. Hesburgh was scouring the world for prospects in his quest to bolster Notre Dame’s theology faculty. Speaking with reporters shortly after Ratzinger’s election as Pope Benedict XVI, Hesburgh said the German scholar wrote back saying he’d love to come and teach at Notre Dame but he didn’t think his English was good enough. . . . Organizers of the Bengal Bouts are still counting, but it appears that the 75th anniversary of the student boxing tournament raised in excess of $100,000. The previous record was about $75,000 in 2001. The program benefits the Holy Cross Missions in Bangladesh. The 75th tournament featured a reunion of about 150 past participants, the most senior being Jim Butler, a 1945 ND alumnus, from Indianapolis. . . . In granting Notre Dame a full, 10-year accreditation, the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges, wrote, “If any institution can take ownership of the dynamic relationship between ‘great university’ and ‘Catholic university,’ it is Notre Dame.” The commission’s report summarized the findings of a 15-member team of examiners from Notre Dame peer institutions including Duke, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Stanford and Brown universities and the Catholic institutions DePaul and Saint Louis. . . . A column by the South Bend Tribune‘s Bill Moor recalled the death, 50 years ago April 1, of chemical engineering professor John (Jack) Treacy. The 30-year-old faculty member was conducting an experiment with rocket fuel out on an old football field, assisted by four students, when a fuel tank began to over-pressurize. Treacy ordered the students to run and then took off himself. He was hit in the neck by a metal fragment and never recovered. His widow, Mary Ann (Treacy) Young, told the columnist that her husband kissed her as he headed out the door the morning of the accident. Then he came back and kissed her two more times. "I said something like, ’Jack, you act like I’m not going to see you again.’ Was it a premonition? I don’t know." . . . Notre Dame has hired a firm to explore a possible sale of WNDU-TV, the South Bend NBC affiliate the University has owned for 50 years. . . . It took a year for word to reach the magazine about the passing of French professor Charles E. Parnell in Bloomington, Illinois. The founder of Notre Dame’s foreign study program in Angers, France, died April 6, 2004, at age 86. Parnell worked his entire professional career, 1948 to 1985, for Notre Dame. He spent three tours as resident director of the program in Angers and was director of the University’s overall study-abroad programs from 1975-82. In retirement he often served as a tour guide at Sacred Heart Basilica, and one of his favorite activities was playing his viola at the Mass for retired members of the Notre Dame community every Thursday at noon. . . . Many students were unhappy with the design of The Shirt 2005. The project, begun in 1990 and now sponsored by Student Activities and the Alumni Association, raises money for student organizations and to aid students and others in need. Each year virtually all undergraduates buy The Shirt and wear it to home football games. When next fall’s design was unveiled in April, many students reacted negatively to the color, a golden yellow. Some thought it resembled shirts worn in the cheering sections at Michigan and Boston College. (The Shirt is usually blue or green.) The front features the slogan “The Spirit Lives” written in script. The back shows a photo of a circle of Notre Dame players praying on bended knees. Above the photo is a quote from Joe Theismann: “If you could find a way to bottle the Notre Dame spirit, you could light up the universe.” . . . Famed Irish tenor Ronan Tynan performed on campus on Saint Patrick’s Day. Sharing the show bill were country music singer Vince Gill and the Glee Club. . . . The Glee Club raised about $10,000 in April in connection with a special concert to benefit one of its own, Coleman Barker. The senior pre-med major had to withdraw from school last fall after being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. The tumor has been removed, and he hopes to return to campus this fall. . . . For the first time in several years, a student reported being robbed at gunpoint on campus. The incident happened April 21 around 9 p.m. near the Eck Visitors Center. The robber demanded the student’s wallet, which he surrendered. The assailant then ordered the student to turn and walk toward campus. As the student complied, the robber fled south on Notre Dame Avenue. A week later two more robberies were reported near campus, on Ivy Road. Police apprehended a suspect whose description and methods matched those from the first incident, a police official said. . . . Notre Dame hockey great and former NHL star Dave Poulin stepped down as the Irish hockey coach in April after 10 seasons. His teams went 139-197-50. His new job is in fund raising, as special assistant to the senior associate athletic director for athletic development. The new coach, Jeff Jackson, led Lake Superior State to NCAA hockey championships in 1992 and 1994 (and three consecutive trips to the title game). He was most recently an assistant coach with the NHL’s New York Islanders. Jackson is the first Notre Dame head coach in any sport to have won an NCAA Division I championship prior to being hired as an Irish head coach. . . . Every year students leave behind thousands of usable items like furniture and bicycles. This year the goods went to the stadium. Alan Bigger, director of Building Services, organized a one-day sale of the items inside Notre Dame Stadium on May 21. The event raised more than $25,000 for local United Way agencies in addition to diverting tons of trash from landfills. United Way volunteers collected, organized, priced and sold the goods, and the agencies got to keep anything they wanted that didn’t sell. . . . A week after helping Notre Dame win the NCAA fencing championship, Mariel Zagunis won her sixth career world championship. The sophomore-to-be, who won Olympic gold in Athens last summer, took the sabre gold at the Junior and Cadet World Championships in Austria. She now has won nine world championship gold medals on the junior (under-20) and cadet (under-17) levels, more than any U.S. fencer in history. . . . At Notre Dame you can find a crucifix in virtually every classroom and lab and in many offices and other rooms. But what becomes of these blessed objects after they break? Joe Schellinger, director of Academic Space Management, says he first tries to have the crucifix repaired. If that’s not possible, he holds onto the broken ones until a new building is going up. After the foundation is done, he gives the pieces to a staff member of the University Architect’s office. That person drops the pieces into the crevice between the foundation’s outer wall and the hole. The space is then backfilled with dirt. Schellinger explains that there are only three authorized ways to dispose of a blessed object: by burning, burial or submerging in a body of water. Schellinger says the number of crucifixes requiring disposal ranges from three or four to about a dozen a year. . . . Three Notre Dame faculty members received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities for 2005. That brings the total NEH fellowships awarded to Notre Dame the past six years to 20, more than any other university in the nation. The latest winners of fellowships, which include a $40,000 stipend, are: Susan Youens, professor of music; Ian Kuijt, associate professor of anthropology; and Alyssa Gillespie, assistant professor of German and Russian languages and literature. Speaking to a packed audience on campus this past spring, Ken Jennings, the software engineer who won more than $2.5 million on Jeopardy! during a 74-episode winning streak, was asked why for a long time he kept wagering an amount not quite sufficient to break the show’s single-day earnings record. According to a story in The Observer, he joked that it was to annoy host Alex Trebek, “who is always acting like he knows all the answers.”

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