Seen & heard on campus

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Author: John Nagy ’00M.A.

The University community returned for the spring semester to a letter from the president, Father John I. Jenkins, CSC, asking students, faculty and staff to “report promptly and fully any questionable conduct.” Although he cautioned, “We must be careful not to judge prematurely,” Jenkins said events at Penn State University had prompted Notre Dame “to consider what we can do to prevent similar transgressions here.” Noting connections between “what is alleged to have occurred at Penn State with the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church,” he said “universities and religious institutions may be particularly vulnerable to such failures” because of the “pride and devotion that may have made otherwise good people . . . reluctant to report behavior that was so dramatically at odds with their ideals, or to report people whom they respect and for whom they care.” The letter affirmed that Notre Dame does not tolerate the abuse or exploitation of individuals and called for the reporting of “problematic” conduct, broadly understood to include “ethical lapses, failures to adhere to University policies by faculty or staff, student honor code violations, safety concerns, criminal conduct or any other situation that needs attention.” . . .

A St. Patrick’s Day to remember was in the works as the magazine went to press in March of 2012. Enda Kenny, the Taoiseach — prime minister — of Ireland had announced plans to stop on campus to pay his respects to Father Ted Hesburgh, CSC, and confer Irish citizenship upon the University’s 94-year-old president emeritus. Kenny’s itinerary on the Irish-American high feast had him en route from Chicago to New York as part of his annual St. Patrick’s Day trip to the United States. . . .

The Notre Dame Bike Repair Shop, a valued modern component of a venerable campus cycling tradition that dates back nearly 150 years — see Father Sorin’s Velocipede" — closed this winter when it lost its garage in the Old Security Building to a renovation and expansion project that will provide workshop and studio space for architecture, art and design students. The student-run service of the Notre Dame Security Police provided free repairs to students, faculty and staff, culling its stock of replacement parts from the fleet of abandoned bicycles that security officers collect at the end of each year. Junior Jon Schommer, a student mechanic, said the shop fixed 331 bikes in 2010-11 and required only a heated garage on campus for bike and tool storage. Student letters to The Observer decried the shuttering as a blow to campus sustainability — and safety, considering the cost of fixing damaged gears and brakes at professional shops. Most heartfelt was the lament from Carroll Hall resident Jason Kippenbrock, who worried the closure would “condemn Vermin [the mascot of campus’ most far-flung dorm] to perpetually long and tedious journeys to class as we attempt to survive the year without our precious (albeit prone to breaking) bicycles.” . . .

Coming in around #65 on Twitter’s Irish-language Hot 500 is Notre Dame Brian Boll (@bhriain), who graduated in January. But the Detroit-area native didn’t just start racking up the tweets on his first day of introductory Irish. Boll changed his major several times before settling on a self-designed program in Irish Cultural and Language Studies, where he has similarly distinguished himself in demonstrating how social media can support the learning of a foreign language. Last year he tweeted in Irish twice a day on average, mostly “about current events . . . things I’m interested in, including plenty about the Irish language itself and the community surrounding all that,” he says. The activity notched his place on Indigenous Tweets, a website created by a St. Louis University computer science professor to help speakers of minority languages build online communities through Twitter. Now Boll hopes to work in the Gaeltacht, Ireland’s Irish-speaking, nonvirtual community in the island’s rural west, where he spent the summer after his freshman year in a language immersion program. . . .

When it comes to tweeting, the tapping out of one’s fascinations to adoring followers in 140 characters or less, not even Brian Boll can keep up with Skylar Diggins (@SkyDigg4) the junior point-guard phenom and social-media über-magnet. Tweetscenter, a website that tracks and evaluates athletes’ social media performance, listed Diggins — who had nearly 150,000 followers as of the end of February — sixth on its Power Rankings, not quite as high as celebrity athletes Chad Ochocinco or LeBron James but out ahead of Tim Tebow in the purported quality and frequency of her posts. But the soundbyte stardom hasn’t robbed Diggins of her wits or perspective. “Do you think we don’t know that we don’t make a lot in the league?” she retorted when asked by New York Times Magazine writer Andrew Goldman about female professional athletes’ salaries and her career hopes. “We can’t sit on the edge of the bench waving a towel and get paid $400,000, so we have to make sure we come up with a strong Plan B. Right now I’m in business-management entrepreneurship in one of the country’s top undergrad business programs.” . . .

Joining the likes of coaches Ara Parseghian, Muffet McGraw and TV sportscaster and Notre Dame parent Dick Vitale, Carolyn Woo has been named an honorary Notre Dame alumna. In January, Woo formally stepped down as the Martin J. Gillen Dean of the Mendoza College of Business, a position she had held since 1997, to serve as president and CEO of the Baltimore-based Catholic Relief Services. “For me, I move forward to follow the mission and mandate of Notre Dame: to trust in God, to share our blessings and surrender ourselves for bringing about the kingdom of God here and now,” Woo said upon receiving the distinction in December. At press time, the University had not made any announcements about the search to find Woo’s successor as dean. . . .

The Prince of Wales couldn’t lift the award that Michael Lykoudis, the Francis and Kathleen Rooney Dean of Notre Dame’s School of Architecture, presented to him January 27, 2012, at Saint James’s Palace in London. Even with Lykoudis and philanthropist Richard H. Driehaus there to help, Prince Charles decided against moving the model of Athens’ Tower of the Winds from its safe perch on the dais. A longtime supporter of traditional architecture and sustainable urban planning — the basis of the Notre Dame architecture curriculum — His Royal Highness has championed development, reconstruction and preservation efforts around the world. He has also been a forceful critic of modern architecture, endearing him to classicists and their supporters such as Driehaus, who each year at Notre Dame presents a major award in his name to a practicing classical architect. To recognize Prince Charles, the School and Driehaus established a one-time honor — The Richard H. Driehaus Prize at the University of Notre Dame Patronage Award — which included a $150,000 donation to the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community. “Perhaps like a piggy bank, it’s inside there,” Prince Charles said of the cash prize, gesturing toward the heavy model during his address to the foundation’s annual conference. The foundation will use the gift to establish an intensive, one-year undergraduate diploma course in sustainability and the building arts, a longstanding ambition that the award made possible. “If I may say so,” the Prince added, “it’s come like Father Christmas.” . . .

The University’s accomplishments in overseas development programs, especially in East Africa and Haiti, and its consolidating interdisciplinary strengths in research that targets pressing global problems in energy, the environment, technology, economic development and public health, were showcased late last year in a day-long Forum on Global Development in Washington, D.C. The event, a Notre Dame-led collaboration through the Office of Research, brought together members of Congress and federal foreign aid officials with ND faculty and active partners from foundations, businesses and humanitarian organizations to talk about development investment, infrastructure and human dignity amid a budgetary atmosphere increasingly keen on innovation and measurable results. “The work that Notre Dame is doing globally not only alleviates human suffering but also defines America to the world,” U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois told participants. “Time and again Notre Dame has risen to the challenge, and today we need you more than ever.” Watch videos about the forum and Notre Dame’s global development programs at globalforum.nd.edu. . . .

The winter of 1959 was hard on American pop music, and the bad news on the doorstep nearly reached the Golden Dome. On The Day the Music Died, a gathering February snowstorm notoriously claimed the lives of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and their young pilot when their plane crashed after takeoff from Clear Lake, Iowa. Six weeks later, mindful of that disaster, the members of The Kingston Trio found themselves in a grimly similar situation, their plane descending and the pilot fighting engine trouble, en route to a gig at Notre Dame. “We knew we were dead,” singer and guitarist Bob Shane recently told The Fretboard Journal. This time, however, the night ended happily. While the band drained a liquor bottle, their pilot, who’d flown B-17s during World War II, managed a safe landing in a field just a few miles from campus. They even made it to the old Fieldhouse on time. There, however, events took another unexpected turn when a priest greeted them with a warning: Keep your on-stage language clean lest you find yourselves unplugged. Recalled Shane, “We finished the first opening act and nobody is cheering; [bandmate] David [Guard] said, ‘Father such and such said that if we did any blue material here they would turn off the lights and the sound.’ Then there is this silence. And then a sole voice from the top of a bleacher called out ‘Horsesh—!’ And the whole place went crazy. The crowd was pounding their feet on the bleachers and making this weird rumbling sound. That was some day.”


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