Katie Mullins ’14 unwittingly found herself on Taylor Swift’s Christmas list last fall after she lipsynced a bonus track from Swift’s 1989 album and posted the video clip to Tumblr. Soon after, the Alliance for Catholic Education teacher received a large parcel full of jewelry, snacks, a signed poster for Mullins’ third-grade classroom in Tucson and other gifts, each one wrapped by the singer with its own handwritten note. “I’ll never forget my 3rd grade teacher, and your students will never forget you,” the enclosed card read. “You didn’t choose an easy job, but you chose an important one.” . . .
It took 55 candles in the Grotto to spell out “DAN,” a tribute to sophomore business student Daniel Kim, 21, of Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, who was found dead in his off-campus home on February 6. Friends from Keough Hall recalled Kim as friendly and funny, a formidable opponent in FIFA soccer video game matches, and an open and humble companion. Students also learned of the death of senior business major Lisa Yang on March 3. A memorial service for the Herndon, Virginia, native was planned for March 16. . . .
The board of trustees elected Father John I. Jenkins, CSC ’76, ’78M.A. to his third five-year term as Notre Dame’s president in January, citing his “unfailing commitment to the University’s Catholic character as well as to teaching and research excellence.” The trustees also renewed the appointments of Provost Thomas G. Burish ’72 and Executive Vice President John Affleck-Graves, who have served with Jenkins since 2005. Later this year, Jenkins will pass Father William Corby, CSC, as the sixth-longest serving leader of the University. . . .
Arts and Letters has lost its place as the University’s largest college. That title now belongs, if briefly, to the Mendoza College of Business. A&L enrollments have declined 31 percent over the past 10 years according to The Scholastic, which attributes the changing places to students’ perceptions of their employability after graduation. The flip-flop may not last long. Mendoza is implementing a cap that will limit each class year to 550 students. This year’s senior class will graduate about 100 students more than that. . . .
The Hawk has a new perch in the rafters of Purcell Pavilion. Tom Hawkins ’59, who starred for the Irish basketball team from 1956 to ’59, became the seventh inductee into the Notre Dame Basketball Ring of Honor during Notre Dame’s 75-70 win over Miami on January 17. Hawkins, who was Notre Dame’s first black All-American, still holds the Irish record for most career rebounds with 1,318. . . .
The South Bend Tribune broke the news in December of a Laetare Medal up for sale on eBay. The Vancouver, Canada-based seller set an asking price of $11,850 — roughly four-and-a-half times the value of the medal’s two ounces of gold — and said he would not divulge the name of the medal’s recipient except to serious bidders. He offered reporter Margaret Fosmoe ’85 only two clues: The honoree was a man and had received the award, which the University bestows annually upon distinguished American Catholics, between 1940 and 1960. University researchers believe the medal in question was given in 1959 to diplomat Robert D. Murphy, known at midcentury as “Uncle Sam’s favorite troubleshooter.” The giveaway? For the inscription on his medal, Murphy selected the Roman poet Martial’s Ride, si sapis, which, unlike the redacted name and date, is clearly visible in a photo posted by the seller. It means, “Laugh, if you are wise.” . . .
The age of the Massive Open Online Course has arrived at Notre Dame. Thousands of prospective students have already visited online.nd.edu/notredamex/courses, selected a class and set up a free account with edX, a Harvard and MIT-based nonprofit. Notre Dame’s foray into the MOOC era begins April 15 with I ♥ Stats: Learning to Love Statistics. Three more courses — Jesus in Scripture and Tradition; Math in Sports; and Understanding Wireless: Technology, Economics and Policy — will begin soon thereafter. Designed by Notre Dame faculty, the eight-week courses may be audited by anyone for free or, for $50, completed for a certificate, but the greatest benefit may be felt on campus, where faculty may use multimedia tools from these courses and future MOOCs to enhance their own teaching. Gary Anderson, the Hesburgh Professor of Catholic Theology, said he jumped at the chance to adapt a portion of his Fundamentals of Theology class and work with Professor John Cavadini, an early Church expert, to make it more accessible through their course on Jesus. “My hope is that this course will both allow the student to see the rich theological resources that a Catholic can find in the Bible and provide at least one example of what an intellectually rigorous and ecclesially centered theological education looks like,” he said. . . .
What happens when you put two of the nation’s best sharpshooting guards, both of them leading Top 10 college basketball teams, head-to-head in an old-fashioned playground shooting contest? Fighting Irish Digital Media wanted to know. So in February they invited 5th year senior Jerian Grant and junior Jewell Loyd, both All-Americans and national player of the year candidates, to play H-O-R-S-E in front of their cameras. Loyd blanked her opponent in a best-of-three set, sealing victory with a high-arcing jumper from behind the backboard. When the grim-faced Grant challenged her to a rematch, Loyd graciously accepted. “I have the first W,” she said to the camera. “Remember that, people.”