U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan will be the principal speaker at commencement in May. . . . Here’s a sign of progress for those who think Notre Dame’s faculty is too heavily weighted with white males: Women or members of a racial or ethnic minority accounted for 32 of the 63 teaching-and-research faculty hires during the 1998-99 academic year, according to the annual report of the University’s Academic Affirmative Action Committee. But the committee said “the overall number of faculty of color remains unacceptably low” and there’s a “virtual absence” of African Americans. . . . A few years ago in-line skates were all the rage on campus and bicycles passé, but bikes are back. It’s not uncommon to see 200 to 300 parked outside a residence hall, compared with fewer than a hundred two or three years ago. p(image-right). The bike boom is borne out in the number of bikes registered with campus police — 259 in 1997, compared with 391 this past fall, although hundreds more bikes never get registered because it isn’t required. The renewed popularity of bikes is probably a consequence of the campus spreading out. With four new residence halls built on the back nine of the golf course and the bookstore relocating from the South Quad to south of the Morris Inn, students face longer commutes. Grounds crews are adding bike racks but can’t keep up with growth in demand at popular locations like the north door of DeBartolo. Which is why you see bikes chained to light and sign poles, railings, even trees. . . . Nine out of 10 Notre Dame freshmen surveyed say they plan to earn an advanced degree. . . . Five years ago, when he was 14 and recovering from surgery for a rare form of bone cancer, Joe Collins of Placentia, California, was contacted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a group that arranges for children facing life-threatening illness to enjoy special adventures. He wished for a trip to Notre Dame to see a football game, and he got it; the Irish beat Air Force. But since then he’s had better news. The cancer is gone. “I am completely better. There’s nothing wrong with me,” Collins tells fellow residents of Zahm Hall; he’s now a Notre Dame sophomore. He hasn’t forgotten his introduction to campus. Last fall he and some buddies helped out with a fund-raiser for Make-A-Wish at a South Bend radio station. He says he plans to get more involved with the organization in the future. . . . In January and February the Snite Museum hosted a traveling exhibit of 100 photographic portraits. The pictures were taken by the authorities at a high school in Cambodia that in the 1970s was converted by the Khmer Rouge into a prison and a way station to an execution site. Of 14,200 people brought to the prison, seven survived. The exhibit held special meaning for Wuy Nem, who works in the North Dining Hall, and his wife, Sal. As reported in The Observer, the former rice farmers survived years of forced labor and lost two young children to disease and malnutrition during the terror. They emigrated to the United States in 1985, sponsored by Steve Moriarty, curator of photography at the Snite. . . . Opposition to the death penalty appears to be gaining strength on campus. On the night of December 8, a group of Notre Dame students estimated at nearly a hundred participated in a prayer vigil lasting several hours at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City. “The turnout was amazing,” said Laura Antkowiak, president of Notre Dame Right to Life, “especially considering that the vigil was on the last night of classes, when everyone parties.” The students and others were protesting the lethal-injection execution of a prisoner scheduled for shortly after 1 a.m. South Bend time. The condemned was a 48-year-old man with a reported I.Q. of 75 who was found guilty in the 1982 murders of his estranged wife’s mother and her husband. Since his conviction, Indiana has enacted legislation preventing the execution of mentally handicapped people. But because the law does not apply retroactively, it didn’t save him from becoming the seventh prisoner put to death in Indiana since capital punishment was reinstated in 1977. . . . At the final home games for the men’s basketball team, no homemade signs were permitted in the Joyce Center, more ushers were assigned to the student section, and a pregame announcement warned that inappropriate remarks would result in ejection. The measures were in response to the bad behavior of a small number of students at the Irish home victory over the Huskies in February. In the first half a fan reportedly shouted “What does Allah think of bastard children?” at Connecticut guard Khalid El-Amin, a Muslim who is married with one child but also fathered a child out of wedlock. Later about 20 rowdy students began chanting, “Bastard children, bastard children” at El-Amin. In the days following the game, men’s basketball coach Matt Doherty apologized to El-Amin and to Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun, and in a letter to the student body said he appreciated the renewed enthusiasm at home games but expected better of students. “Anything that is vulgar or is a personal slur,” the coach wrote, “has no place in the Joyce Center.” . . . Though he prefers not to discuss dollars, the new director of licensing, Larry Williams ’85, a former offensive lineman for the football Irish, confirms that the downturn in popularity of team-logo sportswear has hurt Notre Dame’s licensing revenues. . . . For those who missed it at the student film festival a couple of years ago, “Moment,” the terrific short film by Ryan Lutterbach ’98 about varying perspectives during an instant frozen in time, can now be viewed on the web at www.shortbuzz.com/films/moment.html. . . . “I felt posthumous the entire day, but that’s my condition most of the time now anyway,” said Ralph McInerny. Notre Dame’s 71-year-old Grace Professor of Medieval Studies, Jacques Maritain Center director, and prolific author of the Father Dowling Mysteries and other popular and scholarly works was talking about a daylong conference on campus in December that celebrated his life and career. p(image-right). The event coincided with the Notre Dame Press publication of a collection of essays on natural philosophy, ethics and metaphysics honoring him. It’s not often one gets to attend a conference on one’s works while still of this earthly plane. The professor’s explanation: “If you get old enough and you have students who have no standards they put on these things for you.” In addition to philosophers discussing his works, the conference included Mass celebrated by Bishop John D’Arcy of the Fort Wayne/South Bend diocese. After the service, the day’s honoree couldn’t help but inquire of attendees, “Will you be going on to the cemetery?”
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