Domers in the News

Author: Jason Kelly '95

When it comes to political news, Caitlin Conant ’08 has you covered. The former communications director for Sen. Rob Portman and staffer for Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign took over in April as political director of CBS News. Conant joined CBS in 2016 as a communications director, managing media relations for Face the Nation and the network’s Washington bureau. She had spent the previous eight years working with Republican legislators and candidates, including on John McCain’s 2008 bid for the White House. . . .  Hundreds of former Notre Dame football players, led by Rocky Bleier ’68, Tom Clements ’75, ’86J.D., Dave Casper ’74 and Vagas Ferguson ’80, will participate in a Boston University School of Medicine research study to assess the long-term mental and physical impact of playing major college football. Drawn from players in the 17 seasons from 1964 to 1980, the group in the study ranges in age from 58 to 75. At press time, the multiyear project was expected to begin this summer with an initial medical survey of the participants. . . . When it comes to the Pulitzer Prize, it’s not quite an honor just to be nominated. (Lots of entries.) To be a finalist, on the other hand, is really saying something. Washington Post nonfiction book critic Carlos Lozada ’93 joined New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. Art critic Jerry Saltz of New York magazine received the top honor, but Lozada was cited for “engaging seriously with scholarly works, partisan screeds and popular works of history and biography to produce columns and essays that plumbed the cultural and political genealogy of our current national divide.” . . . Study everything, do anything, the College of Arts and Letters encourages its students. Like, become dean, for example. The baton (and title of I.A. O’Shaughnessy Dean) was officially passed July 1 from one Arts and Letters alum, historian John McGreevy ’86, to another, sociologist Sarah Mustillo ’96. . . . “Whenever we’d go out to the Hamptons,” says Jesse Bongiovi ’17, the son of rock icon Jon Bon Jovi, “we’d always bring cases and cases” of rosé wine. They called it Hampton Water. Now Bongiovi, his father and his college roommate Ali Thomas ’17 have a rosé label of their own: Diving Into Hampton Water, a collaboration with French winemaker Gérard Bertrand. “We like to think we were drinking [rosé] before it was cool,” Bongiovi told CNBC, but brisk sales of their $25 bottles suggest that plenty of others think it’s cool now. . . . When Vanessa Solis ’17M.A. started school in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood, she could speak only Spanish. That did not limit her education, which now includes two master’s degrees, including one in educational leadership from Notre Dame. Solis will put that to use as the new principal of Nativity Jesuit Academy in Milwaukee. A teacher and administrator at the school since 2014, she earned praise from the academy’s president for her “sense of gratitude” in recognizing the opportunities that had helped her overcome economic, social and language similar to those faced by many students from Milwaukee’s Latino community. “I know that every student who walks through our doors has unlimited potential,” she says. . . . Are you ready for more football? Charlie Ebersol ’05 thinks so. Ebersol announced in March that he had founded a new professional league, the Alliance of American Football, which will debut the week after the Super Bowl in 2019. That puts it a year ahead of the revamped XFL, expected to kick off in 2020. Ebersol directed an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary about the original XFL, which his father, former NBC executive Dick Ebersol, ran with Vince McMahon of WWE fame. The elder Ebersol is among the advisers to his son’s new league, along with former Notre Dame and New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck ’05. The Alliance of American Football plans to open in eight cities with Atlanta, Memphis, Orlando, Phoenix and Salt Lake City already on board. . . . Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, CSC, died three years ago, nearly three decades after retiring as Notre Dame’s president, but he remains a vital, living presence on a campus he transformed perhaps more than anyone other than its founder, Father Edward Sorin, CSC. Beyond Notre Dame, the priest’s influence carried great weight on matters of war and peace, civil rights and religion. Hesburgh, a documentary directed by Patrick Creadon ’89, debuted June 17 at the AFI Docs Film Festival in Washington, D.C., telling the story of the counselor to popes and presidents and “one of the only friends to whom Ann Landers turned for advice.” . . . Knute Rockne is another Notre Dame big-screen star, and now the legendary coach can claim a stage credit, too. John A. Girardi ’69 is a producer of Something in the Game, a musical running from July 20 through August 5 at Northwestern University’s Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts. . . .  Bill Bates ’75 believes architecture serves the common good. The vice president of real estate for the Eat’n Park Hospitality Group in Pittsburgh hopes to expand the profession’s capacity for making positive social contributions during his presidency of the American Institute of Architects in 2019. To Bates, that means involving architects in policy questions, rather than simply designing after government agencies or corporate boards have made crucial choices that shape the end result. “We can improve the quality of life by introducing vision to the decision-making process,” Bates says. . . . His peers have reached a verdict and Michael J. McAuliffe ’83 has earned his profession’s highest honor, becoming a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. Inducted during the organization’s spring meeting, McAuliffe, a partner in a Rockville, Maryland, firm, joined an elite group whose membership cannot exceed one percent of the lawyers in a North American state or province. The invitation-only fellowships require a minimum of 15 years of trial experience and “the highest standards of ethical conduct, professionalism, civility and collegiality.” . . . From Hawaii to Utah to South Carolina to India, Cailin Shannon ’08, has produced urban designs that draw on local traditions, improve the quality of life for residents and protect the natural environment. For her efforts, the lead designer at the Berkeley, California, firm Opticos has received the Award for Emerging Excellence in the Classical Tradition. Presented by the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community and the International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture & Urbanism, the prize honors a young professional who excels in traditional and classical architecture. . . . Mike Kemp ’74 has been inducted into the Brockport (New York) High School Wall of Honor after 40 years of coaching football, with stops at Plymouth State University and Utica College. Kemp was a three-year starter and a captain for the Notre Dame wrestling team and played minor league football for eight seasons with the Rochester Mustangs, Buffalo Geminis and Niagara Spartans before beginning his coaching career. . . . Mike Tranel ’81 first visited Little Bighorn on a second-grade class trip. Now he runs the place. Tranel, a 33-year veteran of the National Park Service, was named superintendent in March of the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, supervising the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in Montana and Devils Tower National Monument and Fort Laramie National Historic Site in Wyoming. Tranel grew up in the area and returns after spending seven years as superintendent of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park in Skagway, Alaska.


Jason Kelly is an associate editor of this magazine.