The winter edition has a five-page article (“Take Your Conscience to Work”) discussing business ethics and how well Notre Dame has addressed ethics in business. On the very next page there is an article questioning whether Notre Dame has too many business majors. Given the ethical condition of corporate America, shouldn’t the question be whether Notre Dame has enough business majors?
Gerry Swider ’72
Sherman Oaks, California
“Take Your Conscience to Work” should be read by every college student and taken to heart. I have been a college professor for all of my professional career and have followed college curricula in many colleges. Fifty years ago almost every liberal arts college required an ethics course of every student; I doubt many still require this. I wish Notre Dame could become a model for others to return to this type of instruction so we could change the marketplace from self-centered greed to that of honesty, truth and altruistic behavior.
John H. Stoll ’75Ph.D.
Sun City, Arizona
I sew and I am fiercely loyal to Malden Mills and Aaron Feuerstein (“Take Your Conscience to Work”). His decision not to outsource polar fleece manufacturing but instead to rebuild his burned factory and care for his suddenly out-of-work employees is like Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life. In case Harvey the angel doesn’t tell you what really matters, let me try: Ethics is more than not lying or stealing from our employer. It is seeing the consequences of our actions as they relate to others—like a business ethic that actually teaches the true cost of today’s cheap goods.Today’s pernicious business greed casts its shadow over all our futures. Right now too many jobs are outsourced, too many dispossessed families are sleeping in their cars and the factories our ancestors built brick by brick are shut down. I crave a better business ethic, and I buy Malden Mills, the last American polar fleece mill.
Mary Ann Proctor ’73
Bainbridge Island, Washington
“Notre Dame Downtown” provided encouraging news about Notre Dame’s stepping up serious good-neighbor activities with South Bend. In November we were guest presenters at a gathering of South Bend neighborhood activists and city planners to assess citizen roles in public planning organized by the University. It was an evening of critical defining and discussing the potential of neighborhood people sharing control with city planners, and it brought forth impressive ideas. The event demonstrated unusually open and mature involvement by a University in the civic life of its region.
Patricia Murphy and James Cunningham
University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work
**Not so great
Inclusion of Martin Sheen in an otherwise outstanding article (“What’s So Great about Notre Dame?”) is an insult to the Notre Dame experience and to those on the list. Sheen is an actor who uses his fame to promote controversial political views and to actively support fringe beliefs, such as pacifism. The show in which he stars, The West Wing, is arguably slanted and devoid of substance. The fictional association with the University through his character is overshadowed by this activism. This and that Sheen-narrated Notre Dame promo ad are just more examples of Notre Dame trying to be accepted by the so-called establishment by associating with the cool Catholics. Let’s get some institutional self-esteem.
Pat Timon ’88
The title “What’s So Great about Notre Dame?” gives one a warm, cozy connotation of provocative intimacy and ethical superiority. And while the musings and remembrances are nostalgic, we must take dead issue with a clear theme of the article. Specifically that it is “great” and “special” for Notre Dame to have single-sex dorms, parietals, in loco parentis and “SMC chicks.” We are considerably shocked to think that there are still people in the third millennium who champion parietals and university babysitting. I dare say a majority of the alumni and a nearly unanimous student body do not feel the same. What was distinctive and “Catholic” for the 1960 and ’70s is downright absurd and ludicrous for 2004.
Doug Smego ’73 and Mary Ann Shahade Smego ’74
While matters of philosophy and emotion percolate through Notre Dame’s discussion of conference affiliation in football, the decision must be driven by academic self-interest. Conferencing in football would squander our unique identity, and this uniqueness provides much of the backdrop and prestige for our whole enterprise. Worse might be the sacrifice of unshared television and bowl revenues that support the academic life. Our special example has long been using athletics to fund academics, and what higher purpose can college sports have? Of course, the rest of college football would like to stampede us into giving up our unique nature and will use the BCS to do it. If they tilt the BCS criteria against us, let them. Writing us out of the BCS is like writing the Cubs or Red Sox out of the World Series, at least until Notre Dame football gets well, which obviously is years away.
John Gaski ’71