Letters to the editor

Author: Readers

Editor’s note: Letters appearing in the summer 2017 print issue are marked by a double ##.


Tom Dooley Award weekend


##While I enjoyed the summer edition, I wanted to raise awareness for the Tom Dooley Award dinner, a very important event at the Eck Center in April, presented by the LGBT Alumni/ae of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s (GALA-ND/SMC). Over 100 guests attended the celebration in appreciation of LGBT alumni, students, staff and faculty at both schools.


The Dooley award honors individuals who, through their faith-based background, have demonstrated personal courage, compassion and commitment to advance the human and civil rights of lesbian and gay Americans.


This year’s recipient is Kristen Matha (’03SMC), who was a four-year letter winner in basketball and served as student trustee. She now serves on the Saint Mary’s College Alumnae Association Board of Directors and is an associate director of academic and membership affairs for the NCAA. Kristen has facilitated numerous LGBT-inclusion trainings for NCAA staff, student-athletes and administrators. Through this work Kristen helped Saint Mary’s College develop a student leader workshop focused on creating a more welcoming and inclusive campus for LGBT students.


GALA-ND/SMC is an alumni affinity group that provides programming for LGBT alumni and friends, despite not being granted official recognition by the Notre Dame Alumni Association. Learn more about this organization, which has over 1,000 members, at GALANDSMC.org.


Liam Dacey ’04

Centerville, Massachusetts


Notre Dame history notes


##In your wonderful issue about the 175th anniversary of Notre Dame, I could not help but think of the role Knute Rockne played in the University gaining its fame. Certainly, Father Hesburgh built Notre Dame into a great university but, without Rockne, Notre Dame may have ended up as a little known Midwestern Catholic college.

Paul Coppola ’78

Washington, D.C.


##I was disappointed that your summer issue ignored the establishment of the Mexican American Graduate Studies Program at Notre Dame in 1971. Under the direction of Professor Julian Samora, who arrived at Notre Dame in 1959, the program transformed the lives of hundreds of students — particularly the 57 Chicana/o and Latina/o post-baccalaureate graduates who would go on to their own distinguished careers as professors, physicians, attorneys and community activists, and the rippling effect they have had on the thousands of lives touched by these alumni and ND Samoristas.


Dr. Samora was an incredible educator, mentor, visionary and the first Mexican-American sociologist in the nation. These major feats and contributions coming out of Notre Dame revolutionized higher education, and are worth noting and affirming in our history of 175 years. ¡Julian Samora Presente!


Alberto López Pulido ’84M.A., ’89Ph.D.

San Diego


The summer issue of the magazine was fantastic, especially the 21 pages of “bullet” history. But I must correct the item on the 1952 “Milk Riot.” I was there, and it’s my recollection that we were served four 10-ounce glasses of milk daily over three meals, or 40 ounces per day. Without any notice, one day we were served five 8-ounce glasses of milk over three meals which was also 40 ounces total. In other words, there was no deliberate effort to cut back our daily ration, but because of no prior communication things went downhill immediately. At the same time, there was a blood drive on campus and it didn’t take long for a sign to go up saying, “NO MILK NO BLOOD.”


Ed DeBoer ’53

Signal Mountain, Tennessee


Great story about Albert Zahm and his aerodynamics. He would have enjoyed meeting Father Fryberger, rector of Zahm Hall during my 1954-55 freshman year. He patrolled the hallways "after hours," wearing one business shoe and one tennis shoe. He’d go very swiftly along his way, but it sounded to all of us as though his was a slow gait, as only the business shoe would make a clicking noise — so he would catch and reprimand anyone acting “out of order.”


Another excellent issue. We always turn first to Class Notes for '58 — probably all Domers do the same. Which raises the question — were we called Domers those 59 years ago?


Pat Doherty ’58

Northfield, Illinois


In your 175 Anniversary Issue you have an article on the ND&W railroad. I remember it well. But I believe that the article neglected to say that TEAMS arrived and departed from there. I am almost certain that the Army team arrived for the 1958 game with all the Corps of Cadets and their mascots and marched from there to the stadium. I'm not certain, but I believe that the famous 1966 championship team departed from the ND siding to go to East Lansing. I'm sure there are a lot more.

You should write a much lengthier piece about all the history and the various pieces of equipment and locomotives used over the years. There are a lot of railroad buffs out here and I happen to be an ND grad.


John Walsh ‘61

Via email


The Stationmaster


Many thanks for Sean O'Brien’s article on Thomas Bulla, "The Stationmaster.” The connections O'Brien was able to make filled me with awe, including his final thoughts about the students headed to exams on hallowed ground. I am certain O'Brien is a superb teacher, as he was able to teach so much in his article. Seems though that Indiana could stand some soul-searching. In the 19th century, the state professed to be free while continuing to treat humans like property, even to the point of punishing those who aided and abetted their journey to freedom. In the 21st century, Governor Pence attempted to deny freedom to refugees in a flash of genuine disregard for human tragedy. Thankfully, Archbishop Tobin put the full weight of the Catholic Church in opposition to such a move. O'Brien unearthed that connection (valid or not) in me, so I know his work provided food for thought for others as well.


Barry Fitzpatrick

Via email


There's a Bulla Road running through South Bend that meets the edge of Notre Dame's campus. Around 1972, some students renovated a modest house on that street to serve as a meeting place for Campus Ministry, and it was dubbed Bulla Shed. It was, I think, approximately where Wilson Commons stands today.


So the name "Bulla" evokes to me fond memories of Masses and parties in the ’70s. The name triggered my curiosity when I opened the magazine, though I knew nothing of Thomas Bulla.

Thanks to Sean O'Brien for a fascinating, and inspiring, profile of a courageous man.


Bill Higgins '76

Via email




I always enjoy receiving the new issue, but I must say that this one I absolutely read cover-to-cover. It was really wonderful, and in fact I decided to save rather than recycle it. Thank you for all your regular excellent work, and especially for this issue.


Leslie Dione Emge

(Parent, Spicer Emge, School of Architecture 2019)


Given the current political climate, publishing a picture of a Pepe the Frog sticker on a laptop in the current Notre Dame magazine was not a good editorial decision.


Andrea Weber ’82

Via email


The Lopez essay

##Yes, yes, yes! was my reaction to Barry Lopez’s article. So many people assume I had a fantastic experience at Notre Dame, but when I’m truthful I’ll admit I felt stifled by the homogeneity. I was thrilled to read about his perception and am so thankful he shared his candid opinions.


Diane Kozak Schwarz ’85

Fort Worth, Texas


##Barry Lopez said that while at Notre Dame he had only studied with people like himself. But he and I were “exchange students,” taking several classes at Saint Mary’s. Also, there were many of us who were antiwar like Barry who passed the physical and went on to serve in the military. The Vietnam War changed us all, some for better, some for worse. An irony to me was to return to Notre Dame for my 50th reunion and be given a baseball cap made in Vietnam.


Maurice J. O’Keeffe ’66

Merrill, Oregon


I continue to read and enjoy the magazine as I have since graduation, although I miss the scholarly historical articles, which were once more frequent. Two comments on my classmate Barry Lopez’ essay: "between dog and wolf" is translated as "inter canem et lupum." Different declensions apply to the words "canis" and "lupus." When we quote the ancients, let's respect their grammar. Secondly, the line Paul Scofield apparently adapted to his Broadway role as Sir Thomas More is from a speech by Oliver Cromwell, delivered centuries after the time period of the referenced theater. We don't compare Cromwell to Thomas More, but it’s a great line, so why not use it?

Edward Ryan ’66

El Segundo, California


Woodward and Marty talk


##I am of two minds as I read this article. Sociologically, I think that Marty and Woodward “nail it.” Was our country really better with “strong church communities” in the ’50s? They may have served, in a certain way, to support families, but single people, LGBT people, disabled people, free-thinkers, etc. were marginalized. There was, in my opinion, an unholy alliance of church and state. I'm not so sure that people were actually better Christians, they may have just been better at conforming to certain societal expectations. On the other hand, many white churches were, and continue to be, incredibly racist. I think the problem then, as now, was not so much the strength of institutional churches, as the degree of commitment to following Jesus and his way of the cross. Please do not misunderstand me. I treasure the gift of a community of faith, and even though I have a personal investment in the institutional church, I really am beginning to think there are far better ways of “being church” than many of those to which I have been exposed in my lifetime. I believe communal worship, prayer, service and “fellowship” are important — but they are all interdependent with the individual call to discipleship.


Pastor Kimberly A. Rapczak

Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania


Thanks for the chance to listen in on the conversation between Ken Woodward and Martin E. Marty.

I can’t say they came to any astounding conclusions about where public religion was and where it’s going, except that we seem to be lacking in Thomas Mertons and John Wesleys, and barely have a hold on the Dalai Lama. What I enjoyed was just hearing from Martin Marty again. For a decade in our prior century I was a subscriber to Christian Century where he’s been senior editor. And, what attracted me to Christian Century was there were so many articles reminding me strongly of the part of our ND magazine that I enjoy most — the articles at the very back. During the time of my subscription to CC, more and more of the news therein concerned the threatening or real schisms in Protestant denominations revolving around women or gay pastors. It just kept coming and eventually wore me out.

In a brief email exchange with Marty I figuratively tossed “over the transom” some contribution I was submitting; which did not get published. But Martin and I agreed that the use of B.C.E. and C.E. instead of B.C. and A.D., for the sake of academic tolerance, pretended to protect the sensitivities of people who likely did not exist, and if they did, wouldn’t expect the same consideration from any other religion. Why Christianity accepts this substitution is lost on me, and apparently on Pastor Marty as well.


Jim Durand ’69 B.S. ’73 M.A.
Anchorage, Alaska


Pence at commencement

##I was pleased to see “Speech class” in the last issue. Being an alumnus disappointed in those graduates who “walked out” during the vice president's speech, I thought I might read words persuading me not to be ashamed of their petulant actions. Nothing was offered. But I did learn the ceremony was “a series of powerful statements about the nature and exercise of free speech and the essential value of listening to all voices, great and small.” I’m a simple man so I ask, “How does one learn about the ‘essential value of listening’ if one is not in the room?” If the 2009 commencement speaker had been on the docket, I’m convinced they would have remained firmly rooted in their seats. Where is evidence of the “tolerance” young people hold so dear, or the graciousness and good manners adults extend when welcoming guests into their homes? Isn’t this action a perfect example of “intolerance,” of intellectual weakness, hostility, cowardice and close-mindedness?

Robert C. Johnson ’65
Bonsall, California


##That students walked out when Vice President Mike Pence was introduced is an extremely embarrassing and unwarranted insult not only to Mr. Pence but to the very fiber of our country.


As parents of a son and daughter-in-law who are proud graduates of Notre Dame, we are very disappointed with the institution allowing this to happen. There have been a limited number of such disgraceful occasions that have drawn our attention — bestowing an honorary degree on Barack Obama, the women’s basketball team wearing the “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts and now the total disrespect of a fine man.


Bernard Brummell

Los Ranchos, New Mexico


##The “students” who walked out looked like a lot of grad students who came to Notre Dame for an education but not to learn what the University stands for. Intolerance of anyone who disagrees with you has led to what is happening on campuses today — violent protests to silence anyone you disagree with. As a student at Notre Dame, I was taught to listen to what others said and if I disagreed, voice my opinion. If we couldn’t reach agreement, we agreed to disagree, but we would never not listen.


Barry J. Branagan ’65, ’66
Casa Grande, Arizona


##Notre Dame has unmistakably checked the diversity box by conferring an honorary degree on a proud homophobe, xenophobe and champion of gender inequality, to name a few distasteful qualifications. But kudos to those graduates who elected to make a statement against the hypocrisy of Mike Pence. They saw through his veiled Christian Right morality and pro-life flag waving while he actively engages in this administration’s senseless and systematic assault on the poor, the vulnerable and the most marginalized. These struggling people, while surviving birth and often the wrath of poverty, oppression and war, need pro-life help now. Mike Pence, however, has made a career by turning his back on them in their desperate time of need. That is what disrespect looks like.


Cmdr. Jack Stephan ’75 (USNR Retired) 
Annapolis, Maryland


##The selection of Mike Pence as commencement speaker is part of a pattern I have observed and been ashamed of since I was a student — gestures and policies that favor wealth and power, with concomitant cruelty and indifference to suffering. This pattern is appalling hypocrisy for an institution that claims to have the Gospel as its foundation.

When I was a student there in the 1980s, I watched in disbelief as Father Hesburgh stood on the steps of the Main Building and refused to divest the University’s monies from institutions in South Africa, which at the time reeled under the influence of apartheid. The selection of Pence is, to my mind, a far more horrifying gesture. His own record with regard to voter suppression as well as his hostility to gay rights, his repudiation of the science of evolution, his endorsement of the “voodoo” of supply-side economics and his belief in the thoroughly discredited and sadistic practice of “gay therapy” are enough to qualify him for any roster of comic book villains. But even worse is Pence’s choice to hitch his wagon to Donald Trump.


Anthony Lawton ’89

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


I enjoyed Robert Schmuhl's "What Father Ted taught me" in the Spring 2017 edition. I had a similar experience during my four years at Notre Dame and found Father Ted's presence to be truly inspirational. Sadly, I'm not sure the university is still following those values that Father Ted taught. Two pages after the article on Father Ted, current President Rev. John Jenkins is quoted, "We are proud to welcome [Mike Pence] to represent the new administration." The "values" that my children and I are hearing from this new administration include messages that it is okay to lie and cheat in the interest of acquiring personal wealth, "locker room talk" demeaning to women is acceptable, marriage is for convenience, and people can be judged favorably or unfavorably based on race and ethnicity. I wish the university had the courage to draw the line against a corrupt administration rather than honoring it. Sometimes in life we need to do that, even if it could mean a short-term loss in notoriety or less accumulation of material goods. That's what Father Ted taught me.

Mike Tranel ’81
Skagway, Alaska


Opposing views


The synopses of Charles Murray’s lecture and Professor Agustin Fuentes’ “impassioned response” (“Seen & Heard”) implied a clash of violently opposing views. My impression is rather one of consistent positions talking past one another. Professor Fuentes’ valid point that many groups never participated in the prosperity and well-being enjoyed by the white working class in the postwar era does not refute the current dynamic that relegates ever larger segments of our society to the frustrations of participating in a game they cannot win and the resentment that naturally follows.

Fred Kuhar ’71J.D.

Wickliffe, Ohio


Father McGrath memory


Keep the articles coming. I do, however, miss present-day photos of the students and campus events. The old-time photos were also a treat.


I would like to add a few words on the passing of Father James McGrath. I had father for Plant Anatomy his first year back to ND at the Graduate School of Biology. To say that he was a tough taskmaster is an understatement. He expected a lot from his students. He is one of the reasons why ND continues to be a leader in the academic world. You really appreciate a teacher that does give a full effort and really gives you the material you need for the course. Father McGrath wanted to teach us EVERYTHING that there was to know about plants in his class and lab. He even added a “project” involving the use of the old film cameras, developing and printing photos from the microscope and handing in as a project. All this during a six-week summer course. He was the essence of a dedicated teacher. We will miss him.


Professor Alfred A. Rottino ’69M.S.

Coram, N.Y.