In reply to the editor’s column in the latest edition: There is plenty in each issue about the University and its alumni near the back. Could it not be said that through the articles in between those two parts the University is continuing its mission to educate, inform, challenge and stimulate those of us who were lucky enough to go there?
Ed Duggan ’53
Short Hills, New Jersey
A new coat of gold on the Dome sends the wrong message, even if it’s the message that Notre Dame intended to send. No need to elaborate. Symbols of wealth used as a devotion deviate from the message needed today.
Donald Francis Cuddihee Sr. ’54
Greer, South Carolina
The beautiful photos in the fall issue catalog the wonderful experience for alumni, fans and friends when the football team played Navy in Dublin. But the 7,300-mile round trip exhausted the team. Tired student-athletes still have to attend class when they return while preparing for the next game. The burden of the trip affected their performance on the field, as it probably did in class. This is especially true as the game was played a week before most other schools began their seasons. If Notre Dame must play in Ireland, the players should take a week off after they return so they can get their wind back before a grueling season.
John Gallogly ’74
I would love to be “Having Coffee with Anna Haskins” after reading Margaret Fosmoe’s interview with her about affirmative action. I, too, am disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision to end affirmative action for college admissions.
My college teaching career began in 1974 at Notre Dame as a teaching assistant and later as a lecturer in the Department of English. Over the past 50 years I have taught at Saint Mary’s College and Marquette University and have been at Mount Mary University in Milwaukee for almost 40 years. I feel so fortunate that my career aligned with the affirmative action era when our student populations became increasingly diverse. About two-thirds of our students at Mount Mary identify as nonwhite and more than half receive financial aid. Teaching students from all over the world and from every domestic demographic has enriched my own life experience and placed me in diverse and challenging classrooms.
It is my hope that college admissions officers will be alert to the legacy of affirmative action and the ways our teaching and learning have benefited from that policy over all these years. The “letter of the law” may have been compromised last June, but perhaps the spirit of affirmative action and its heritage will endure.
Mary Beth Dakoske Duffey ’74M.A., ’79Ph.D.
Regarding the Supreme Court decision to strike down affirmative action in education admissions, Professor Haskins appears to think that opportunity is something that is “given” to a group or groups of people. I have always believed that opportunity is something that is earned by individuals. Furthermore, Haskins seems to agree with author Ibram X. Kendi that the remedy for racial discrimination is . . . more discrimination. My own view is closer to that of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who has said simply yet profoundly that we won’t stop discrimination until we stop discriminating. This sentiment seems to underlie the court’s recent decision.
Gary L. Evins ’75
When colleges began using affirmative action in admissions decisions in the 1960s, the policy was needed to allow minority students entrance and to ensure the admissions process was fair. Today we are in a new phase in education, and the affirmative-action guidelines practiced by colleges and universities had turned into a barrier for many deserving students. Many were discouraged when the usual academic achievements did not help them gain admission because they were not minority students.
My wife was a coordinator for the International Baccalaureate Program and worked with high-achieving students from many different ethnicities and economic levels. It was frustrating to see top students, some even excelling in athletics, get rejected from their choice of school, while others whose class rank was much lower, received not only entrance but also academic scholarships. Getting into one’s choice of college was dependent on many things that did not always include academic merit.
I believe the ending of affirmative action in admissions decisions will help all students, because it challenges them to work toward their academic goals and not worry about entry into college on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or religion. We have for many years discouraged students from achieving academic excellence because they knew that affirmative-action policies were in place. The United States needs students to compete with their brightest peers in the world. We have fallen behind many countries with our educational achievements, and I for one am very happy that affirmative action has come to an end.
Kenneth Kuczka ’85MBA
The bomb and nuclear physics
My deepest thanks to Brett Beasley ’22MTS for his fine article on Bernard Waldman in “Bernie, Oppie and the atom bomb,” which evokes a number of things I wish I could personally share with Professor Waldman. Just before my graduation from the University as a physics major in 1967, I recall the announcement of Waldman’s appointment to replace Frederick Rossini as dean of the College of Science along with a brief mention of Waldman’s experience on the Manhattan Project during World War II. I had enrolled at the University in 1963, determined to major in physics largely because of my admiration for J. Robert Oppenheimer and his leadership in developing the atomic bomb. Shortly after his appointment to head the college, I recall Waldman giving an encouraging talk to our group of physics majors. A few weeks later I felt further inspired as he smiled, congratulated and warmly wished me well while shaking my hand and handing me my hard-earned diploma in physics. In the years following his good wishes I was blessed to set out on a life course that played out well.
After brief stints teaching and serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana, I earned an advanced degree in nuclear engineering, then moved in 1977 to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, which during WWII had been established as a “secret city” for the Manhattan Project in developing weapons-grade uranium for use in the first atomic bombs. For 36 years I worked at the three major nuclear facilities in Oak Ridge, serving as a nuclear engineer focusing on technology for enriching uranium and the properties and safety concerns of radioactive materials and wastes. Fortunately after such a nuclear career, I still don’t glow in the dark. Many who worked on the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge chose to remain in the secret city area and continue in the development of nuclear energy for defense and civilian purposes.
Stephen N. Storch ’67
Oak Ridge, Tennessee
The article on Ben Kane, “Pages from a Rockne-era playbook,” reminded me of the stories my mother told of meeting Knute Rockne.
I had three uncles, all of whom went to Notre Dame. Two of my uncles were coached by Rockne. Paul G. Tobin ’28 played football and James W. Tobin ’29 ran track for him. Rockne had asked my other uncle, Paul, to visit campus to discuss his future as a football player, so my grandfather, who coached a semipro team in Elgin, Illinois, took my mother, Alice V. Tobin SMC ’31, and my uncle John R. Tobin ’38 there.
Rockne said my Uncle Paul had been just an average player and would make a better doctor — all three uncles became doctors like my grandfather. But when Rockne looked at my mother, who was a big girl, he said, “It looks like you have a football player in the family; she’s just the wrong sex.” My mother never liked him from then on and said, “I was so insulted, I could have killed him.”
Barry J. Branagan ’65, ’66
Casa Grande, Arizona
His Notre Dame education
I did not see the accident that injured Laura Burdick (“Answering Why”). But I’m much more inclined to figure the drunken driver was witnessed traveling at high speed (rather than a high rate of speed). I hope you don’t think I am splitting hairs or focusing on a tree while blind to the forest; perhaps, simply, the University educated me well.
Tom Walsh ’83
I don’t always sit down with Notre Dame Magazine and invest time into reading the essays, what with our busy lives and knowing yet another issue will come to our doorstep, but I’m glad I did. After reading four essays in a row that provoked many musings and emotions, I felt the strong urge to put down my copy and send this email to say “thank you” for continuing to send these magazines to alumni. I feel privileged to be a part of the Notre Dame family, and it’s a nice reminder that the “family” extends to many people around the country and world whom I’ve never met, but who may get the chance to read intimate stories while sitting on the couch.
“What No One Else Can Give” by Mel Livatino was very thought provoking and encouraging. As a Vietnamese American, I loved hearing about Cheng Wang’s nontraditional experience at Notre Dame in “A Year of Living Joyously,” and I hope to read his book one day soon. “Trails Through Our Lives,” by Anthony DePalma, made me sentimental and emotional yet excited about the future as we are parents of a 3- and 2-year-old and 6-month-old right now. I loved reading about his hike with his son. “Answering Why” by John Shaughnessy ’77 made me cry, which is hard to do if you know me.
I also appreciated that many of the authors were forthright and unabashed about their faith or spirituality, and that the magazine chose to publish those essays, as I feel that in today’s cultural climate, we sometimes downplay devoted faith to appeal to the popular masses. I think it is brave to be countercultural.
Dominique Blume ’16
Congratulations on another smashing edition of the magazine and on making Mel Livatino’s essay the anchor piece, because its focus is so sharp and clear, coherent and integrated around the gifts that come to us when we make art, when we share art, even when a friend recommends a particularly worthwhile work or collection. As these are all notable events in a spiritual life, I couldn’t help but wish that we go the next step and call them “grace” and “graces.”
The John Shaughnessy ’77 profile of Laura Burdick ’10 gives us “why” where Livatino has “gift,” but the article raises questions of accepting God’s plan while turning our attention to laboratories, not Lourdes, for efficacious attention to the problems of physical condition. Most of us struggle along within this incoherence, this inconsistency, as we so often offer hopes, thoughts and prayers for people suffering adversity instead of dedicating ourselves to the search for real solutions to quite real, factual, physical problems.
Many European Renaissance thinkers advised us to seek truth via the “created” world, the “book of God’s work,” just as much as we pore over Old and New Testaments, the “book of God’s word.” Efforts to integrate the two kinds of truth continue against powerful resisting tides of established hierarchies who still threaten us with, in the words of Ron Reagan speaking for the Freedom from Religion Foundation, “burning in hell.” Dante and Hieronymus Bosch helped us compose powerful dreams of what suffering in hell must be like, but like all bad dreams they dissipate as we awaken from our sleep. And awaken we must, eventually.
Lyn Paul Relph ’61