Time was short when a pair of Sudanese Catholic bishops spoke at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies on October 5 to raise awareness of the potential for renewed civil war in their country following an upcoming January 9 referendum on independence for Southern Sudan. Popular support for secession in the African nation’s oil-rich and culturally diverse south is high, while the violently authoritarian government located in the nation’s predominantly Muslim north opposes separation. At Notre Dame, students embraced the bishops’ message in favor of a free and fair vote, held as the culmination of a six-year peace agreement the two sides reached in January 2005, and a peaceful adoption of its outcome. The student senate unanimously passed a resolution in support of a just and lasting peace, and leaders organized a solidarity photo outside the Rolfs Sports Recreation Center before the October 16 football game with Western Michigan. Campus efforts culminated December 4 in a 96-team 3-on-3 basketball tournament and peace rally in the Joyce Center hosted by the men’s basketball and lacrosse teams. Speakers included Father Ted Hesburgh, CSC, and Ed Bona, a Sudan native who was among the first Africans to play Division I basketball in the United States. . . . As the magazine went to press in early December, Saint Joseph County prosecutors were reviewing Notre Dame Security Police’s investigation of an alleged case of sexual assault that took place in a men’s residence hall August 31. Elizabeth “Lizzy” Seeberg, 19, a Saint Mary’s College student who had thoughts of becoming a nurse, reported the incident to NDSP the next day, nine days before her death at an area hospital from an apparent overdose of a medication she had been taking to treat depression. Seeberg had been found in her dorm room at Saint Mary’s after she had missed a counseling appointment, and her death was ruled a suicide. The accused, an as-yet-unidentified member of the football team, remained on the team as NDSP conducted its investigation. . . . Father John Zahm’s dream is coming true. The plucky Midwestern university founded in 1842 by a troupe of young French religious is known today as one of the best places in the world to study the Irish language and literature. Now it’s fixing to make a similar claim about Italian, which is studied by some 400 undergraduates each semester. Notre Dame has launched an ambitious interdisciplinary program in Italian Studies that will now formally draw on faculty from more than 10 academic departments, introduce an annual Rome seminar, pursue collaborations with Italian and British universities, and further cultivate a graduate studies culture for ND students focusing on Italian language, literature or medieval studies. Joining the fun this fall will be Dante scholar Zygmunt Baranski, currently the Serena Professor of Italian at the University of Cambridge. He will become the first Notre Dame Professor of Dante and Italian Studies, an endowed post Zahm advocated creating a century ago. . . . Basketball and volleyball fans gave “all positive” feedback when they saw the glittering addition to the Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. The videoboard from Daktronics, whose four screens each measure 18 by 11 feet, hangs over the center of the arena and offers fans replays of the action as well as scores from other games, trivia, player interviews and shots of the crowd. Athletic director Jack Swarbrick ’76 “talked about enhancing the fan experience in all of our venues,” says Michael Danch ’67, associate athletic director. It’s working. A videoboard also may be placed in the new hockey arena. . . . Michelle Bythrow’s conducting recital for the Master of Sacred Music degree this semester will include the premiere of a motet of the “Ave Maria” composed by Anthony Monta, an assistant director of Notre Dame’s Nanovic Institute for European Studies. Monta, whose tastes and skills as an amateur musician range from Gregorian chant to jazz guitar, sees his work as a “tiny and modest example of a quiet groundswell of creativity by a generation of Catholics who seek to write music for the Church which represents less of a break with historical tradition than an interesting development of it.” His “Ave Maria” is the first part of a planned musical triptych on the Holy Family. . . . The Northeast Neighborhood Revitalization program that brought Innovation Park, Eddy Street Commons and a new Indiana University Medical School at South Bend building to Notre Dame’s doorstep has made South Bend one of eight cities to earn the National League of Cities’ 2010 Award for Municipal Excellence. South Bend chose ND’s Robinson Community Learning Center to receive the $2,000 prize that comes with the award. . . . The convincing 27-3 win over a bowl-eligible Army squad on November 20 broke in the new Yankee Stadium as a college football venue, and a game ball was sent to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown to mark the occasion. It wasn’t the only big ND event in New York City that weekend, though. The University used the spotlight to launch “Contending Modernities: Catholic, Muslim, Secular” at the Sheraton New York. The project is a major global research initiative that will unfold over the next several years. Its director, Scott Appleby ’78, a professor of history and director of the Kroc Institute, calls it “an effort to confront the fact that the relationship between religion and modernity is a lot more complex than many people anticipated.” Other ND-NY moments included leprechaun David Zimmer’s backflipping appearance on Live with Regis and Kelly; a 6,000-strong pep rally complete with marching band at Lincoln Center; a Mass celebrated by University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, CSC, ’76, ’78M.A. at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral; and Bob Bernhard, ND vice president for research, ringing the closing bell at the NASDAQ stock exchange. . . . Twenty-five years have passed since Jonathan Pollard, a former civilian naval intelligence analyst, began serving his life sentence for leaking classified U.S. information about Iraq, Syria and other Arab states to the Israeli government. In a November 20 opinion piece published in The Washington Post, Pollard’s father, Morris, a ND emeritus professor of biology, once again called for his son’s release from federal prison, citing criticism of the affair from informed commentators, several of whom have made clemency requests on his son’s behalf, “not in an effort to exonerate Pollard but to question the severity of his punishment.” The elder Pollard pointed to the comparatively light sentences given even to spies who, unlike his son, had worked on behalf of U.S. adversaries like the former Soviet Union. “A petition for executive clemency for Jonathan Pollard sits on President Obama’s desk,” Pollard and attorney David Kirshenbaum wrote. “Will he bring the injustice in this affair to a long overdue end or be a partner in its perpetuation?” . . . Many Domers claim to have first seen their life’s path in Father Ted Hesburgh’s office. For senior Maria Sellers, that moment came as a freshman when she asked the University’s president emeritus about the books on his shelves and learned he couldn’t read much anymore due to macular degeneration, an eye condition. Sellers, a management consulting major, began reading up on retinal diseases, interned in the financial department of Moorfields Eye Hospital during her semester in London and this year organized a 5K VisionWalk hosted by the ND Biology Club on behalf of the Foundation Fighting Blindness, a national organization that supports retinal disease research. . . . Stadium usher Bob Irish not only has a great last name for his job, he also has a daughter who was born on Saint Patrick’s Day. . . . When freshman Amanda Bambury dressed for dinner as Harry Potter’s classmate Hannah Abbott one night, she didn’t attract awkward stares. That’s because she was among hundreds of students in costume at South Dining Hall enjoying a theme dinner two nights before the release of part one of the Potter movie series finale, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Roast chicken and Guinness stew were on the menu — sorry, no vomit-flavored candles or chocolate frogs — along with Potter-inspired desserts and a favorite Hogwarts beverage, butterbeer.