Mary McAleese, president of the Republic of Ireland, will be the commencement speaker at graduation exercises on May 21. An attorney, journalist and scholar, McAleese was elected to the largely ceremonial office of president in 1997 and re-elected unopposed in 2004. She is a native of Belfast, Northern Ireland, and has maintained a theme of “building bridges” throughout her tenure in office, working to heal divisions between Catholics and Protestants. McAleese will be awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree at commencement. In 2004, her husband, Dr. Martin McAleese, received an honorary degree during dedication ceremonies for O’Connell House, the base for Notre Dame’s prograrms in Ireland. . . . Mexico’s congress has nominated Notre Dame sociologist Jorge Bustamante for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. An authority on U.S.-Mexican immigration and an outspoken advocate of human and labor rights for immigrants, the Eugene P. and Helen Conley professor of sociology said the nomination itself was an award, noting that typically just 100 people are nominated each year. Bustamante has been a vocal critic of legislation that would deny citizenship to the American-born children of undocumented immigrants The prize will be presented December 10 in Oslo, Norway. . . . In another international honor, the French Ministry of National Education named Associate Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures Catherine Perry a chevalier (“knight”) in the Ordre des Palmes Academiques. The award was created in 1808 by Napoleon I and is presented to outstanding scholars whose work promotes French language, culture and educational activities. Perry is an authority in 19th and 20th century French literature and serves as undergraduate advisor for the Program in French and Francophone Studies at Notre Dame. . . . Of the 1,241 applicants receiving early acceptance letters from the admissions office this year, 22 had perfect SAT scores. . . . The Mendoza College of Business’ MBA program ranks among the best internationally in terms of commitment to social responsibility, according to the World Resources Institute and the Aspen Institute. In the recent article “The Best in the Class,” Time magazine noted that seven of nine required Notre Dame MBA courses examine the social impact of business practices, while another course is devoted to ethics. Other schools in ND’s class include Stanford, the University of Michigan and the University of Navarra in Spain. . . . Notre Dame’s efforts in accounting education also have garnered high marks. In its annual ranking, the Public Accounting Report rates Notre Dame’s undergraduate and graduate programs third in the nation behind the University of Texas at Austin and Brigham Young University. . . . Lieutenant Colonel Gary Masapollo, who is executive officer of Notre Dame’s Army ROTC, has been assigned to the Guantanamo Naval Base to serve on a board that determines who among the 550 enemy combatant detainees, mainly from Afghanistan and Pakistan, will remain imprisoned. Previously Masapollo, who holds a law degree, took part in the U.N. war crime tribunals in Kosovo. . . . Moody’s Investors Service, which provides credit ratings, research and analysis, continues to think Notre Dame offers a good investment opportunity in the bond market. The firm re-confirmed the University’s Aaa credit rating. Notre Dame is one of only nine private universities to receive the Aaa rating. Other schools include Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, Rice, Stanford, Yale, Dartmouth and MIT. Moody’s cited Notre Dame’s “robust operating performance” with “ample balance sheet resources driven by superior investment returns and strong fundraising.”. . . At the student-organized conference “The Edith Stein Project: Redefining Feminism” in a Catholic context, Notre Dame anthropologist Cynthia Mahmood spoke to a hushed audience about political violence inflicted on women in very personal terms. In 1992 Mahmood had been conducting research on a tribal group in India and was warned not to speak with a certain scholar. After meeting with the scholar any way, the anthropologist was jumped by a gang of masked men, beaten and gang raped because power holders felt threatened by her work. “How do you go from there, where you have felt the hatred of yourself as a woman. . . . How do you come back from that and heal from that?” she asked. Mahmood, who studies militant groups, said her experience has caused her to reconsider how she thinks about gender violence. She noted that some violence directed toward women in non-Western cultures, such as genital mutilation, is not viewed in the culture as an act of hatred but as an act of tradition and love. Rather than focusing on why people hate, Mahmood concluded that it is more helpful to figure out a way “in a legal, political and social arena that we can co-exist.” . . . You might say one good president begets another. Apparently that’s what the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities believes. The organization awarded Father Edward A. “Monk” Malloy, CSC, Notre Dame president emeritus, the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, CSC, Award in February. The organization honored Malloy for his service to higher education and his efforts to combat alcohol and drug abuse. . . . Meanwhile, Father Hesburgh, CSC, who preceded Malloy as ND president, was among the winners of the 2005 National Caring Awards, annually presented by the Washington D.C.-based Caring Institute to people who inspire others in the tradition of Mother Teresa. . . . One thing a Notre Dame athletic coach can say to a recruit with iron-clad confidence is “Come to Notre Dame, and you will graduate.” According to the NCAA’s Graduation Success Rate (GSR) scale for the 26 Division I-A football schools, Notre Dame’s 98 percent GSR for all its student athletes ranks second, behind only the U.S. Naval Academy, which had a 99 percent GSR. Using another scale, the federally mandated Graduation Rates Report, which covers students who enrolled between 1995 and 1998 at all Division I schools, Notre Dame compiled a four-year graduation average of 90.4 percent, ahead of Duke (89.6 percent), Stanford (88 percent) and Northwestern (86 percent). . . . Rapper Chuck D, a founder of the influential rap group Public Enemy, gave the keynote lecture during Notre Dame’s observance of Black History Month in February. Speaking to a standing room only ethnically diverse audience for almost three hours, the Adelphi University graduate, whose real name is Carlton Douglas Ridenhour, covered everything from a history of rap music and black culture to the shallowness of American reality TV culture. “America is reaching the point where anti-intellectuallism and dumbassification are coming into vogue. I spent a lot of my time outside this country and the rest of the world is a beat ahead,” he told the audience. . . . We’re No. 5 when it comes to the highest percentage of students participating in study abroad programs among American research universities, according to the Institute of International Education. In 2003-04, the most recent academic year for which statistics are available, 53.6 percent of Notre Dame students had participated in study abroad programs. The University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota, ranked first with 61.6 percent. . . .Next to the Indianapolis Speedway, Notre Dame is said to be the biggest tourist attraction in the state of Indiana, and freshman Jim Zenker is evidence of that fact. On the day of the Notre Dame-Syracuse football game last fall, Zenker, who was showing the campus to guests, became the two-millionth visitor to the University’s Eck Visitor’s Center since its opening in 1999. The stunned Notre Dame student was congratulated by University officials and Frank Eck, benefactor of the center. Zenker left the center with a basket of Notre Dame gifts and a job as a student tour guide, having impressed the center’s assistant director, Jamie Cripe. . . . Work on a proposed Notre Dame/South Bend research park may begin later this year, according to South Bend Mayor Stephen Luecke. The joint effort between the University and the city of South Bend will offer space for research and business and will be located on a triangular plot of land west of the new Twyckenham Drive extension and south of Edison Road. . . .The price tag for a year of undergraduate Notre Dame education will go up to $42,137 next year, which includes a 5.8 percent increase in tuition. In his letter to parents and guardians announcing the increase, Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins, CSC, noted, “the University remains committed to being affordable and accessible to a talented and diverse student body.” University financial aid is steadily moving way from loans to monetary scholarships. Over the past 15 years scholarship aid has increased from $5.4 million to $60 million per year, and it remains a priority in fund-raising efforts. . . . The public editor of the Chicago Tribune, Don Wycliff ‘69, has been named associate vice president for news and information and the University’s chief spokesman. A former member of The New York Times editorial board, Wycliff served as the Tribune’s editorial page editor from 1991 to 2000, when he was named public editor. He succeeds Matt Storin ’64, who was editor of The Boston Globe before serving at Notre Dame.