Seen and heard on campus (Summer 2008)

Author: Matt Cashore '94

Compiled by John Nagy ’00M.A.

The Fighting Irish hockey team nearly delivered its own Miracle on Ice in April, skating its way into the NCAA title game as the lowest-seeded squad in the 16-team tournament before falling 4-1 to heavily favored Boston College. It was the program’s first appearance in the Frozen Four, where the team played like it had been there before and beat No. 1 seed Michigan in the semifinal, 5-4. Credit Coach Jeff Jackson, who took his Lake Superior State teams to college hockey’s big dance three straight years from 1992 to 1994 and inherited a Notre Dame team that won just five games three seasons ago. . . . Now regarded as a national power, the Notre Dame icers will skate at home on the Charles W. “Lefty” Smith Jr. Rink in the Joyce Center’s new hockey arena. Smith was the first coach in the modern Notre Dame hockey program, compiling a 307-320-30 record during a 19-year stint that began with the opening of the ACC in 1968. . . . The eight-year Kevin White era in Fighting Irish athletics ended May 31 with the athletic director’s swift transition to the same post at Duke University. White oversaw dramatic improvements to the school’s facilities and its method of paying coaches during his years at Notre Dame. He helped secure an extension of the football rights deal with NBC and a guaranteed revenue stream from the Bowl Championship Series, and supported the expansion of scholarship offerings and pathbreaking on-the-field successes in nonrevenue sports. Turbulence in the football program throughout his tenure occasioned intense fan criticism, but White received the highest professional and personal praise from everyone from University President Rev. John Jenkins, CSC, to legendary Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski. Jenkins tapped Missy Conboy ‘82, deputy athletic director, to serve as interim AD. At press time, no timetable had been set for finding White’s permanent successor. . . . Coming soon to a science museum near you may be Invasive Species, a documentary filmed at UNDERC-East, the University’s environmental studies facility in northern Michigan. The eight-minute movie showcases the high-profile research of biological sciences Professor David Lodge, director of Notre Dame’s Center for Aquatic Conservation. It will run for six months at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and at museums and science centers that subscribe to the museum’s film service. It also can temporarily be viewed online as a “Bio Feature” at . . . Harper, Rockne, Leahy, Parseghian, Devine: Lou Holtz brings to six the number of Notre Dame coaches honored in the College Football Hall of Fame, where he will be enshrined next summer as one of 15 members of the hall’s Class of 2008. Holtz’s singular achievement was taking six different programs to bowl games, but Notre Dame fans remember him as second only to Knute Rockne in wins and the last coach to lead the Fighting Irish to a national championship (1988) and bowl victory (1993). Now a motivational speaker and ESPN college football analyst who flirts with the idea of a return to coaching, the 71-year-old Holtz delivered a pep talk to University staff in the Leighton Concert Hall in April and got his biggest laugh when he said he would have “to get a restraining order” against fellow analyst and Notre Dame scourge Mark May. . . . The Physics Department gained international stature for its research in relativistic atomic structure theory based in no small part on the work of Walter R. Johnson, 79, the Frank M. Freimann chair of physics since 1992. Retiring from teaching after 50 years on the Notre Dame faculty, he has published more than 250 papers, directed 21 doctoral dissertations and has twice won the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s prestigious awards for senior American scientists. In April, a gathering of some of the world’s most respected physicists paid tribute to Johnson at a symposium in the Jordan Hall of Science. But Johnson says he is proudest of his research collaborations at Notre Dame and his contact with more than 10,000 “very bright undergraduate and graduate physics majors in courses on electromagnetism, classical mechanics, atomic physics, and numerical methods.” . . . Global positioning devices are one beneficiary of technological applications emerging from Johnson’s research. So are the golfers who use such devices to navigate challenging courses such as Notre Dame’s Warren Golf Course, which, along with the on-campus Notre Dame Golf Course installed a GPS system in its carts in April. . . . Police are still investigating the abduction and beating of Keough Hall sophomore Timothy Clarke on April 20. Clarke, 20, had left a sports bar on Ironwood Road around 3 a.m. and got into a car with two or three men. Police responded to a 911 call and found Clarke at 6:45 a.m. lying on the side of Primrose Road, seven miles northwest of campus. He was taken to South Bend’s Memorial Hospital, where he was treated for a concussion, a broken right hand and lacerations on his head, chest and elbow. . . . A bus crash in Thailand that killed seven passengers and injured 31 also claimed the life of Zahm Hall junior Andrew Bunikis, 20, in April. The accountancy major from Phoenix had spent last summer teaching English to local children in a service program coordinated by Notre Dame’s Student International Business Council. He had taken a leave of absence during the spring semester to resume his volunteer work in the southeast Asian nation. . . . The magic fingers of an earthquake centered in southern Illinois gently shook students’ beds for several seconds in the early morning of April 18. The 5.2-magnitude quake nearly matched the most powerful on record for the region but caused no damage on or near campus. . . . Victory in the first Battle of the Bend went to the South Bend Silver Hawks, the city’s minor league baseball team, which defeated the Fighting Irish 5-3 in a preseason exhibition game downtown at The Cove on April 2. A portion of the proceeds were donated to research on Niemann-Pick disease, a metabolic disorder. The two teams fielded a total of 50 players, including former Indiana governor and Silver Hawks owner Joe Kernan ‘68, who, according to the team’s website, had been signed to a one-day player contract. The former Irish catcher played second base and struck out on four pitches in the third. . . . "Honk if you’re against The Vagina Monologues!" read a sign held aloft by off-campus protesters at the corner of Angela and Notre Dame avenues the day before the curtain raised on the 2008 production. During a six-minute lunch-hour interview with a protest organizer, motorists horned in 17 times. The controversial play went up at ND for the sixth time in seven years, this time for three nights in late March in the 450-seat lecture hall in DeBartolo Hall that was near or beyond capacity during the performances. On opening night, a group of about 30 students walked out after the first monologue, while sparse audiences of no more than 80 people stayed for panel discussions that covered in turn the show’s theological, social, psychological and artistic implications as part of their academic justification. Panelists who defended the Monologues as “vital” also worried that its core message about violence against women—a concern shared by the Church, as several panelists noted—was getting lost in the acrimony over whether they should be staged annually at Catholic universities. . . . No less determined to address sexuality, sexual violence and the state of contemporary feminism, the Edith Stein Project at Notre Dame opened its third annual two-day conference as the Monologues crew struck its set. The project and its conference are named for the Jewish philosopher and convert to Catholicism who became a Carmelite nun and victim of the Nazi gas chambers venerated today as Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. They, too, are becoming a perennial component of a University conversation on gender relations that culminated this year in a prayer vigil in the Grotto and twilight march to the reflecting pool in front of the Hesburgh Library. This “Take Back the Night” event brought together students who had worked on the play and the conference and was sponsored by the University’s Gender Relations Center, Feminist Voice of Notre Dame, Men Against Violence and several other University and student groups. . . . The gravity of the sexual assault problem on campus was reiterated when students reported three separate incidents in late March and April. Sixty percent of sexual assaults committed in the United States go unreported, according to the nonprofit Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. . . . “One man’s trash is another man’s artwork," says Jackie Mirandola-Mullen. The sophomore organized the inaugural Trash Is Art show, emphasizing the reuse of materials and the introduction of a single-stream recycling system on campus, as part of Recyclemania, a 10-week intercollegiate and interdorm recycling competition. “Go green no matter the season” was sophomore KristaRose Martirez Mijares’ winning entry. . . . During Earth Hour on March 31, the University took part in the global environmental awareness event by turning off the floodlights illuminating the Golden Dome and the Word of Life mural on the Hesburgh Library. . . . “How do you spell ’za?” is a question pondered by a generation of contemplative, dorm-dwelling pizza munchers, but apparently “apostrophe-Z-A-A-A-A-A-exclamation point” is incorrect, according to judges in the first Zahm-B. The hall hosted its spelling bee during the dinner hour at North Dining Hall and drew from recent National Spelling Bee word lists with a few Zahm and Notre Dame words thrown in. The event raised money for Saint Adalbert’s parish school on South Bend’s west side. Walsh Hall sophomore Rachel Davidson took home a gift card and book by correctly spelling “claustrophobia” in the fifth round. . . . Actor Sean Astin, who played the celebrated football walk-on Rudy in the 1993 film, returned to campus March 26 and spoke at Legends of Notre Dame about his ties to mental health reform, labor issues and literacy advocacy while introducing former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton to 500 students at a campaign Q&A hosted by the College Democrats. While describing the work of his mother, actress Patty Duke, as president of the Screen Actors Guild, Astin’s wry allusion to her predecessor, Ronald Reagan, as having “some affiliation to this University” drew muffled acknowledgment. “C’mon,” Astin cajoled his mostly female audience of “Hillary ’08” button-wearers. “I know we’re all Democrats, but he played the Gipper!” . . . Knute Rockne All-American isn’t just a 1940 classic movie anymore. It’s now a musical with an original script by Buddy Farmer and a period jazz score composed by Michael Mahler. The show debuted at the Theatre At The Center in Munster, Indiana, in April and received strong reviews in the Chicago papers. . . . Count Joe Donnelly ’77, ’81J.D., out of the fashionable political posturing over whether all Americans should have the same health coverage that members of Congress enjoy. It’s not that the Blue Dog Democrat doesn’t support egalitarian health care—he does, and he sees it as part of his pro-life position. But Donnelly represents the state’s 2nd district, which includes South Bend, and wife Jill ‘76 works in development for the Law School. "I’m on the Notre Dame insurance program, and that’s better than the Congressional insurance program," a grateful Donnelly quipped during a presentation on “Pro-Life Issues in the 110th Congress” sponsored by the Jus Vitae law student group. . . . Generous scoops of student enthusiasm contributed to what organizers claim was a record-breaking spoon train on South Quad during the light last days of the spring semester. Some 127 fully-clothed undergraduates lay on their sides front-to-back like spoons in a drawer. The previous mark was set by 98 human spoons according to The Observer, but no word yet on whether the Guinness World Records book has confirmed the achievement.