Seen and heard on the Notre Dame campus

Author: John Nagy ’00M.A.

February 17 was a painful day for the Notre Dame family, as students learned of the unrelated deaths of two of their peers: second-year law student Timothy R. Aher, who lived in Ilford, England, while studying in the London Law Programme, and sophomore Connor P. McGrath. The University did not release information about the cause of either student’s death, but police investigators said in McGrath’s case, his diabetes may have been a factor. . . . Friends remembered Aher, 25, of Brookfield, Connecticut, as a gifted linguist and trenchant cultural observer with a heart for the marginalized who had taken internships offering legal assistance to AIDS patients and low-income clients. “Tim was no stranger to emotional suffering in his own life, and he struggled mightily to cope with it,” law professor Father John Coughlin, OFM, said in remarks delivered at a February 19 memorial Mass for both students celebrated at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Aher’s death was the second loss suffered in the past year by the Law School community, who mourned the passing of third-year law student Ryan Rudd last April. . . . McGrath, 20, of Oklahoma City, intended to major in business. An outgoing student praised by his former rector, Father Peter McCormick, CSC, as an exemplar of generosity, he was a resident of Siegfried Hall but had spent the night before his death with friends in Dillon Hall, where he had roomed as a freshman. . . .The men’s basketball team closed its 2007–08 campaign at the JACC with a 68-55 win over Saint John’s on March 5, extending their home winning streak to 37 games, second only to the Cougars of Brigham Young. Head coach Mike Brey’s squad has been perfect at home since February 25, 2006, when they fell 80-72 to Marquette. . . . In a red carpet chat with Regis Philbin ‘53, actor George Clooney noted the ND men’s halftime advantage in this year’s home match-up against Syracuse but, alas, he had to break away to get cleaned up for the 80th Annual Academy Awards. He missed junior guard Kyle McAlarney setting the school record for three-pointers with nine. . . . Patricia McAdams ’67M.S., a longtime employee of the University and dedicated booster of the women’s basketball team, was severely injured in a January 13 accident along Interstate 69 near Fort Wayne, Indiana. News reports stated McAdams was standing between her vehicle and the guardrail in heavy winter weather when a passing car slid into hers, striking McAdams and throwing her over the rail onto the embankment. McAdams lost both legs and sustained additional injuries, but at press time friends and family reported that the beloved computer expert was responding well to physical therapy. In February, the Alumni Association presented her with the 2008 Distinguished Alumnae Award in her hospital room. Well-wishers may find updates on her condition and contact information at the “ND for Patricia” blog at . . . First Lady Laura Bush had high praise for Catholic schools and teachers in the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) program when she visited Washington D.C.‘s Holy Redeemer Catholic School in January. Once slated to close, Holy Redeemer is now one of three Magnificat Schools receiving financial support and guidance from Notre Dame. Its principal, Ben Ketchum ’97, ’99M.Ed., and several teachers are ACE graduates. . . . The front door to the White House swung both ways for Notre Dame that month, thanks to a visit set up by President Bush’s chief speechwriter, Bill McGurn ‘80. Twenty-five students in town for the annual March for Life demonstration ate breakfast at tables in the Red, Blue and Green Rooms and met the president at a reception in the East Room. . . .Blessed Father Basil Moreau shares his feast day, January 20, with a pair of 3rd-century martyrs—Pope Saint Fabian and Saint Sebastian the soldier. The University marked the first feast of the beatified founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross with a two-day conference on sainthood and a Mass concelebrated by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington D.C., in the Basilica on the anniversary of Moreau’s death in 1873. . . . Father Theodore M. Hesburgh, CSC, presided over another acknowledgment of the University’s spiritual heritage three weeks later: a Mass honoring the sesquicentennial of the apparitions of Mary at the grotto near Lourdes, France, captured since 1896 in the beloved campus replica facing Saint Mary’s Lake. . . . Notre Dame French instructor Paul McDowell told South Bend Tribune columnist Jim Meenan about his own connection to Lourdes: a visit to the holy site in the late 1990s to which he attributes—at least in part—his miraculous victory over brain cancer. . . . T*he price of instruction* at Notre Dame will climb 4.8 percent to $36,340 for the 2008-09 academic year, the lowest one-year percentage increase in tuition since 1960. . . . “Truly transformational” was how the University’s president, Father John I. Jenkins, CSC, described the $10 million gift given by Richard Notebaert, chair of the Board of Trustees, and his wife, Peggy, to establish fellowships awarded on a competitive basis to each year’s top doctoral students in science, engineering, humanities and social sciences. The Notebaert Premier Fellowships will provide up to six years of funding that will cover full tuition, health insurance and a generous stipend, and open the door to additional grants supporting travel and research. On average at least half of the fellows will be Catholic. . . . Notre Dame’s hands-on role in the global fight against extreme poverty, launched in the fall of 2006 under the auspices of the Notre Dame Millennium Development Initiative, has received a $6 million boost from trustee W. Douglas Ford. The new Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity, housed within the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, will build upon Notre Dame’s work with its Ugandan partners, particularly the villages of Nnindye and Ruhiira, with a special focus on undergraduate education rooted in Catholic social teaching and interdisciplinary research on the causes and consequences of poverty. . . . Your next Football Saturday pilgrimage for Fighting Irish gear and memorabilia should be roomier and more relaxed. The Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore is getting a 3,000-square foot bump-out. Much of the extra space will be allocated to clothing sales, but the café will be significantly larger and offer gelato, gourmet pretzels and a clearer view of the Golden Dome. . . .Town-gown relations took an important step forward with the first meeting of the Community/Campus Advisory Coalition (CCAC), a 21-member panel of city leaders, South Bend residents, and students and administrators from Notre Dame and other local colleges. Set up as an official forum for dialogue and as a possible workaround to threatened city legislation that would require students to obtain permits for large parties and set tight restrictions on football game day parking, the group wasted no time in touching on those issues as well as off-campus crime and the notion of throwing block parties to help students and their neighbors get better acquainted. . . . Remember curling up with your newsprint copy of “The Hours of Instruction” and planning out the next step in your academic career? Well, those days are over. University Registrar Harold Pace says the switch from print to electronic course schedules isn’t just a trend in higher education, “It’s a wave.” The University spent more than $8,000 to publish the undergraduate and graduate versions for Spring 2008, but the decision was made more on the basis of rapidly declining student use trends and good stewardship. Now those million-plus pages of paper may serve a better purpose. . . .Blessed may be the peacemakers, but in the future they’ll be increasingly well-trained and well-informed. The University will admit its first doctoral candidates in peace studies this fall in a “discipline-based” partnership, unique to the peace studies field, between the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, where the program will be housed, and the departments of history, political science, psychology and sociology. Meanwhile, Kroc professor John Darby is leading the development of a database projected to be “the world’s largest source of comparative data on peace agreements.” The new Peace Accords Matrix will build scholars’ knowledge of the factors behind success and failure in past peace settlements and apply it to future negotiations. . . . James “Easter” Heathman, 90, the Kansas farmer who as a teenager responded with his father and brothers to the scene of the 1931 plane crash that killed Knute Rockne, died in January after battling pneumonia. Heathman dedicated himself to honoring the memory of Rockne and the seven other crash victims, often guiding tours of the crash site and memorial for ND alumni. He received an honorary monogram and a boisterous student reception at a 2006 pep rally in Notre Dame Stadium.

John Nagy is an associate editor of this magazine. Email him at