Seen and heard on the Notre Dame campus

Author: John Monczunsk

The first tangible sign of the Eddy Street Commons “college town” development sprang up in July, just days after the South Bend Common Council approved rezoning 25 acres south of campus for the $200 million project. A fence was erected along Edison Road emblazoned with townhouse images, a phone number for leasing information and the slogan “Live, Shop, Relax, Work, Enjoy.” Behind the fence, contractors working for Kite Realty Group of Indianapolis began clearing the area formerly known as the Notre Dame Woods. The development, which will run along Eddy Street and east into the Notre Dame property, will include shops, restaurants, two hotels, 250 apartments, 80 town homes and some 120 condominiums. The first phase, including the hotels, commercial space and apartments, is scheduled for a summer 2009 completion. Town homes and condos will be completed in phases from 2009 to 2011. . . . Unfortunately, several Notre Dame students were victims of crimes just as school began in August. In the more serious incident, two Notre Dame seniors were shot on August 21 while standing outside Club 23, a popular bar south of campus. The incident began, according to the students, when a man, unknown to them, approached and asked for a ride. A “harsh” conversation ensued when they turned him down, and he left. A few minutes later the man returned as a passenger in an SUV and said, “Thanks for the ride you [expletive] Notre Dame students,” and fired five shots. Matthew Collins was struck in the abdomen and leg while Mitchell Depree received a minor leg wound. William Kirk, associate vice president for residence life and housing, visited the students in the hospital immediately that morning and offered the families assistance. Fortunately, both Collins and Depree are expected to recover from their injuries and were able to enroll for the fall term. The bullet in Collins’ abdomen, however, was too risky to remove and remains in place. As of press time, South Bend police had not yet apprehended the assailant and the investigation continues. . . . A few days before the shootings two Notre Dame students were robbed in separate incidents at the Turtle Creek apartment complex just east of campus. On the evening of August 17, a 21-year-old female student and her male friend were robbed when a gunman and his companion stormed into her apartment after she opened the door. Several hours later, a male Notre Dame student was forced at gunpoint to carry a TV set from a nearby apartment to the burglars’ getaway car. As the semester began, Notre Dame Security Police sent a safety advisory to all students warning of the incidents and outlining safety measures. Both University and South Bend police officers patrol student neighborhoods near campus. . . . The annual U.S. News & World Report college rankings placed Notre Dame at 19th, tied with Vanderbilt, just ahead of the University of California-Berkeley and behind Rice and Emory universities. . . . Notre Dame was ranked second, behind the University of Texas, in the Princeton Review’s “job placement” category. The excellent rating comes as no surprise to Lee Svete, director of Notre Dame’s Career Center. Svete reports the center had a record-breaking 4,600 appointments with students and young alumni last year. Reflecting that record, by May more than 88 percent of the Class of 2007 had firm plans for employment or further education. . . . Not only are Notre Dame grads getting jobs, they’re making good money as well. The median salary offer this year for engineering grads was $57,500, for business $55,000, science $53,000, architecture $45,500, and arts and letters, $45,000. . . . Some ND professors are in the money, too, to the tune of a few million dollars in one case. Over the summer, philosophy Professor Michael Detlefsen learned that he had been named to a Senior Chaire d’Excellence by the French National Research Agency (ANR). The chair, supported by the ANR and three French universities, is valued at $2.4 million and will require the ND authority on logic and the history and philosophy of mathematics to spend time working each year through 2011 at institutions in France. Meanwhile, physics Associate Professor Peter Garnavich was awarded a share of the $500,000 Gruber Prize in Cosmology for his work with a team of physicists who in 1998 reported that, contrary to conventional wisdom, the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate rather than decelerating. Garnavich’s share of the prize was modest because the 20 physicists on his team had to share the prize with a competing team that made the same discovery at about the same time. . . . Where did those artsy signs come from? Beginning in May and continuing over the summer, more than 350 colorful, little, blue, white and aqua signs popped up all across campus. The plaques, all adjacent to street drains, bear images of ducks, a water tap, fish and waves. They admonish, “Don’t pollute. Flows to waterways.” So is some commando environmental group or guerrilla artist behind the street art? No, the signs were placed by Notre Dame’s Department of Utilities as part of the University’s environmental plan in compliance with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s storm water rules. “We put them out just to make people aware that what goes in these drains ends up in the lakes and the Saint Joe River,” says Paul Kempf, director of Notre Dame utilities. “It’s not in response to any particular problem.” . . . Ruthann Johansen, an ND professor of liberal studies and fellow of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, has been named president of Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Indiana. . . . The tragic mass murder of students at Virginia Tech last spring underscores the importance of emergency communication. With that in mind, over the summer months the University installed “Connect-Ed,” a sophisticated system that employs multiple electronic channels to reach students and faculty in the event of an emergency. Using contact information from electronic campus directories, the system can send voice or text messages to cell phones, office phones, home phones and email. The same message can be sent to six phone numbers and two email addresses per person. . . . The Katrina Cottage is not just for hurricane relief any more. The handsome, small homes, designed by Notre Dame alumna architect Marianne Cusato ‘97 as emergency housing in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, have become popular across the country. So popular, in fact, that Lowe’s, the building supply store, is now selling plans for the homes, which range in size from 500 to 1,000 square feet. The store says many buyers are using the $700 plans to build summer homes and “granny flats” for aging parents. . . . When Suzanne Brzezinski died in June, the outpouring of sympathy offered a reminder of the bonds that often develop between Domers and the University’s housekeeping staff. Brzezinski had worked at Notre Dame for more than 20 years, cleaning rooms in Morrissey and Lyons halls and most recently tending the Eck Center. Jaime Cripe ‘89M.A., who manages the visitor center there, says countless alumni, who had known Brzezinski as undergrads and would look her up when back on campus, flooded the visitor center with cards, notes and phone calls when they heard of her sudden passing. “Sue touched the hearts of students, alumni and staff,” says Cripe. "No visitor ever came here without being impressed by Sue’s obvious pride in the building and her sunny nature and impish sense of humor.". . . The sculptor of the 18-foot-tall statue of Moses at the west entrance of the Hesburgh Library, popularly known as “First Down Moses” or “We’re No. 1 Moses” died in July at his home in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Joseph Turkaly, 82, had been an assistant to the famed Notre Dame sculptor Ivan Mestrovic and taught at the university for two years after Mestrovic’s 1962 death. The Croatian immigrant went on to a successful art career himself. His sculptures are in public and private collections in the United States, Canada, Italy, Croatia and Argentina. . . . Notre Dame senior Mariel Zagunis, who won a gold medal in women’s saber at the 2004 Olympics, has taken a leave of absence from the University to train full time with members of the U.S. fencing team for the 2008 games in Beijing. Zagunis, who was featured in a segment of the August 8, 2007, Today Show on NBC, currently is ranked third in the world for women’s saber. She plans to return to ND next fall. . .Oh the horror, oh the sacrilege! While on vacation last summer, Associate Editor John Monczunski passed through Saint Edward, Nebraska, the tiny farm community (population 796) that South Bend’s A.T. Coquillard platted in 1876 and named in honor of his friend and Notre Dame’s founder, Father Edward Sorin, CSC. While there, Monczunski stopped at the Bank of Saint Edward and saw a massive photo mural titled “The Stadium.” Given the town’s historical ND connection, he expected it to be the House that Rockne Built. Scandalously, however, the mural depicts Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, home of the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers football team. The bank’s lone teller said she thought the former pastor of Saint Edward’s Catholic Church might be a Fighting Irish fan, but personally she didn’t know of any others. Father Sorin can’t be happy with his wayward town.