Seen and heard on the Notre Dame campus

Author: Notre Dame Magazine

Compiled by John Monczunski


Sacred Heart Basilica underwent an unscheduled renovation on May 15, 2007, when high winds from a severe thunderstorm knocked one of four small spires from the church’s bell tower to the ground in a shower of bricks and mortar. The following week the three remaining spires were removed from the steeple as a precaution. The spires will be replaced at some future date after structural engineers have redesigned them to prevent a recurrence of the accident. The storm, which severely damaged 30 trees across campus, especially around the Grotto and “Domehenge,” also caused the top of a four-story pine tree to crash into the church, damaging two stained glass windows. . . . Notre Dame head football coach Charlie Weis ’78 and his wife, Maura, won unanimous approval from the Saint Joseph County Council in May to allow construction of a residential center for developmentally disabled adults on a 30-acre site north of South Bend. The complex will include up to 16 group homes, housing four adults apiece, plus a recreation center and quarters for caretakers. The center is a project of the nonprofit Hannah & Friends foundation established by the Weis family and named after their 12-year-old special needs daughter. . . . Professor Mark Roche, who has been dean of Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters for 10 years, announced in May that he will step down from that position as of June 30, 2008. He will continue as a professor of German languages and literature and of philosophy. . . . It was double Jeopardy for Notre Dame freshmen this spring, as Christine Kennedy finished third in the 2007 Jeopardy! College Championship, which aired in May. For her efforts, Kennedy walked away with $25,000. Earlier in March, Courtney Smotherman won $1,000 on the show . . . . The bar for admission to Notre Dame continues to rise ever higher. A record number of students—14,501—applied to Notre Dame for undergraduate admission this year. The figure breaks the previous record set a year ago by more than 1,700 applicants. Of those offered admission, 52 had perfect SAT or ACT scores and ranked in the top 4.2 percent of their high school class. However, such numbers aren’t the only criteria for admission, as demonstrated by the fact that of 868 applicants ranked first in their class only 427 were offered a position in the Class of 2011. . . . The verdant Notre Dame campus soon will become even more verde, as a forest of more than 450 trees will be planted on campus in the coming months. More than 100 trees, mostly elms, will restore the shade of the South Quad, long known for the large elms and maples gracing its walkways until Dutch elm disease decimated the trees there during the 1980s. The greening of the South Quad has been underwritten by a gift from an anonymous benefactor. Meanwhile, more than 350 trees and other shrubs are being planted this summer along the former Juniper Road corridor, which formerly cut through campus. . . . Construction of two limestone and brick mausoleums and a columbarium will be completed this summer at Notre Dame’s Cedar Grove Cemetery. This will allow alumni to make Notre Dame their final resting place for the first time since the 1970s, when intenment in the cemetery was limited to ND employees and retirees. The new mausoleums will contain 144 full-body crypts and the columbarium will offer 528 niches for cremated remains. . . . Despite a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Midwest regional final in March, history will note that this is the year Notre Dame hockey came of age. In a stunning season, Coach Jeff Jackson’s 32-7-3 Irish icers earned their first No. 1 national ranking, first league championship and first league playoff title, tallying the most season wins ever. In recognition of his team’s accomplishment, Jackson was presented the American Hockey Coaches Association’s Spencer Penrose Award honoring the Division I hockey coach of the year. . . . Meanwhile the Irish women’s soccer team experienced its share of heartache and frustration. The Irish women proved once again they were a force to be reckoned with, going undefeated in regular season play, posting a 20-0-1 record, winning the Big East tournament and outscoring their first five NCAA opponents 17-2. The list of achievements came to an abrupt halt when the team lost 2-1 to the University of North Carolina in the NCCA finals. . . . Notre Dame men’s basketball coach Mike Brey was coaching on the road in May. Really on the road. As in Kuwait. Brey took part in Operation Hardwood IV, a seven day tour of U.S. troops by several college basketball coaches, including Brey, Skip Prosser of Wake Forest and Dennis Felton of Georgia. Brey and his colleagues met with soldiers and each coached a team in a tournament there. . . . At least one friendly face was in the crowd at the Kuwait basketball tournament: Lt.. Col Susan Soisson, who is an assistant program manager in Notre Dame’s Division of Student Affairs, sat behind Brey’s bench for his team’s first two games. Soisson, an Army Reserves officer, was scheduled to finished her one-year Kuwait tour in July. Earlier she was reunited with her family via satellite as part of a Mother’s Day segment honoring “magnificent moms” on NBC’s Today show. . . . Pope Benedict XVI’s newly published book, Jesus of Nazareth, described as his “personal search for the face of the Lord,” singles out Notre Dame’s Warren Professor of Theology Father John P. Meier for praise, and in the process proves that a pope can make a mistake when not speaking ex cathedra. Referring to Meier’s book, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, the pope wrote, “This multi-volume work by an American Jesuit represents in many ways a model of historical critical exegesis, and clearly displays both the importance and the limitations of this discipline.” A great cover blurb, for sure, except that Meier is a priest of the archdiocese of New York, not a Jesuit. Still, it’s not every day a theologian receives a papal compliment, and Meier said he’s much too honored to mind the misidentification. . . . Notre Dame’s Marching Band helped a youth band from a ghetto in Kingston, Jamaica, wake up some echoes and shake down a little thunder this May. Kenneth Dye, director of bands, sent three assistant directors, Sam Sanchez ’98, ’05M.A., Matt Merten ’05M.A. and Emmett O’Leary, to the Carribean island for about a week to help the band develop its music and marching skills. The Sea View Gardens Band includes musicians from age 6 to 26 and is supported by Jamaica’s Saint Patrick’s Foundation, an organization that operates community centers and hospitals on the island. During 10-hour days that the enthusiastic band members wanted to extend even longer, the Notre Dame trio also taught the group a theme song they’d developed for the band. The Notre Dame band’s involvement began three years ago when Ken Dye visited the community center at the behest of former provost Nathan Hatch. Dye forged a relationship with the band and convinced two music stores to donate 50 new instruments. ND alumni provided 20 like-new instruments. . . . Ground was broken in March for Duncan Hall, a three-story men’s dormitory that will house 232 undergraduates. The residence hall, funded by a donation from Raymond Duncan ’52, will be located on West Quad, south of Pangborn Hall. The dorm, the first to be constructed in a decade, will feature a vaulted chapel on the second floor, and single-, double-, triple- and four-person rooms. Each four-person suite will include a private bathroom. The residence hall is scheduled to open in August 2008. . . . If Chicago wins its bid to host the 2016 Olympics, Notre Dame might be the site for some of the competition, most likely preliminary basketball games, according to Patrick Ryan, Olympic bid committee chairman. The committee recently visited the University to check out facilities. . . . A bronze statue of a 19th century Irish immigrant woman carrying a baby was recently installed in Notre Dame’s Eck Visitors’ Center. The statue, by noted sculptor Glenna Goodacre, whose works include Washington D.C.‘s Vietnam Women’s Memorial and the design for the Sacagawea dollar coin minted in 1999, is a gift of Frank O’Brien ’57 and his family. The statue is a memorial to O’Brien’s son, Frank O’Brien III ’88, who died of cancer last December. He played hockey at Notre Dame and later professionally in the United States and Sweden. Father Jenkins concelebrated his funeral Mass in Albany, New York. . . . The names of Sister Jean Lenz, OSF, ’67M.A., Notre Dame assistant vice president for student affairs, and the late Father Anthony J. Lauck, CSC, ’42, who was a professor of art, have been added to the University’s “Wall of Honor,” located on the ground floor of the Main Building. The Wall of Honor was instituted in 1999 when the Main Building reopened after a two-year renovation. It honors men and women whose contributions to the University have been “lasting, pervasive and profound.” Sister Jean was rector of Farley Hall for 10 years from 1973 to 1983 and has been an assistant vice president of student affairs since 1984. Father Lauck, who died in 2001, taught art at Notre Dame from 1950 until his retirement in1973. An accomplished sculptor, many of his works grace the campus, including Our Lady of the University at the Main Circle and the statue of the Visitation on the south side of the Eck Visitors’ Center. . . . The tragic murder of 32 students and faculty at Virginia Tech on April 16 elicited an outpouring of sympathy and empathy on the Notre Dame campus. A memorial Mass for victims of the massacre the following day drew a standing-room-only congregation to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart with the overflow filling the vestibule. The next day Student Government organized a candlelight rosary service in the Grotto and gathered student signatures on posters sent to the school as a sign of solidarity. In the days following the tragedy the orange and maroon Tech colors abounded on campus in clothing choices and memorial ribbons. . . . In the wake of the tragedy Notre Dame’s President Father John Jenkins, CSC, sent an email to the University community outlining the various security resources Notre Dame has in place to deal with crisis situations. He also announced an innovative communications strategy in which students who provide their personal cell phone numbers to the University would receive a text message alert in the event of an emergency. A pilot version of the program began this spring. If it proves successful, the full service will be implemented in the fall.