Seen and Heard on the Notre Dame Campus

Author: Spring 2007

Richard C. Notebaert, the Denver, Colorado-based chairman and CEO of Qwest Communications International Inc., was elected the sixth chairman of the University’s Board of Trustees in February. His three-year term begins July 1. An alumnus of the University of Wisconsin, where he earned a bachelor’s degree as well as a master’s degree in business administration, Notebaert is no newcomer to the University. His election follows 10 years of service on the board, for which he chairs the University Relations and Public Affairs and Communications Committee. He is also one of the University’s 12 fellows, the top governing body of the University that consists of six Holy Cross priests and six lay members. The fellows elect the trustees, adopt and amend bylaws and are charged with maintaining Notre Dame’s Catholic character, a priority Notebaert emphasized in the announcement of his new responsibilities. Notebaert has been widely praised in the telecommunications industry for resurrecting Qwest, then one of the four Regional Bell Operating Companies, from financial ruin since joining the firm as its top executive in 2002. He also serves on President George W. Bush’s National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee. He succeeds Patrick F. McCartan, an 18-year veteran of the Board of Trustees who served as its chairman for the past seven years. . . . Notre Dame may have lost the Sugar Bowl in January, but the University won the gratitude and respect of residents of the Katrina-ravaged Gulf Coast for the myriad ways the school has offered assistance since the disaster. The week before the Sugar Bowl, nearly 400 ND students, faculty, staff and alumni led by Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins, CSC, participated in a day of service. Volunteers, including Coach Charlie Weis and members of the football team, helped clean up hurricane damage at Hope Haven Center, a home for troubled children, in Marrero, Louisiana. In addition, more than 100 ND volunteers painted, raked, planted and spruced up a New Orleans park. Earlier, the University collected $314,000 in donations, and more than 250 students have volunteered during spring and fall breaks. Meanwhile ND alumni built a Habitat for Humanity house and School of Architecture faculty and students have provided design assistance for residents of Biloxi and D’Iberville, Mississippi. In February, Louisana Governor Kathleen Blanco appointed Joannes J.Westerink, a Notre Dame civil engineering professor, to the Southeast Louisana Flood Protection Authority—West Bank. He is an international authority on predicting the effects of storm surge via computer models. . . . It was water, water everywhere from the basement to the third floor of the Hesburgh Library on February 5 when a pipe burst because of subzero weather. Fortunately, only 1,500 books were “slightly to moderately” damaged. A few of the books had to be freeze-dried. That same week, pipes burst twice in Keough Hall, causing minimal damage. . . . It wasn’t water but natural gas spewing from the ground a week later near the Hesburgh Library. The gas leak, which led to the evacuation of seven nearby buildings, was caused when a backhoe severed a gas line. There were no injuries from the accident. . . . The Holy Cross Associates, a year- or two-year-long post college lay service program begun in 1978, will be discontinued in 2007, the Indiana Province of the Congregation of Holy Cross recently announced. Last year only 12 volunteers applied for the domestic program in which recent college graduates live in a Christian community and serve in parishes, homeless centers, schools and other agencies in the United States and Chile. The congregation has set up a task force to re-envision its lay program, which is expected to re-emerge after a one-year hiatus. . . . The Vagina Monologues, the controversial play about women’s sexuality and violence against women that launched a University-wide debate about academic freedom last year, was not performed on campus this year. Student organizers moved the March production to South Bend’s First Unitarian Church after they were unable to secure University departmental sponsorship. Opponents of the play, which is performed annually on college campuses as part of the antiviolence “V-Day Campaign,” have argued that it presents a view of sexuality inconsistent with Catholic teaching. Last November, Notre Dame students produced Loyal Daughters, a student-written play specifically addressing the experiences of Notre Dame students on the issue. Also, in February, the Edith Stein Project presented a conference focused on healing victims of violence toward women. Additionally, a panel discussion entitled “Sex and the City of God,” was presented to relate Catholic teaching to sexual morality, feminism and family life. . . . For the first time this year, Notre Dame will hold a separate commencement ceremony for the Graduate School, and both graduate and undergraduate degree recipients will benefit. Doctoral and master’s degree recipients will be honored individually at the new ceremony, so the main commencement ceremony for undergraduates will be about a half hour shorter and more tickets should be available. . . . That little building with the wavy roof and barrel-vaulted ceilings next to McKenna Hall, where faculty, staff, alumni and community members have gathered for food and drink since 1968, will be history by August 31. In January, the Notre Dame administration notified the independent “members-only” University Club that it would be necessary to demolish its distinctive clubhouse to make way for the College of Engineering’s new $69.4 million Stinson-Remick Hall. As of press time, a future home for the club had not been determined. . . . Notre Dame has made significant progress in attracting black and other minority students, according to a recent survey by The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. The journal praised the University’s increased efforts at outreach and financial aid, which have contributed to a 10 percent jump in African-American applicants and a 44 percent increase in the enrollment black students. Notre Dame was second only to the University of Chicago, which posted a 52 percent enrollment increase. . . . Father Jenkins returned to the classroom as a teacher this spring. Along with theology Professor Larry Cunningham, Notre Dame’s president taught a one-credit-hour course on Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical God is Love. Each of the five Sunday afternoon sessions in the Coleman-Morse Center was followed by Vespers in Sacred Heart Basilica. . . . Development of Eddy Street Commons, the mixed use commercial/residential district to be constructed along Eddy Street south of campus, took a step closer to reality as the University signed an agreement with the Kite Realty Group Trust of Indianapolis in February. Plans include space for shops, restaurants, offices, apartments, condominiums and townhouses. A 150-room hotel with conference facilities also is part of the design. Ground will be broken for the 30-acre area development either late this year or early in 2008. . . . Notre Dame grads appear to be great credit risks. According to the most recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Education, Notre Dame alums have one of the lowest default rates in higher education, with only one in 300 defaulting on their student loans. In comparison, the rates for Boston College and Northwestern University are three times higher than Notre Dame’s. . . . Can you say jackpot? When the Internet search engine company Google recently merged with the video-posting website YouTube, Notre Dame’s endowment, which held 39,848 shares of Google, saw the value of those shares climb to $18.8 million. . . . The Fighting Irish football team is the most valuable collegiate franchise in the country, says Forbes magazine. If you could buy it, the price tag would be $97 million, according to columnists Jack Gage and Peter J. Schwartz, who recently evaluated the top 15 teams in the country. The Texas Longhorns were valued second at $88 million, followed by Georgia ($84 million), and Michigan ($81 million). The Forbes writers estimated that the ND football program generates $46.7 million per year for the University and has a $57 million impact on the local economy. Press reports place football coach Charlie Weis’ compensation at about $3.5 million per year. . . . The medical malpractice lawsuit brought by Coach Weis against several doctors ended in a mistrial in February when a juror collapsed and two of the defendant doctors rushed to his aid. Weis sued the two surgeons, contending they were negligent in not recognizing internal bleeding and infection after his bariatric surgery several years ago. The case will be rescheduled. . . . In another lawsuit, involving an “almost” Notre Dame faculty member, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion in February to strike down a provision of the Patriot Act that gives the U.S. government authority to deny foreign scholars entry to the country for ideological reasons. Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss Muslim scholar who was set to join Notre Dame’s Kroc peace institute faculty in 2004 but was abruptly denied entry, is the most celebrated example of the exclusion. Under the provision, those who have “endorsed or espoused” terrorism may be denied entry to the United States. Government officials never presented evidence supporting the charge against Ramdan and later dropped the allegation. However, nothing changed for the academic, who now has a position at Oxford. In September, the State Department said the Muslim academic was being denied entry to the United States because he had donated about $700 from 1998 to 2000 to two charitable groups that provide humanitarian aid to Palestinians and material aid to the terrorist organization Hamas. The ACLU argued that since the U.S. government didn’t blacklist the charities until 2003, Ramadan’s donations could not be used against him because they were permitted at the time he made them. . . . Let Brown (and Braun) do it. Apparently, that was the thinking of the Student Senate as the first all-female ticket for student body president and vice president in Notre Dame history was elected in February. Junior Elizabeth Brown and sophomore Maris Braun were elected president and vice president respectively in a 15-13 vote. The Student Senate made the choice because neither of the top two tickets received the necessary percentage of votes in the general student election. Elizabeth Brown succeeds Lizzi Shappell as student body president. Brooke Norton Lais ’02 was elected Notre Dame’s first female student body president in 2001. . . . “Tommy Z,” aka Tom Zbikowski, the Fighting Irish football team’s third-team All-American strong safety, fought Chicago heavyweight Kevin Murphy in a March 6 four-round exhibition boxing match at South Bend’s Century Center to raise funds for Hannah & Friends, Coach Charlie Weis’ charity foundation for children with development disorders named for his daughter, and the Make-a-Wish and Cystic Fibrosis foundations. . . . The University’s Center for Social Concerns and the Institute for Church Life will have a new home. Construction is expected to begin next spring on Geddes Hall, a 64,000-square-foot building at the site of the current Center for Social Concerns. The building is being funded by gifts totaling $14 million from Sheila and Michael Geddes and Mary and Thomas Cabot. The Center for Social Concerns was founded in 1983 to coordinate community-based learning, research and service opportunities for students. The Institute for Church Life was established in 1976 as the Institute for Pastoral and Social Ministry to provide Church leaders with training, service and programs for spiritual rejuvenation and growth. . . . All you tree aficionados will be happy to know that Notre Dame’s campus is home to 15 of the 50 largest trees native to Saint Joseph County, according to the county’s Parks Department. . . . If you’re a Ph.D. student in political science, the odds are good that you may mention Notre Dame professors Scott Mainwaring and Guillermo O’Donnell in your work. According to the journal PS: Political Science & Politics, O’Donnell is the seventh-most cited scholar among those who received their doctorates from 1970 to 1974, while Mainwaring is ranked 15th among those who earned doctorates between 1980 and 1984. . . . The California legislature has appointed Teresa Ghilarducci, ND professor of economics and policy studies, to a new 12-member commission charged with finding solutions to the financial crisis in the state’s public employee pension system. It is estimated that California owes between $40 and $70 billion in unfunded obligations.