Seen and heard on the Notre Dame campus

Author: Notre Dame Magazine staff

Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, CSC, and Provost Thomas Burish co-authored an October 23 Washington Post op-ed essay commenting favorably on a Harvard University committee’s recommendation that every Harvard student be required to take one course in the area of “reason and faith.” Jenkins and Burish noted that other schools would likely follow Harvard’s lead and expressed the hope that this might result in a more serious engagement of “issues of faith, religion and religious institutions” within the secular academy. The full essay may be found by typing “reason and faith at harvard” in the search box at and following the link. . . . Notre Dame now owns a Chicago landmark. The University recently purchased the Santa Fe Building on south Michigan Avenue as an endowment investment. The 1904 building, designed by the firm of the legendary Chicago city planner Daniel Burnham, houses offices of several architecture firms and the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Next year, the Mendoza College of Business will move its Chicago executive MBA program to the building. . . . Apparently a lot of benefactors believe deeply in “Our Lady’s University” and dig deeply into their wallets. Notre Dame received a record-breaking $180.7 million in cash contributions during the last fiscal year. This exceeds the previous high of $173.7 million set in 2004 when the University received its largest single contribution ever, a $50 million gift from the estate of Joan Kroc, the late widow of Ray Kroc, founder of McDonalds. . . . A record number of students—472—participated in experiential and service-learning projects during fall break. Undergraduates built houses in Appalachia, studied ways to reduce violence in Cincinnati schools and examined issues of cultural diversity in Chicago, among other things. As part of the Center for Social Concerns’ service learning program, the students reflect on their experience in academic seminars. Additionally, more than 120 Notre Dame students helped to remodel homes in New Orleans without academic credit. . . . When the football team won last September, the 60,000 fans celebrated by singing “Whether the odds be great or small, Swans will go and win over all.” Swans? No, the Irish haven’t acquired a new nickname. The Sydney Swans, a professional Australian Football League team, uses a rewritten version of the “Notre Dame Victory March” chorus as its team song. It’s all legal, since the chorus is in public domain. Apparently the Swan song works. The Sydney team won its league championship in 2005 and was runner-up in 2006. Australian football is played without pads or helmets and is more akin to rugby, with a touch of intermittent basketball-style dribbling thrown in to confuse the non-Aussies. . . . Twenty sculptures by the late American artist George Rickey will be permanently installed in the Snite Museum of Art’s sculpture courtyard and entrance atrium next summer. Rickey, an internationally renowned artist and South Bend native, was known for creating graceful, kinetic stainless steel forms propelled by air currents and gravity. The George Rickey Foundation recently reached an agreement with Notre Dame to permanently place Rickey’s artwork and archival material in the University’s care. The material includes his correspondence and published and unpublished works. . . . The term “bump” in volleyball refers to a type of pass, but the bumps the Notre Dame women’s team felt last October 15 came from the Earth quaking in Hawaii. The team was on the island of Oahu to play two games against the University of Hawaii. Fortunately, no one was injured by the 6.7 temblor; unfortunately, Notre Dame lost both matches. . . . A “lost” mural depicting Father Sorin officiating at the wedding of a Potawatomi Indian couple found last year in a Saint Edward’s Hall storage closet has been restored and is now displayed in the dorm’s second-floor study lounge. The mural, by artist Luigi Gregori, dates to 1882. Gregori painted murals in the Main Building, the Dome interior and Sacred Heart Basilica. . . . Domers do like to chomp down on sub sandwiches. During the academic year, the Subway Sandwich shop located in LaFortune Student Center reports it has been No. 1 in the Subway sales region that includes northern Indiana, northern Ohio and parts of Illinois excluding Chicago. Nationally, the ND Subway has ranked as high as third in sales. . . . Win One For the Gipper, a new film about Notre Dame’s legendary first All-American George Gipp, with Brady Quinn in the title role, will be at a theater near you next year—if Roger Corman has his way. The Hollywood filmmaker, who is known mainly for such camp classics as Little Shop of Horrors, Vampirella and Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women_, wrote to Quinn last fall, offering him the role. As of press time, however, Quinn hadn’t commented on the offer. . . . Dying to Live: A Migrant’s Journey may not be appearing in a theater near you, but last fall Father Dan Groody’s critically acclaimed 33-minute documentary on Mexican immigrants had a showing on Capitol Hill for members of Congress and also was shown at the Australian Film Festival and the New Way Media Festival. A Notre Dame assistant professor of theology and the film’s executive producer, Groody created the film to examine the immigration question from a religious perspective. More information can be found at . . . Who wants to be a millionaire? Senior Dan Keough had his chance last summer. After auditioning for the syndicated TV quiz show named for that question and learning he had been selected, the marketing and film double major spent three weeks studying random facts and online transcripts of old episodes. Alas, when the show aired in September all that cramming wasn’t enough to make him a millionaire. But the senior from Chattanooga, Tennessee, did win $50,000. . . . While Keough may have wanted to be a millionaire, Dr. Zilda Arns Neumann actually became one at Notre Dame on November 8. Father Jenkins presented her with the $1 million Opus Prize at an invitational dinner in the Joyce Center that night. The Opus Prize is underwritten by the Opus Group, a national real estate development company, and is awarded annually to a person “who combines a driving entrepreneurial spirit with an abiding faith to combat poverty, illiteracy, hunger, disease and injustice.” Arns Neumann founded Pastoral da Criança, a Brazilian church-related group that combines local community organizing with public health initiatives to promote healthy children. Dr. Arns Neumann is the sister of the former archbishop of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns. . . . Among others honored at the Opus Prize dinner was Notre Dame junior Benjamin Gunty, who helped found Artisan Opportunities International, a company that helps poor Nicaraguan artisans by marketing their furniture and other products in the United States. Gunty also co-founded the online magazine Rippleseed (, which reports on successful efforts of nonprofit organizations. . . . Another Notre Dame person recently singled out for his work in Nicaragua is John Paul Lederach, who received the Order of the Culture of Peace award from the Polytechnical University of Nicaragua for his peace-building work. In the 1980s the Kroc Institute researcher served with the Mennonite Central Committee’s Peace Portfolio program and worked as a member of the Conciliation Commission, which mediated between the Sandinista government and an armed rebel movement known as Yatama. . . . There may have been a dusting of snow on the ground, but that didn’t stop Father Jenkins or the University’s Executive Vice President John Affleck-Graves from running two miles through campus with members of the University’s ROTC programs on October 24. The avid runners set the pace for the cadets in Notre Dame’s annual Tri-Military Command Run. . . .Notre Dame’s College of Engineering will gain some additional female students next year. Under a new agreement with Saint Mary’s College, science and math majors from the women’s school will be eligible to apply for the dual-degree “4 plus 1” program in which Saint Mary’s students study a fifth year at Notre Dame and can earn an engineering degree in any one of several fields, including areospace, chemical, mechanical, electrical, civil or computer engineering, computer science or environmental geoscience. . . . A new website offering assistance to students experiencing an unplanned pregnancy was launched last fall by the Office of Student Affairs. The website,, features details of the University’s policy regarding pregnancy (“Notre Dame is committed to life and to providing resources that support the choices of life”) and offers information on available counseling and assistance programs. . . . Normally, Susan Soisson, an assistant program manager in Notre Dame’s Division of Student Affairs and the advisor for the Student International Business Council, doesn’t have to contend with 130-degree temperatures and constant power outages. However, now on military leave from Notre Dame, Lieutenant Colonel Soisson is stationed at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait with the Army’s 336th Transportation Group. Her unit transports supplies to military bases in Iraq. The mother of four children ages 10 to 15 hopes to return home in July in time for her youngest daughter’s 11th birthday. . . .The campus was saddened in November by the death of senior Caitlin Brann. The marketing major died in a car crash west of LaPorte on the Indiana toll road in the early morning hours of November 10. The student from Orland Park, Illinois lost control of her car when a rear tire blew out causing the convertible to flip several times, become airborne and sideswipe a truck in the eastbound lanes. Alcohol appeared to be a contributing factor in the accident. More than 200 students gathered with Brann’s parents for a candle light memorial service at the Grotto and a memorial Mass was held in the off-campus student’s former dorm, Pasquirella East. She had been active in the Center for Social Concerns and in the summer of 2005 worked with severely disabled students in a Summer Service Project. . . . If Reckers, the South Dining Hall café, looked like a refuge for errant Viking intellectuals one night last semester, you can blame Professor Thomas Hall. Resplendent in his horned Viking helmet, the English prof gave a spirited reading from the epic poem Beowulf during “Lectio at Eleven,” a new late-night event featuring readings and music.