Dame briefly led the United States’ gold medal count at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing thanks to Mariel Zagunis ‘08, shown right, who on the first day of competition repeated her best-in-class performance from the 2004 Athens games as part of a U.S. sweep of the women’s individual sabre event. Zagunis, who also earned a bronze medal in the team sabre contest, was one of nine current or former Fighting Irish athletes competing at the games. Junior Kelley Hurley was defeated in the women’s individual epée round of 32 by a South Korean opponent, while incoming freshman Gerek Meinhardt advanced to the round of 16 in the men’s individual foil. . . . In women’s soccer, Candace Chapman ‘06 of Canada scored the first goal of the games in the 27th minute of a match against Argentina, but Chapman and teammate Melissa Tancredi ’05 were stopped in the quarterfinals by the gold-medal U.S. squad that included Shannon Boxx ’99 and Kate Sobrero Markgraf ’98. In the Bird’s Nest stadium, Thomas Chamney ‘07 of Ireland finished fifth in his heat of the 800 meter race. Nigeria’s Selim Nurudeen ‘05 notched a personal best in the first round of the 110 meter hurdles event, but during the next round fell short of qualifying for the semifinals. . . . Director of bands Kenneth W. Dye reprised his own Olympic experience as assistant band director for the 1984 Los Angeles games by composing “Welcome to Beijing.” The Notre Dame Concert Band premiered the five-movement Olympic suite in May at the Beijing Concert Hall, and Dye says it was performed again during the 2008 Olympic Arts Festival by student musicians from Beijing schools. . . . He brought the 2012 Super Bowl, the Final Four and the NCAA headquarters to Indianapolis, and he’s been a leading player in sports from gymnastics to rowing to football. Now, after 25 years as a sports consultant, attorney John B. “Jack” Swarbrick Jr. ‘76 is Notre Dame’s 12th athletic director. Reaction to Swarbrick’s July 16 hire across college sports, from NCAA president Myles Brand (whose job Swarbrick was a finalist for in 2002) to the NDNation faithful, was overwhelmingly positive. Regarding his new job, Swarbrick told a prominent law blog, “We’re trying something no one’s tried before. We’re trying to become a top-tier academic university grounded in religious faith that is also among the best athletic programs in the country. I want national championships, but I want them with teams built around kids that are great students.” . . . Swarbrick inherits the second largest recruiting budget in college athletics. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, Notre Dame spent $1.76 million in its quest for top student-athletes, second only to the University of Tennessee. University officials note the national and international draw of the student body in explaining the high-end outlay. . . . The parking burden for football Saturdays is shifting north toward White Field and away from South Bend, but as students returned to campus the budget-crunched city was looking for help to cover its game-day traffic management bills. The police department says the duty cost it $116,000 over the seven home games of the 2007 season. . . . NBC and Notre Dame agreed to a five-year extension through the 2015 season of the contract that gives NBC exclusive rights to televise home football games and has underwritten $26 million in financial aid to some 2,400 Notre Dame undergraduates since the agreement was first reached in 1991. . . . A local eighth-grader added a heartening chapter to the Montana Mazurkiewicz story in August. Nichole Perkins, a friend of the 10-year-old play-caller who died of brain cancer three years ago, built an oak bookshelf for a local 4-H competition and collected 525 children’s books to fill it, donating the whole to the Memorial Hospital pediatric unit where the Mishawaka boy had battled for his life. As a wish granted by football head coach Charlie Weis ‘78, Mazurkiewicz masterminded the unorthodox but successful “pass right” play on the first snap of the 2005 Washington game, with the Fighting Irish starting deep in their own territory. He had died the day before. . . . Jack Rockne, the youngest son of Knute, class of 1914, and Bonnie Rockne, died in August in South Bend after his own battle with cancer. He was 82. Jack Rockne attended Notre Dame from 1947-49 before transferring to Utah State. . . . Indiana lawmakers have appropriated a dollar-for-dollar match to the $10 million donated by retired executive and philanthropist Charles M. “Mike” Harper to build a path-breaking cancer research center in South Bend. The Harper Cancer Institute will build on the University’s growing strengths in cancer studies by concentrating on genomics and proteomics. Harper grew up in South Bend and there met and married his wife, Josie, who died in 1999 from lung cancer. Harper Hall is scheduled to open in 2010 in a building adjacent to the one across Edison Avenue from the Main Gate that houses the Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend and the Keck Center for Transgene Research. . . . Notre Dame is in the Loop and has been since 2002 when the Mendoza College of Business first established a presence for its Executive MBA program in downtown Chicago. This fall, students began using renovated space on the second floor of the historic Santa Fe Building at 224 S. Michigan Avenue, which the University purchased in 2006. The 1904 building, designed by the architect Daniel Burnham and updated by VOA Associates, houses the Notre Dame Club of Chicago and a University development office along with other corporate and nonprofit tenants. . . . University president Rev. John I. Jenkins, CSC, ‘76 ’78M.A., was one of 57 institutional leaders selected to serve in the inaugural Chronicle of Higher Education/New York Times Higher Education Cabinet. The discussion group held its first meeting in Manhattan in September and will identify trends and challenges facing American colleges and universities. . . . The “Pastoral Musician of the Year” for 2008 composes hymns that inspire people to participate in the Mass, and few who have heard the internationally renowned Folk Choir he has led over the last 28 years will be surprised to know he resides at Notre Dame. Steven C. Warner ’80M.A. received the honor in July from the National Association of Pastoral Musicians. . . . Notre Dame is one of the 368 best undergraduate schools in the nation, or so say the Princeton Review’s annual rankings, but what’s to like? According to surveys filled out by a few hundred Domers and 120,000 of their peers across the country, the popularity of intramural sports (#1 in the nation), the religious atmosphere (#2) and a campus-wide obsession with intercollegiate athletics (#3) come to mind. Students also rated highly the beauty of the campus (#7), the quality of the food (#9) and the administration’s “smooth” operation (#14). . . . Inspired by great Roman churches such as the Gesu and San Giovanni Battista dei Fiorentini, architecture Professor Duncan Stroik’s Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe was dedicated July 31 in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, by Archbishop Raymond L. Burke of St. Louis, who launched the project in 1999 as bishop of LaCrosse. The cruciform, domed church will serve as a place of pilgrimage and devotion to the Blessed Mother as Patroness of the Americas.