Seen & heard

Author: The editors

Brazilian judge Sérgio Moro became the first recipient of the Notre Dame Award in nearly two decades in October, and he will collect an honorary degree from the University in May when he serves as commencement speaker.


Notre Dame’s President Rev. John I. Jenkins, CSC, ’76, ’78M.A., traveled to São Paulo to present Moro with the award, which recognizes the judge’s celebrated anti-corruption efforts in South America’s largest country. A leader in investigations that have led to the conviction of oil and construction executives and government officials including former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Moro has been described in The New York Times as “the face of national reckoning for Brazil’s ruling class.”


Operation Car Wash, as the investigation in the judge’s home city of Curitiba has been called, exposed “a kickbacks-for-contracts scam extending across Latin America,” NPR reported. Moro’s work to punish scofflaws has transformed him from an obscure federal judge into a popular national figure and, Jenkins said, provided international inspiration.


“As a result of Dr. Moro’s good work, Brazil, instead of being infamous for corruption, has become a beacon for the rest of the hemisphere on how to fight it,” Jenkins said in bestowing the prize, given to those whose lives exemplify the University’s ideals of “faith, inquiry, education, justice, public service, peace and care for the most vulnerable.”


Last presented in 2000, the Notre Dame Award originated with the University’s sesquicentennial in 1992 and was reinstated this year as part of the 175th anniversary commemorations. Past recipients include Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume of Northern Ireland, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, and Mother Teresa.



Notre Dame University Bangladesh received its government license four years ago, expanding the Congregation of Holy Cross’ educational efforts in the South Asian country that began in 1949 with two preparatory schools, Notre Dame College for men and Holy Cross College for women.


The university’s first class of undergraduates will receive degrees in 2018, but the ceremony could hardly exceed the pomp and circumstance that accompanied a December 2 visit from Pope Francis.


Concluding a five-day visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh, the pope blessed the cornerstones of the university and neighboring Notre Dame College — the equivalent to an American high school — both located in Dhaka. NDUB President Rev. Patrick Gaffney, CSC, ’69, ’73M.A., said the occasion will serve as “the inspiration, the guidance and the vision,” for the new university.


Ten thousand children from Catholic schools around the region cheered Pope Francis’ arrival, and students from Holy Cross College and Notre Dame College sang and danced for him in traditional costume. The pope commended the assembled youth, most of whom are Muslim, for fostering “an environment of harmony, of reaching out to others, regardless of your religious differences.”



With website categories like “Navigate Life,” “Make an Impact” and “Keep the Faith” and social-media links to stories of #wholeness and #awe as well as #bourbon, the new Grotto Network offers millennials who seek meaning a multiplicity of platforms to find it.


The multimedia network, which debuted at on November 26, the day that officially marked the 175th anniversary of the University’s founding, is designed for Catholic young adults who wish to connect to their religious tradition online.


“There is no mistaking the pastoral challenge that the Catholic Church and other religious communities are facing today,” Father Lies said. “Despite changes in religious practice, young people still long for meaning. Grotto Network will seek to increase young people’s attentiveness to how the hand of God is at work in their lives.”



If a genuinely diverse student body reflects the general U.S. population, says Regan Jones, director of Notre Dame’s new Office of Military and Veterans Affairs, there should be about a dozen undergraduates in each class year who have served in the nation’s armed forces. Yet military service is not typically in the background of even such a small population of Notre Dame students. Jones, who served with the Marines in Iraq and received a Purple Heart, will lead the University’s efforts to attract and support more veterans, active-duty soldiers and military spouses and children who are pursuing higher education.


The task requires targeted attention. Soldiers and veterans tend to be older than traditional students. Many are married and have families and often lack the academic track record of classmates who enter Notre Dame straight out of high school. The new office is designed to provide the assistance this unique group of students needs to integrate into the student body and flourish in the classroom.


Dating back to the days before the Civil War, Notre Dame has had extensive connections to the U.S. military. A Navy program during World War II brought 12,000 officers-in-training to campus and helped keep Notre Dame financially afloat at a time when two-thirds of the student body had enlisted. Vetville, the postwar housing complex for World War II veterans and their families, helped facilitate the education of returning service members. And the ROTC program has commissioned Army, Navy and Air Force officers since the 1950s.


“With this new office,” Provost Thomas G. Burish ’72 said, “we will further strengthen our commitment to serving those who have given so much to our nation and the University.”



Chiefs of staff to two former U.S. presidents spoke October 4 at the Notre Dame Forum on the globalization of the University. Denis McDonough, an executive fellow at the Keough School of Global Affairs during the fall semester, worked for President Barack Obama. Andrew Card is the longest-serving chief of staff in history, working for six years under President George W. Bush — who himself made a private visit to campus for the October 27 dedication of O’Neill Hall.


Maura Policelli, executive director of Notre Dame’s Washington-based Global Policy Initiative, moderated the discussion between McDonough and Card. The pair focused on foreign policy, including the role of faith in addressing the world’s problems — a distinctive academic focal point of the new Keough School.


Card said the Catholic Church “has a responsibility to create a climate of justice and to be engaged. I’m a witness as to how the missionary work of the Catholic Church has transformed, yes, individuals, but more significantly, peoples.”



To be a truly international institution, Father Jenkins has said, requires more than hanging a shingle here and there around the world. It demands deep engagement in the places Notre Dame calls home, from South Bend to Beijing.


Jenkins made that statement during a November visit to Dublin for the opening of the Notre Dame-Newman Centre for Faith and Reason. At the invitation of Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, the University agreed to establish the center, with a mission to engage young professionals, at the historic Newman University Church.


Rev. William R. Dailey, CSC, ’94, ’00M.Div., directs the center, which opened with events including a Mass, a lecture on the legacy of the church’s founder, Blessed John Henry Newman, and a Thanksgiving dinner for Notre Dame students in Ireland.


The Newman Center was not the only international initiative Notre Dame established in the fall. Beijing became home to the University’s newest Global Gateway, dedicated as part of Provost Burish’s weeklong visit to China in October that included stops in Hong Kong and Chengdu.


Located in a complex of high-rise glass towers known as Genesis Beijing, the Notre Dame gateway’s fellow tenants include General Electric Co., the BBC, an art museum, a public library and a five-star hotel. Like the University’s other primary locations around the world, the Beijing Global Gateway will serve as a hub for students and faculty to hold classes, conduct research and meet with government, corporate and community leaders.



New buildings have transformed Notre Dame’s landscape in recent years, but the changes do not stop at the edge of campus. The surrounding area also continues to develop with new construction along Eddy Street, Angela Boulevard and Notre Dame Avenue.


A plan announced in October would remake campus’ northwestern border as well. Renderings of the proposed 25-acre development on Notre Dame-owned land at the corner of Indiana 933 and Douglas Road near the entrance to the Indiana Toll Road show offices and shops, townhouses and apartments. The site includes the current location of University Village, the married-student housing complex scheduled for demolition in the spring.


The University reached a tentative agreement with South Bend-based Holladay Properties for the $65 to $75 million project, pending safety and landscaping improvements along the stretch of Indiana 933 that separates campus from Holy Cross and Saint Mary’s colleges.



Through an innovative giving structure, Kenn Ricci ’78 and his wife, Pamela, have pledged $100 million to Notre Dame, the largest unrestricted gift in the University’s history.


Upon Ricci’s death, Notre Dame will become the general partner in the family’s limited partnership that owns interests in Ricci’s company, Directional Aviation Capital. With responsibility to liquidate the partnership’s assets, Notre Dame will use the proceeds to supplement Ricci’s lifetime gifts to fulfill the $100-million pledge, with any additional funds going to his heirs.


Both the size of the gift and its unrestricted nature, which allows the University to use it for any purpose, make it a noteworthy philanthropic act. Only two gifts of $100 million or more were made to U.S. universities in 2016. Greg Dugard, Notre Dame’s senior director for gift planning, told CNBC he knows of no larger unrestricted gift in higher education.


Ricci, a member of the Notre Dame Board of Trustees, was a marching band member as a student. The family’s previous benefactions to the University included gifts that built the Ricci Band Rehearsal Hall and the band’s new outdoor practice field.



Notre Dame is well-represented on the NCAA’s Commission on College Basketball, which was established in October after an FBI investigation uncovered evidence of corruption, bribery and wire fraud in the sport related to funds funneled to recruits through agents and apparel companies.


Father Jenkins and Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith ’77 are part of the panel formed to examine issues the case has brought to light. Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ’75M.A. chairs the commission.