Seen & heard on campus

Author: John Nagy ’00M.A.

Make way for 2013: The new crop of 2,065 first-year students is a tad larger than normal thanks to the recession, according to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. The roughly 3 percent hike in class size brings in extra tuition revenue at no cost to first-years’ average SAT scores, which set another high at 1410. Just over half the incoming class will receive some form of need-based help from the University, up from 44 percent of freshmen last year. One in nine new Domers served as a high school class or student body president; one in eight was a valedictorian or salutatorian; one in seven edited a student publication; half participated in the arts, over three-quarters lettered in a varsity sport and a full 85 percent reported involvement in community service. So, they’ll fit right in. . . . The students’ arrival is a welcome boost to the Michiana economy. A recent University report estimated that the typical student annually drops about $3,600 locally, but finance Professor Richard Sheehan figures that number could run as high as $6,000, factoring for things like off-campus rents and grad student spending — not to mention MBA students who cultivated pricier tastes before heading back to school. Sheehan says the University’s overall estimate for student-related expenditures — $40 million annually — may be similarly conservative, taking insufficient account of student dollars that funnel through local businesses like Rocco’s and The Linebacker and create jobs for area residents, who turn around and spend at other local businesses. All things considered, he says, $80 million to $100 million per year might not be unrealistic. . . . Four recent Irish student-athletes competed in June at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, the annual showcase for the sports’ best athletes, hosted by the University of Oregon. Molly Huddle ’06 finished fifth in the women’s 10,000-meter race. Patrick Smyth ’09, billed as one of the nation’s top long-distance runners, placed seventh in the men’s 10,000, Luke Watson ’02, ’03MSA took 14th place in the men’s steeplechase and Mary Saxer ’09 competed in the pole vault. . . . Notre Dame doesn’t pay property taxes, but after conversations with community leaders the University elected to distribute a total of $5.5 million in structured, voluntary contributions to South Bend, Saint Joseph County, Mishawaka and Roseland over the next decade. A South Bend spokesperson said the money would be used to reimburse police costs on football weekends, while any remainder would help the city maintain budgeted levels of police and fire personnel and parks programs threatened by revenue shortfalls the city incurred when Indiana implemented local property tax reforms. Mayor Stephen Luecke praised the decision as “an extraordinary show of partnership to the community.” . . Ryan Hall opened its doors for the first time this August to 248 female undergraduate students. The University’s newest dorm stands between Welsh Family Hall and the bookstore and is visible from Notre Dame Avenue. . . . Ticket scanners, $40 drive-up parking on the Notre Dame Golf Course, Friday photo-ops on the north end of Notre Dame Stadium and green-jacketed guest service reps are all part of the University’s effort to improve safety, security, communication and hospitality on home football weekends. A “Rally on the Green” will feature food and drink vendors, bands, speakers and kids’ activities on the Irish Green south of the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center on Friday afternoons from 3 to 6:30 p.m. and again on Saturdays from 10 a.m. until a half-hour before kickoff. A full summary of gameday enhancements is available on the web at . . . That three-story brick-and-glass edifice southeast of the stadium on Edison Avenue is officially called Innovation Park. President and CEO David Brenner ’73 thinks of it as an “innovation ecosystem” for technology-driven businesses-to-be arising from research at Notre Dame, the Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend and other nearby idea mills. The building is the first of several projected to occupy the University-owned research park and could house more than 100 specialized workers, a special boon considering the findings of a 2007 survey of research parks in the United States and Canada that indicates such jobs can create another 2.5 jobs in the area. . . . A short stroll to the west, the first tenants of the Eddy Street Commons development moved into their apartments August 15. At press time, the new neighborhood’s commercial lineup — set to begin opening in September — included national chain restaurants Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Doc Magrogan’s Oyster House, Hot Box Pizza and Kildare’s Pub, as well as a Follett bookstore, Outpost Sports, Anytime Fitness and a branch of Indiana-based Old National Bank. . . . Tariq Ramadan, the Swiss Muslim scholar prevented from taking a tenured job at Notre Dame when U.S. officials revoked his visa in 2004, should have had a documented chance to prove his $1,336 in contributions to Muslim charities did not constitute support for U.S.-designated terrorist organizations in Palestine, according to a 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in July. Ramadan was recently fired from academic and civic positions in the Netherlands under a political cloud formed by his work on a television program that airs on an English-language Iranian network. . . . Finally, a poll update: PayScale, a major online database of employee salary information, ranks Notre Dame eighth in median salaries among graduates at least 10 years out of school. The Chronicle of Higher Education identified ND as one of 10 “Great Colleges to Work For” among universities with more than 10,000 students. And the 2009 Newsweek/Kaplan college guide styles the University as the perfect place for “Funsters Who Need a Push in the Classroom,” that is, “students who . . . are serious about their studies but [may] embrace sporting events and parties more fervently than academics.” Float that at your next tailgater.