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The year in review

Meghanne Downes | Thursday, August 21, 2003

Sea of GreenThe winning enthusiasm and spirit of the Sea of Green flooded Notre Dame last fall. Students, alumni and fans followed the Notre Dame football team as they returned glory to Notre Dame Stadium under the guidance of new coach Tyrone Willingham. At the beginning of the season, several sports analysts dismissed the team and Notre Dame entered many games as the underdog. But Willingham and his players made the Irish a force to be reckoned with and climbed the polls by winning their first eight games before falling to Catholic rival Boston College.Though the season was a roller coaster of emotions for many fans with careless fumbles, unexpected victories, losses to Boston College and USC, fluctuations in poll standings and the possibility of a BCS berth, the legendary Notre Dame spirit did not disappear on football weekends. Fans donned this year’s green Return to Glory shirt and waved their green signs. Football players wore green jerseys against Boston College as Willingham requested that the sea of green take the Stadium by storm. Enthusiasm for the season built up, as students and fans took the Sea of Green on the road and followed the team to games against Michigan State and Florida State. As December approached, fans waited anxiously while praying that winter break would include a trip to Tempe, Ariz.; Miami, Pasadena, Calif. or New Orleans. However, hopes of a BCS berth were dashed with late season losses. With the team headed to the Gator Bowl against North Carolina State, the spirit seemed to have run out, but loyal fans supported their team and cheered in Jacksonville, Fla. as the Irish fell to the Wolfpack 28-6.

PW assistant rector dismissedThe abrupt departure of Pasquerilla West assistant rector Cynthia Phillips left many lingering questions for Pasquerilla West residents and other assistant rectors who wondered about their own job security.Sister Sue Bruno, Pasquerilla West rector, asked Phillips to leave in October. Though Bruno declined to comment, Phillips said she was removed after Bruno requested the two share a “closer relationship.” Phillips maintained she supported Bruno’s leadership and never had a conflict with her.The Office of Residence Life formally removed Phillips as AR in November, following a series of meetings, but she retained her employee benefits for the remainder of the academic year.Phillips, a second-year law student, was honored with the Distinguished Notre Dame Woman Award in April for her contributions to the Notre Dame and South Bend community. ResLife changed the AR contracts for next year after reviewing the events that occurred in the past academic year, said Bill Kirk, vice president for Student Affairs. The new contracts, which are renewed by semester and provide a more detailed definition of the AR’s role, state that contracts may be terminated with or without cause and disputes between an AR and the University will be settled via arbitration. ARs who are terminated without cause will receive benefits for the remainder of the semester.

Saint Mary’s SecurityAmidst security department changes and improvements, Saint Mary’s suspended security officer Belinda Rathert because her college transcripts were reportedly not on file. The College suspended and banned Rathert from campus while it investigated whether she misrepresented herself to the College. Rathert questioned the professionalism of the manner in which the situation was handled and maintained that she contacted College officials in order to turn over her transcripts. At the time, College officials stated that Rathert had not turned over her transcripts. In November, the suspended officer said she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and intended to sue the College for sexual harassment and discrimination, unequal wages and a hostile work environment.

Police flood The Boat ClubOn a chilly January morning, The Boat Club, students’ underage drinking haven, faced a similar fate as that of Finnigan’s Irish Pub in 2000, as Excise Police and South Bend Police busted the bar.Over 200 Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students waited in line for hours as police, assisted by Notre Dame Security Police officers carrying student directories, verified the identification of patrons and issued citations.Though Saint Mary’s students did not receive punishment from the College, Notre Dame students were fined monetarily and ordered to complete service hours in addition to the fines and service hours they had to complete for Saint Joseph County.While many cited students believed they had put The Boat Club bust behind them, Millennium Entertainment Inc., the club’s owner, sued each cited student in small claims courts for damages of $3,000. The suits alleged that the defendants misrepresented themselves to the nightclub in order to gain entrance.In an unrelated bar bust, Excise Police raided The Library Irish Pub in April and issued 51 citations, many to Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students. The Library was raided two years ago when it was called Finnegan’s and has changed ownership since the previous bust. It is unclear whether the owners of The Library will also file suits against cited individuals as Millennium Entertainment did this April.

Freshman diesFreshman Chad Sharon was found dead Feb. 12 under the Angela Bridge after being reported missing Dec. 12 by Fisher Hall staff because he did not return to his residence hall that weekend. Friends said they last saw Sharon around 2 a.m. at a party on Corby Street. Sharon did not show up for any of his finals, and state and local police began an extensive search for the freshman. During their search for Sharon, police discovered a Madison Center employee who may have talked to Sharon outside the hospital around 4 a.m. the morning after his disappearance. The employee said that an individual closely matching Sharon’s description asked for directions to the nearest convenience store. The hospital worker directed the student to a local 7-Eleven. The investigation expanded to include searches of the area and the nearby Saint Joseph River, using dogs and helicopters, but turned up few additional leads. University officials offered a $25,000 reward, which was later increased to $50,000 with the help of local businesses, to encourage anyone with information about Sharon to come forward. Sharon’s parents visited campus in January to meet with investigators and students who might have been unwilling to speak with police. The search ended when local construction workers found a body floating under the Angela Bridge that was later identified as Sharon’s. Though the river had been searched, police speculated that the body had been dislodged from elsewhere in the river by high winds the day before. An autopsy and blood tests later revealed that Sharon’s blood alcohol content was 0.224, although it could have been lower at the time of death, and that foul play was likely not involved. For Sharon’s family and friends, these unfortunate developments finally brought some closure to months of uncertainty, and hundreds of members of the Notre Dame community joined the Sharon family for a memorial Mass in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart February 25.

Saint Mary’s president retiresSaint Mary’s President Marilou Eldred officially announced her retirement March 5.Eldred became the 10th president and first laywoman president of the College upon her inauguration in 1997.Since then, she helped to improve Saint Mary’s itself, along with its relationship to the local community.With Eldred’s supervision and initiative came the development of the College’s Strategic Plan to improve the curriculum, technology and diversity of campus. Eldred also headed the development of the Master Plan, a renovation and construction effort to update facilities and meet the growing needs of the college community at large.Eldred secured a $12 million grant loan from Lilly Endowment, Inc., which provided crucial funding for the Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership that opened in 2001. The Center is believed to be the only of its kind in colleges and universities across the country.Efforts such as these helped Saint Mary’s earn the reputation as the nation’s premier Catholic women’s college. The College has received a number-one ranking for Midwest Liberal Arts Colleges by “U.S. News and World Report” for five of Eldred’s six years at the helm of the College.”My experience at Saint Mary’s has been fantastic,” Eldred said. “It has been a privilege to lead this College to the next level; to work with our faculty and staff to provide the highest quality education possible for the talented students who come to [Saint Mary’s].”Eldred agreed to hold her position at the College until the Board of Trustees names her successor, which is expected to occur at some point in the 2003-04 academic year.

Saint Mary’s Reading DayAfter a 10-year student government-led struggle, Saint Mary’s Academic Affairs Committee finally approved the proposal to add reading days to the College’s finals schedule.The approval will now allow Saint Mary’s students the opportunity to work on projects, meet with professors and prepare for exams the Friday before finals week.

War in IraqWhile New York, Chicago and London erupted in anti-war and peace protests, Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students voiced their opinions, as well.Several students traveled to New York and Chicago to participate in protests while others organized forums and demonstrations on campus. Hundreds of students and faculty members, including Father Theodore Hesburgh, president emeritus of Notre Dame, signed an anti-war petition started at Notre Dame.Pro-war, anti-war, pro-troops and pro-peace voices could be heard on both campuses. Though it is unclear whether anyone from the Notre Dame or Saint Mary’s communities died in Operation Iraqi Freedom, several Notre Dame professors were sent to fight. A 2000 Notre Dame graduate, Dustin Ferrell, was severely injured in a humvee accident in Iraq and is recovering in the United States. He was awarded a Purple Heart for his efforts.

Scully resignsFollowing a reported leadership crisis in the University, Father Timothy Scully resigned as executive vice president at the May Board of Trustees meeting. A committee formed to investigate Scully’s behavior was scheduled to deliver a report at the meeting.His resignation followed a January incident where he accosted a reporter and cameraman from WNDU-TV in the Fisher Hall parking lot before a Mass for then-missing freshman Chad Sharon. WNDU-TV is owned by the University and Scully was director of operations for the station. The cameraman said Scully smelled of alcohol when he approached them and told them to move their vehicles. Reporter Bonnie Druker filed a report with NDSP and later withdrew her complaint after Scully apologized.Scully will remain as a political science professor at Notre Dame.

Teresa Fralish and Anneliese Woolford contributed to this article.