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University students in study programs abroad attend academic convocation

Kate Antonacci | Thursday, February 2, 2006

ROME – Though some guests traveled halfway around the world to attend Notre Dame’s academic convocation and conference Wednesday, students at either of the University’s two international study programs in Rome simply had to walk down the cobblestone streets of Italy’s historical capital to see some familiar Notre Dame faces – including University President Father John Jenkins.

“I think an event like this is a time for the whole Notre Dame community … to celebrate the link that Notre Dame has to Rome and to see how Catholic higher education fits in,” said Dennis Jacobs, vice president and associate provost. “We wanted the students to learn from the remarks.”

The event – held at Saint John’s Lateran Pontifical University – was “open to both Rome programs,” Jacobs said, referring to the program at John Cabot University and Notre Dame’s architecture program in Rome.

Architecture students were encouraged to attend the event in classes throughout the week, said junior architecture major Claire Colclough.

“[Our professors] came with us and our director is here as well,” junior architecture major Rachael Maricich said.

Jenkins; Bishop Rino Fisichella, auxiliary bishop of Rome and rector of Saint John Lateran University; and Father Daniel Jenky, bishop of Peoria, Ill. and a Notre Dame trustee, all spoke at the convocation.

“I thought [Jenkins’ speech] was interesting, but I thought it was a little general, a little vague,” Colclough said.

Maricich said because she was abroad during the fall semester as well, she hadn’t yet heard Jenkins speak until the convocation.

“It was nice to hear him here in Rome. I especially liked Father Jenkins incorporating Thomas Aquinas into his talk … just clear and simple,” she said. “I’d also read his [speech] last week that corresponded with some of the topics today.”

Colclough said she enjoyed Jenky’s synthesis of the history of the congregation of the Holy Cross throughout the years.

Though fewer than a dozen students attended the event, Jacobs said he knew there were class conflicts that prohibited more students from coming.

“I think the trustees were pleasantly surprised to see Notre Dame students here,” Jacobs said.

Some architecture students decided to attend the event because the Board of Trustees has a scheduled visit to their studio in downtown Rome today.

“I think part of the reason we got an open invitation was that the Board of Trustees are coming for an open exposition of the architecture studio,” Maricich said. “A lot of it is [for trustees to] see how it’s run and [learn] why the Rome program is important for architecture students.”

Michael Lykoudis, dean and professor in the architecture school, already gave a presentation to visitors about the Notre Dame architecture program, speaking in particular about the importance of students spending the third of their five academic years studying in Rome, Jacobs said.

“I will be there for the open house,” he added.

Several students attending John Cabot University through Notre Dame also attended the event.

“I went to see [Fisichella] at Notre Dame talking about the situation with Catholic education. I wanted to follow up on that,” junior Danice Brown said.

Such an event in Rome sponsored by Notre Dame was a welcome change, students said.

“The closest thing to this that we attended was when [L. Frances Rooney III, U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See] invited us to his house for dinner,” said Colclough, adding that the invitation was informal and not an academic event with guests from the United States, like the convocation Wednesday.