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Six residence hall rectors opt to leave University posts

Kaitlynn Riely | Friday, May 19, 2006

As the 2005-06 school year comes to a close, six rectors will leave behind their responsibilities for their respective residence halls to take up new positions at the University, to pursue further education or explore different job opportunities.

Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Sister Jean Lenz said this is not an unusually large number considering the amount of rectors employed at Notre Dame.

“When you have 27 residence halls, there’s a turnover,” Lenz said. “Almost every year there are a few people that leave.”

Last year seven rectors opted to leave. This year, Sister Susan Dunn of Lyons, Sister Anne Napoli of Badin, Sister Katie Winikates of Lewis, Father Peter Jarret of Keough, Sister Mary Ann Mueninghoff of Pasquerilla East and Father Tom Eckert of St. Edward’s will all be leaving.

The University announced in February that Dunn would replace Sister Mary Louise Gude as Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs. Dunn will officially begin her new position July 1 and will work under Vice President for Student Affairs Father Mark Poorman supervising the University’s health, counseling and career services.

Dunn said her five years as a rector will be helpful in aiding her transition into her new position. She will be dealing with many of the same groups she worked with as a rector, such as the University Counseling Center.

Dunn said she will miss the challenges and the joys that accompany the job of rector.

“I think being a rector at Notre Dame is just a wonderfully unique experience because of having the same hall system,” Dunn said “You really do get to know people, I think, at a deep level, especially after four years, and they also get to know you at that level too.”

Jarret, after being a rector for five years at Keough, will replace Father Bill Seetch as superior of the Holy Cross community at Notre Dame. He will oversee the approximately 80 members of the Order who live and work at the University, as well as the religious services carried out at Corby Hall. As part of this position, Jarret will become a Trustee and Fellow of the University to represent the Order of the Holy Cross.

“I’ll miss most the one-on-one contact with the guys in the hall, people stopping by at all hours and just the spirit of the hall, which was very positive,” Jarret said.

Winikates wants to pursue counseling so she will be leaving Notre Dame to pursue a doctorate in psychology. She is still waiting to hear from the Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago. In the meantime, she will return to Dallas, Texas to spend time with her family. Winikates said she enjoyed the two years she spent among the women of Lewis Hall.

“I learned a lot from them and I also think the world of them and I know they will do great things with their lives,” Winikates said.

She said people across campus helped her acclimate to Notre Dame and provided her with various resources while she was a rector at the University.

“The learning curve is huge for someone who comes in not having any Notre Dame experience,” Winikates said. “It’s a unique place and the challenge was definitely learning how things worked … but there’s a great support system.”

Winikates said she is considering returning to the University to apply for a counseling position after she receives her doctorate.

Napoli lived in Badin Hall for four years as a rector. She said the small size of the dorm fostered a close community with a strong identity.

“Some of the best experiences I have had are the masses, … praying with the girls, cheering for them at the Regatta or at our championship game at the stadium a couple of years ago,” Napoli said.

She said she and some other rectors were talking about the impending shock of the transition from living in crowded residence hall to living alone.

“When we’re in our apartments, it will be nice to have some more privacy, but when you’re alone on a Tuesday night you can’t just wander down the hall to find someone to talk to,” Napoli said.

Napoli remains undecided about her plans after finishing up her duties as rector. She has applied to some jobs on campus, but has also been accepted into a program at Indiana University, Bloomington to become a certified high school art teacher.

Mueninghoff has been the Pasquerilla East rector for 11 years and is leaving to take an administrative position at Dominican University in River Forest, Ill. as the promoter of mission and ministry for the University.

Mueninghoff said her service to Pasquerilla East for over a decade has been an honor and a privilege, but also an exhausting experience.

“It’s all about walking with 18-22 year olds in the big picture – the big picture being ‘what’s the meaning of life and what’s the contribution I’m going to make in this world to make it a better place?'” Mueninghoff said.

After three years as the rector of St. Edward’s Hall, Eckert will begin to study full-time at Notre Dame to obtain a Master’s degree focusing on Latin American literature. He will also continue to serve as the Associate Director for the Office of Vocations within the Order of Holy Cross. Eckert said he will miss the camaraderie he was able to form with the residents of the dorm.

“My hope is that through it all, the gentlemen I’ve built community with in these three years will remember that their long term growth and development was always my number one priority, and that we were able to have a great deal of fun along the way,” Eckert said.

Approximately 65 people submitted applications to be rectors next year, Lenz said. The applicant pool was narrowed through phone interviews and then through day-long campus interviews. By May 2, Lenz and the senior staff had chosen the rectors’ replacements.

“Notre Dame is very fortunate because it attracts people that have had experience in other places,” Lenz said.

The senior staff considers the personality and experience of the applicant and the character of the dorm in deciding which residence hall to place them in. Lenz said she is pleased with the new rectors they have selected for next year.

“I feel like each one of them brings really good experience,” Lenz said. “They are so happy to be coming – thrilled to be coming to work at Notre Dame.”