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Monk honored for diversity work

Maddie Hanna | Friday, April 1, 2005

Those who attended Thursday night’s reception in the Hesburgh Library honoring outgoing University President Father Edward Malloy’s commitment to increasing diversity at Notre Dame got to enjoy more than the fourteenth-floor Hesburgh Penthouse’s spectacular view of the sun setting over campus.

Personal and sometimes humorous testaments to Malloy’s character made by students, alumni, faculty and trustees were the highlights of the event, which offered attendees the chance to mingle and chat one-on-one with an animated Malloy while noshing on hors d’oeuvres.

“We’ve gathered to honor a great man and a personal role model of mine,” Board of Trustees member Phyllis Stone said. “It’s to celebrate both his leadership and his example in Notre Dame’s cultural and ethnic diversity.”

Stone said Notre Dame saw the most important advances in the University’s history during Malloy’s 18-year presidency.

“When he took office in 1987, Monk articulated that promoting diversity and international character was one of his top goals,” she said.

Stone said that just one year after taking office, Malloy oversaw a comprehensive University-wide plan that increased the number of both minority faculty and students.

From 1986 to 2004, minority students on campus increased from 7.7 percent to 16.6 percent, according to statistics provided by the Office of Institutional Research. If international students are added to the statistic, the number increased from 8.1 percent to 25.1 percent.

Lonnie Limon, accounting director at the Bravo Group and a ’96 alum, shared how his cousin who lived in Sorin introduced him to Malloy during a pick-up basketball game.

“For a Hispanic boy from Texas to meet Monk Malloy wearing shorts, goggles and a tank top,” Limon said, “it showed me that he was a person you could touch, that was real.”

He thanked Malloy for an increase in faculty diversity, the instillation of the Latino Studies program and his freshman year advisor.

“It was good to see a person of color in the first year program that I could relate to,” Limon said. “I think there’s a long way to go, but I think you have made such great strides for us.”

In addition to his role as University president, Malloy also played the role of teacher in his popular freshmen seminars, Stone said. His classes became an example of how to teach and discuss diversity.

Academic advisor in the First Year of Studies Celia Lucero discussed Malloy’s impact on freshmen in his classes, which she said were designed to “enrich their humanity and empower their minds.”

Before presenting Malloy with a gift book, Lucero introduced two former students, Summer Shea and Marques Bolden, who shared their experiences from the spring 2003 seminar.

Shea, who was adopted from South Korea at a young age and raised by an Irish family in a Caucasian community, said she struggled with her identity until taking Malloy’s class.

“The University of Notre Dame has provided me with a way to celebrate my Irish upbringing with my Korean ethnicity,” she said. “Thank you, Father Malloy, for introducing me to myself.”

Bolden said being introduced to people with experiences different than his had a great impact on him.

“Through our dialogue, we came to realize that our differences were not hindrances, but advantages,” he said.

Chandra Johnson, Assistant Director of Cross-Cultural Ministry and Malloy’s assistant for the past seven years, said, “It’s been quite a ride.”

After praising Malloy’s integrity and spirituality, Johnson told him, “You know that I love you.”

Malloy was also presented with two pieces of artwork. The first, a mirror created by double domer Lem Joyner, was presented by Gina Shropshire of the Black Alumni of Notre Dame. Senior Amy Peterson presented the second work, her painting of the Virgin Mary entitled “Notre Dame, our Universal Mother.”

Peterson said the painting depicts Mary outfitted in multicultural attire and gives her “indistinct yet identifiable skin tones,” and even represents Malloy with the inclusion of dogwood flowers – a reference to the dogwood tree planted in his honor in front of the Main Building.

After the speakers finished with their anecdotes and presentations, Malloy took the podium and reflected on his childhood and career at Notre Dame.

“One side of me, the Catholic side which prizes ritual especially in times of transition, actually looks forward to these moments,” Malloy said. “The other side of me hates these things, because my own personal style has not been to seek personal attention.”

Malloy also referred to his athletic background during his speech.

“The best functioning teams are when people with a variety of talents all pull in the same direction,” he said. “That’s really what Notre Dame is to me.”

Malloy said his upbringing and early awareness of diversity molded him and had a great effect on his future actions.

His father, a claims advisor in Washington D.C., would take Malloy with him in the city – which at the time was predominantly African-American – at night.

“I would sit there in the car and try to take in the world around me,” Malloy said. “I just remember how intrigued I was by the worlds out there,” he said.

Malloy also cited his experiences traveling to places such as Mexico, Peru, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Africa as eye-opening and said they expanded his horizons.

“To bypass barriers, I know no better way than to immerse ourselves in culture, and to make friends,” he said.

Malloy offered advice that he said was inspired by John the Baptist.

“Prepare the way for the Lord. Try to do the best you can while you have time,” Malloy said. “Be confident, under [University president elect] John Jenkins’ leadership, that the momentum that’s been established will be sustained.”

Malloy finished with a gymnastics analogy to describe his future after July 1, when Jenkins will assume the presidency.

“I’m going from the parallel bars to the floor, because it’s not as far of a distance to fall,” he said.