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Year in Review

Heather VanHoegarden | Friday, May 13, 2005

Tariq Ramadan’s visa revoked

Tariq Ramadan, a prominent but controversial Muslim scholar scheduled to teach at the University last fall, had his visa revoked by the State Department July 28 and as a result did not come to Notre Dame.

Ramadan was hired in last spring to raise the profile and diversify the curriculum of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, and was initially granted a visa after passing a thorough investigation by both the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department.

Dean Boyd, Homeland Security spokesman, did not comment on the specifics of the decision made about Ramadan, a Swiss citizen, and University spokesman Matt Storin said he did not know why Ramadan was not allowed in the country.

Ramadan had been accused by Jewish groups in France and the United States of spreading anti-Sematic and Islamic militant ideas. Kroc director Scott Appleby said it seemed as though the visa revocation was a last-second political move by Ramadan’s opponents.

University President Father Edward Malloy expressed frustration about the situation. Notre Dame was not given a reason for the denial of the visa, and Malloy said Ramadan was not informed either. However, a senior government official was anonymously quoted in The New York Times, saying that the recommendation to revoke the visa was not based on Ramadan’s beliefs, but on “his actions.” Storin said he did not know what actions the official was referring to.

The scholar reapplied for a work visa to teach at Notre Dame after he was encouraged by the University to do so, but he never did teach at Notre Dame this year, as he resigned from the faculty Dec. 13 with no word from the State Department with regards to his visa.

SafeBus plan does not come to fruition

Despite student government’s efforts, SafeBus, a key component of then-student body president Adam Istvan and vice president Karla Bell’s administrative plans, did not materialize.

The proposal was that a University-sponsored bus, SafeBus, would shuttle students to and from off-campus locations. Initially, the proposal called for the bus to run from 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. on 30-minute intervals and make approximately 10 stops at campus and various bars and apartment complexes.

Istvan and Bell took this proposal to the fall meeting of the Board of Trustees, where it was met with harsh criticism. The Board questioned the timing, feasibility and logistics of the SafeBus plan, saying that Istvan and Bell should not have broached the topic with trustees before pursuing the plan through usual student government and University channels. Trustees also said the proposal sounded too much like other van systems that failed in the past at Notre Dame. They cited concerns of student behavior on the buses as well as the question of who would staff them, saying that the University and Notre Dame Security/Police could not tolerate underage drinking.

After the Board of Trustees meeting, Istvan and Bell took the Board’s suggestion to pursue a contract with a private bus company, contacting Transpo, which currently provides bus service to students. However, this never materialized and SafeBus fell by the wayside mostly due to liability issues.

Ebersol family involved in plane crash

Notre Dame senior Charlie Ebersol survived a November charter plane crash that killed his youngest brother Teddy, 14, and two crewmen and injured his father, NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol.

The crash happened during takeoff in Montrose, Colo., as the Ebersols were returning to South Bend Nov. 28 after a gathering at the Notre Dame football game that Saturday against the University of Southern California, where son Willie Ebersol, 18, is a freshman. The family had stopped in Colorado to drop off Dick Ebersol’s wife, actress Susan Saint James of the 1980s television series “Kate and Allie.”

The private jet, carrying six people, crashed during takeoff from Montrose Regional airport, which is located approximately 185 miles southwest of Denver and serves the Telluride Ski Area.

The plane skidded sideways after impact, ripping off the cockpit and one of the wings, an eyewitness told the Associated Press.

Teddy Ebersol was ejected from the plane and died instantly, Montrose County Coroner Mark Young told the Montrose Daily Press, and Dick Ebersol was pulled out of the wreckage by Charlie Ebersol.

Teddy Ebersol’s body was found the Monday after the crash underneath the wreckage following an extensive search of the wooded crash site, Young said.

Charlie Ebersol, 21, played a vocal role in Notre Dame student government, twice running for student body president and losing by narrow margins in 2003 and 2004. During the 2003-04 term, he served as manager of the Student Union Board and was a member of the Council of Representatives.

Dick Ebersol, 57, became president of NBC Sports in 1989, and most recently worked with Notre Dame football to nationally televise home games on NBC. In December 2003, he, athletic director Kevin White and Malloy worked to a sign a contract extension through 2010.

Notre Dame makes controversial football coaching change

For the first time ever, Notre Dame fired its football coach before his original contract expired, ousting Tyrone Willingham after three seasons at the helm of the Irish Nov. 30.

Willingham, the first black head coach in any sport at Notre Dame, was fired by Notre Dame’s senior leadership after a 21-15 career record.

The firing of Willingham sparked much debate on campus, including a protest by approximately 30-40 ethnic minority students on the steps of the Main Building. They carried posters reading “$ cost ND its integrity,” “Never before, never again” and “We want Ty back.”

Chandra Johnson, assistant to Malloy, shaved her head to protest the firing, saying she would remain bald until the Irish win a national championship. She said the firing process was flawed and that as a result, diversity at the University will suffer. T-shirts critical of Notre Dame and in support of Willingham were also distributed.

Malloy said he was embarrassed to be the president of Notre Dame after Willingham was fired, saying that he did not make the decision to terminate the coach. Malloy and University President-elect Father John Jenkins had a policy in place that decisions that affected Notre Dame post-July 1 (Jenkins’ takeover date) would fall to Jenkins.

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis was hired Dec. 12 to replace Willingham after a widely publicized coaching search. Weis, a 1978 graduate of the University, balanced both jobs until after the Super Bowl, which the Patriots won.

After Weis was hired, Malloy said the new coach had his full support.

Hatch to take over at Wake Forest

University Provost Nathan Hatch, the second-ranking officer in the Notre Dame administration, said in January he will leave the University July 1 to become the president of Wake Forest University.

Hatch, who joined the Notre Dame faculty in 1975, has overseen Notre Dame’s academic affairs as provost since 1996. He replaces Thomas Hearn, Jr., who announced his retirement from Wake Forest last April after serving as president since 1983.

Hatch cited the fact that Wake Forest has a similar environment to Notre Dame as one of the factors that attracted him there. The University, located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, has an enrollment of 6,500 students, smaller than Notre Dame, but has religious roots, as it was founded as a Baptist institution but became independent in the 1980s.

Hatch served as the associate dean of the College of Arts and Letters from 1983-88 and the acting dean in 1988-89. He was also elected as the University’s vice president for graduate studies and research in 1989 before he became provost.

Notre Dame has not named a new provost, and Jenkins, head of the search committee, said it is unlikely Hatch’s replacement will be identified before July 1. Jenkins also said that if necessary, the search could extend until next fall with an interim or acting provost filling the role temporarily.

Trustee charged with battery, resigns post

Former Notre Dame football All-American and trustee Dave Duerson was charged with assaulting his wife Feb. 3 at the Morris Inn and as a result resigned his post on the Board of Trustees.

Duerson, a University trustee since 2001, voluntarily resigned his post after the incident and is no longer the president of the Monogram Club, where his term was set to expire in June.

He was charged with two counts of battery and two counts of domestic battery, each a class A misdemeanor.

According to the prosecutor’s supplemental affidavit on the case, Duerson allegedly struck his wife, Alicia Duerson, and pushed her out of their hotel room early that morning. She was treated at a local hospital and released.

The Duersons were on campus for the winter Board of Trustees meeting, and Dave Duerson, a member of the Board’s Student Affairs Committee and Audit Committee, did not attend either of the trustees’ scheduled sessions.

Dave Duerson deferred his initial court date for the misdemeanor assault charges until April 28.

Dave Duerson, a 1983 Notre Dame graduate, is the founder, president and CEO of Duerson Foods, LLC, a high-volume meat processor for major restaurants and retail chains. He got into business after winning two Super Bowls in the NFL with the Chicago Bears (1985) and New York Giants (1990) and earning NFL Man of the Year honors in 1987.

Dave Duerson also received the prestigious Sorin Award from the Notre Dame Alumni Association in 2001.

He was well-known on campus for his pointed remarks about Notre Dame football, criticizing the administration for the firing of Willingham. Before that, he was part of the Monogram Club’s letter to the University that criticized the way the football program was managed.

Transition occurs at the top of the Church

Pope John Paul II passed away in April after 26 years at the helm of the Catholic Church, and Notre Dame honored his papacy with memorial services across campus. The pope, who was well-known for his World Youth Days, was honored in rosary prayers, Masses and vespers at Notre Dame.

Students from Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s who were studying abroad flocked to St. Peter’s Square to witness John Paul II’s last days.

John Paul II was remembered at Notre Dame for his worldliness and his many travels. Notre Dame professors were featured in major publications as well as on major networks to talk about John Paul II and to ponder his successor as the papal conclave met.

Father Virgilio Eilzondo, a visiting professor in Notre Dame’s Latino studies department, recounted his visit with the pope in 1987 in San Antonio, Texas.

Notre Dame had University representatives at the funeral in Rome – the Superior General of the Congregazione Di Santa Croce, Very Reverend Hugh Cleary, his two assistants and Father Carl Ebey, the procurator general of the Congregation.

Eventually, the traditional white smoke arose, and German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was chosen as the 265th pope. Taking the name of Benedict XVI, the new pope was seen by Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s professors as a very conservative choice.

Ratzinger was described as a Vatican insider by some professors, and others saw him as an intellectual person and a thoughtful, spiritual individual.

Dome regilding sparks debate

Notre Dame announced the Friday before spring break that the Golden Dome was going to be regilded for the 10h time in school history. The project, with an initial cost of $300,000, was necessary due to the deteriorating conditions of the Dome, according to University officials.

The fact that the process would not be completed until next fall prompted a severe backlash from the senior class, as many students were upset that the Dome would be covered in scaffolding for their May graduation.

Executive Vice President John Affleck-Graves initially said there was no other way to do the repairs, saying that the landmark suffered structural damages and needed immediate attention. Senior class president Darrell Scott met with Affleck-Graves in late March with a proposal to take down the scaffolding one week before graduation day, allowing the Dome to be visible for commencement. Then, the day after, the scaffolding would be rebuilt. Scott estimated this would add two weeks to the process.

However, Affleck-Graves said the contractors estimated it would push the regilding back past the deadline of Oct. 1.

Then on April 7, it was announced that the scaffolding would be partially removed in time for graduation so that the Dome itself could be visible in its entirety. As a result, workers will be working longer hours so that an Oct. 1 completion date is ensured.

That compromise was what Scott and student body president Adam Istvan initially requested, but due to a miscommunication, Affleck-Graves thought they wanted the scaffolding removed from the drum of the Dome as well.

He continued to work behind the scenes and eventually came up with this compromise, which Scott, Istvan and the senior class appreciated and welcomed.

After the agreement was reached, NDSP began an all-night guard at the base of the Main Building after it was reported that students were climbing the scaffolding. Officers cited safety concerns as their main reason for doing so.

New Student Center opens at Saint Mary’s

After months of anticipation, the new Student Center opened at Saint Mary’s the Sunday after spring break.

The three-story building houses more than a dozen offices, including the Shaheen Bookstore, First Source Bank, campus ministry and student government. It is also home to meeting rooms and conference rooms for student groups such as student government, the Blue Mantle and a work area for The Observer. There is also a new women’s resource center to supplement the current LeMans Hall space.

Construction began in early 2004 on the Student Center, and work on the interior was almost finished in February. Students now enter the dining hall through the main entrance of the Student Center.

The new bookstore in the Student Center is twice the size of the old one, and as a result, students should expect to see double the merchandise.

The Student Center is also home to a cyber café, where students have wireless Internet access. The café has grab-and-go style meals as well as an outdoor patio facing LeMans.

In addition to these offices, the Student Center is home to the President’s Dining Room, which has space for dining with about 60 visiting dignitaries and guests, a preparation area for catering and a terrace.

Monk honored in final year as president

In his last year at the helm of Notre Dame, Malloy was remembered fondly by students, faculty and administrators.

At the end of March, Malloy was honored for his commitment to diversity with a reception in the Hesburgh Library. Malloy, who took office in 1987, was honored for his efforts to increase diversity at Notre Dame, as the presence of minority students on campus increased from 7.7 percent of the student body in 1986 to 16.6 percent in 2004, according to statistics provided by the Office of Institutional Research.

Malloy was also honored at a farewell Mass April 17, when all dorm Masses were cancelled so that students could attend the campus-wide Mass. More than 3,000 people gathered in the Joyce Center to honor Malloy.

During the Mass, Malloy spoke of the historical significance of the presidential transition between him and Jenkins, as it is only Notre Dame’s second in the last 53 years.

Student body president Dave Baron paid tribute to Malloy on behalf of the students, presenting three images of Malloy. The first was a gatekeeper, saying Malloy made the campus a welcoming place. The second was a cardboard cutout of Malloy playing basketball for Notre Dame, carried by senior class president Darrell Scott. The final was Malloy’s nickname, “Monk,”
which Baron used as a symbol of his spirituality.

Jenkins takes over as University president on July 1.