Four years in review
Observer Staff Report | Friday, May 13, 2016
Fr. Theodore Hesburgh dies at 97
On Feb. 26, 2015, Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, 15th president of Notre Dame and one of the most influential figures in higher education, died at the age of 97. Friends, family and the Notre Dame community came together to celebrate his life at his funeral held at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on March 4, 2015.
Former President of the United States Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, M.A. class of 1975, topped a long list of dignitaries who offered reflections at the memorial service for Hesburgh on March 4 in Purcell Pavilion.
Other speakers included Carter’s wife, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter; former president of Princeton University William Bowen; Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, class of 1977 and Law School class of 1981; Dillon Hall rector Fr. Paul Doyle; former football head coach Lou Holtz; archbishop emeritus of Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick; Indiana Gov. Mike Pence; Board of Trustees member Martin W. Rogers, class of 1988; former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson and former Pennsylvania Sen. Harris Wofford.
University President Fr. John Jenkins described Fr. Hesburgh as a moral force in a statement sent to the student body.
“While serving four Popes and accepting 16 presidential appointments, Father Ted was a moral force in virtually all major social issues of his day, including civil rights, peaceful uses of atomic energy, campus unrest, treatment of Vietnam draft evaders, third-world development and immigration reform.
“Next to Notre Dame’s founder, Father Edward Sorin, C.S.C., no one has had a greater impact on the University than Father Ted. With his appointments to the faculty, his creation of great centers and institutes for scholarship and research, his commitment to our Catholic character, and, most of all, his leadership, charisma and vision, he turned what was a school well-known for football into one of the nation’s great institutions for higher learning.”
Twelve ND, SMC students lost in four years
2012 witnessed the passing of two students. On Oct. 18, Saint Mary’s sophomore Ziqi Zhang died from injuries sustained in a collision between her bike and an SUV outside of the main entrance to Saint Mary’s on State Road 933. Zhang was a dual-degree student at Saint Mary’s taking engineering classes at Notre Dame.
Michael Thigpen, a first year master’s student and professional musician, died Nov. 13 at his off-campus residence. He is remembered by his loved ones for his caring nature and strong desire to help people.
Connor Sorensen died Dec. 20, 2013 after a lifelong battle with lung disease, along with other health-related issues. Sorensen was able to graduate early, despite his deteriorating health. His friends described him as relentless in his motivation to find cures for diseases, due to his personal experiences.
Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s lost two students in 2014. Third-year Ph.D. student Akash Sharma died Jan. 1. Sharma was studying chemical and biomolecular engineering and worked as a teaching assistant. He was from India.
Saint Mary’s first-year Madelyn Stephenson died when her car was hit on the driver’s side by a semi-tractor Jan. 3. She had a passion for learning Arabic and her loved ones described her as a shy, smart girl.
Five Notre Dame students were lost in 2015. Sophomore Daniel Kim was found dead Feb. 6 in his off-campus residence. A former fencer, Kim was a business student from New Jersey.
Senior finance major Lisa Yang died March 3; her death was ruled a suicide by the St. Joseph County Coroner’s Office. She was a resident of McGlinn Hall and friends said she was naturally good at everything she tried.
Senior Billy Meckling died in the early hours of May 16 after falling from the roof of the Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center; he was set to graduate the following day. Meckling was a four-year member of the Irish varsity fencing team, winning two monograms.
Rebecca Townsend, a member of the incoming class of 2019, died July 2 after she and a friend were struck by a car during a Fourth of July celebration. She graduated with honors from Immaculate High School in Danbury, Connecticut.
Junior Jake Scanlan, a mechanical engineering major from North Potomac, Maryland was found unresponsive in his bed in Siegfried Hall on Nov. 11; he was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. His friends said he treated everyone like an old friend and loved to make people smile.
In 2016, Notre Dame lost two students. Third-year law student Karabo Moleah, 26, died March 31 in Philadelphia; he had been studying in the Law School’s Washington D.C. program. He had previously lived in the Fischer O’Hara Grace student community, and his friends remember his questioning nature and intelligence.
On March 9, junior Theresa Sagartz was found dead in her off-campus residence from natural causes related to a chronic medical condition. A third generation member of the Notre Dame community, Sagartz was in the College of Science. Her friends and family remember her as adventurous, self-assured and generous with her time.
Major Headlines in the last four years
- Notre Dame initiates suit over HHS mandate, August 24, 2014:
On May 21, 2012, Notre Dame filed a lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate that requires employers to provide contraceptive services in their minimum health insurance plans. After a long court battle and a series of re-filings and appeals, Notre Dame filed a petition Oct. 3, 2014 requesting that the Supreme Court review a previous ruling by a federal court of appeals against Notre Dame. On May 9, 2015, the Supreme Court remanded the case to the same federal court of appeals, which again ruled against Notre Dame on May 19, 2015.
- University recognizes LGBTQ organization, Dec. 5, 2012:
On Dec. 5, 2012, the University released a formal statement declaring the result of a review process that lasted five months: the administrative support for students identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning would be increased. The recognition of the student organization, PrismND, was included in this statement.
- Students abroad witness papal election, March 19, 2013:
On March 13, 2013, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now known as Pope Francis, was elected Pope Benedict’s successor after two weeks of consideration by the conclave of cardinals. Pope Francis is the first Latin American Pope and the third consecutive non-Italian. Many of the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students who were abroad witnessed the turnover in St. Peter’s Square.
- Campus Crossroads, Jan. 24, 2014:
On Jan. 29, 2014, the University announced the $400 million “Campus Crossroads Project.” The undertaking is a renovation to the stadium, which will include classrooms, recreational facilities, meeting rooms and a student center. The purpose of the endeavor is to centralize every element of campus life in one location.
- Notre Dame announced new school for global affairs, Oct. 1, 2014;
On Oct. 1, 2014, the University announced plans to open the Donald R. Keough School of Global Affairs, the first new college at the University in nearly a century. It will be based in Jenkins Hall, a new building currently under construction, and R. Scott Appleby will serve as the Marilyn Keough Dean at the school.
- ESPN sues Notre Dame for record access, Jan. 15, 2015
On Jan. 15, 2015, ESPN filed a lawsuit against Notre Dame claiming NDSP violated Indiana’s public records law by refusing to release campus police records. Although the trial court judge ruled in Notre Dame’s favor in April 2015, ESPN won the appeal March 15, 2016 when the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that NDSP is a public agency.