Four years in review: 2014-2018
Observer Staff Report | Friday, May 18, 2018
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 in Purcell Pavilion on March 4.
University President Fr. John Jenkins described Fr. Hesburgh as a moral force in a statement sent to the student body.
“Next to Notre Dame’s founder, Father Edward Sorin, C.S.C., no one has had a greater impact on the University than Fr. Ted,” Jenkins said. “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.”
Eleven ND, SMC students lost in four years
2014 witnessed the death of one Notre Dame student and one Saint Mary’s student. 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 former 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.
Notre Dame lost five students 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. Her friend recalls Rebecca saving his life by pushing him out of the way of the car.
Junior Jake Scanlan, a mechanical engineering major from North Potomac, Maryland, died in his bed in Siegfried Hall on Nov. 11. His friends said he treated everyone like an old friend and loved to make people smile.
Two Notre Dame students died in 2016. Third-year law student Karabo Moleah, 26, died March 31 in Philadelphia while studying in the Law School’s Washington D.C. program. 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, her friends and family remember her as adventurous, self-assured and generous with her time.
In 2017, Notre Dame lost two students. First-year law student Travis McElmurry, who was dual-enrolled at the business school, died in his off-campus residence on March 12. His friends said he had an easygoing nature and loved his dog.
On March 31, former undergraduate student Edward Lim died at his home in Cincinnati. His friends said Lim had made a significant impact on the community during his time at the University, and remembered his love for music, philosophy and the Notre Dame Chorale.
Notre Dame lost one rector in 2018. On Feb. 7, Sister Mary McNamara, the rector of Breen-Phillips (BP) Hall, died from complications related to a stroke. Sister McNamara’s loved ones said she found her dream job as BP’s rector. She was remembered for her sense of humor and her commitment to her ministry.
Major Headlines in the last four years
- 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.
- Donald Trump elected President of the United States, Nov. 9, 2016
In the early hours of Nov. 9, 2016, Donald Trump officially defeated Hillary Clinton to become the 45th U.S. President. The reactions of students ranged from excitement to shock to fear. In the aftermath of the election, students formed a new student group at the University, We Stand For.
- Jan Cervelli inaugurated as 12th Saint Mary’s President, Nov. 12, 2016
After officially taking office on June 1, 2016, College President Jan Cervelli was officially inaugurated as the 12th head of the school. Cervelli succeeded College President Emeritus Carol Ann Mooney, who served for 12 years before retiring in 2016.
- Vice President Mike Pence as 2017 Commencement speaker prompts walkout
On May 21, 2017, Vice President Mike Pence gave the Notre Dame Commencement speech, prompting approximately 100 graduates to walk out of the ceremony in protest. The walkout was organized by We Stand For, a social-justice oriented student group. Reactions to the walkout were mixed and the event attracted national news coverage.
- University announces changes to contraceptive coverage policy
After the Trump administration repealed the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandates requiring employers to provide contraceptive coverage, the University announced on Oct. 27, 2017 it would no longer cover contraceptives through its third party, government-funded insurer. On Nov. 7, 2017, the University reversed these changes and said its third-party insurers would continue to provide contraception at no cost to those under its health plan. Then, on Feb. 7, 2018, Notre Dame announced it would abandon its third-party contraceptive coverage, as this plan included abortifacients. Instead, the University would pay for coverage of “simple contraceptives” through its own health plan.
- Campus Crossroads project completed
After four years of construction, the $400 million Campus Crossroads project was completed with the opening of the Duncan Student Center, O’Neill Hall and Corbett Family Hall. The purpose of the project was to centralize every element of campus life in one location and included new classrooms, recreational facilities, meeting rooms and a student center.