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University administrators address recycling policies, construction in fall town halls

| Thursday, September 27, 2018

In a series of town halls this week, University administrators announced changes to the structure of the First Year of Studies, discussed a new early retirement program and provided updates on new recycling standards and construction projects.

In a response to a question about changes to the First Year of Studies, University provost Thomas Burish confirmed that the First Year of Studies would cease to operate as a separate college. Instead, he said advisors formerly from the First Year of Studies will now work with advisors from students’ majors. The core curriculum requirements will be spread over four years, rather than being concentrated in students’ first year. Additionally, students will now have the option to take courses for their major beginning their freshman year.

Natalie Weber | The Observer

John Affleck-Graces, executive vice president of Notre Dame, discusses reforms that the University is planning to implement in the final fall town hall held Wednesday evening held in Carey Auditorium.

Burish said the changes will allow students to explore more majors by taking a variety of introductory courses during their first year. For those first year students who have already decided on a major, the new system will allow them to get a head start on their fields of study, Burish said.

“You can start early, and if you made the wrong decision, you’ve got time to recover and get into another major because you have four years now to work these major decisions in,” he said.

During the town hall, university administrators also announced an early retirement program for staff. Details regarding the program will be released in the next few weeks, executive vice president John Affleck-Graves said.

“In essence, it will look very similar to the program we did in 2011,” he said. “Essentially, looking at people who are 62 years or older who have 10 years of service or people 55 years and older, with 15 years of service. And there will be some element of a lump sum payment that will be tied to the number of years you put in.”

Staff members will have until March or April of next year to decide whether to retire early, Affleck-Graves said.

The University is also implementing new recycling policies, Affleck-Graves said. In the past, recycling allowed for 10 percent contamination of materials.

“Those rules have changed because the places that used to take the recycling materials will no longer take them,” Affleck-Graves said. “And so, the new rules are that we can only have a 0.5 to one percent contamination. So that’s going to change the way that we’re going to ask you to recycle.”

Administrators are asking that members of the community follow the motto “When in doubt, throw it out.”

“If you put that food contaminated, when you put a liquid in, you’ve destroyed the good that everybody else has done,” he said. “If everyone else is being rigorous in their recycling and you’re not, what they end up doing is condemning the entire lot.”

During the town halls, administrators also provided information on construction projects across campus, including the demolition of McKenna Hall and Brownson Hall, the construction of a new art museum and updates on the Eddy Street Commons Phase II project.

“If you’re worried about there not being enough construction on campus, you don’t have to worry,” Affleck-Graves said jokingly.

McKenna Hall will be torn down and rebuilt on half of the current lot to match the building to current standards, Affleck-Graves said.

“McKenna has served us well, but it’s not a very efficient space,” he said. “There’s lots of open space in it, and some of the rooms for meetings aren’t up to standards you typically get at conferences nowadays. So, we’ve had very generous benefactors who have given us the funds, so we will replace McKenna Hall.”

Brownson Hall will also be torn down and the site will be used to create a new space for the Alliance for Catholic Education, Affleck-Graves said.

Additionally, Affleck-Graves said construction on the Eddy Street Commons Phase II will be completed in approximately 18 months to two years. A new art museum, funded by Ernestine Raclin and her daughter and son-in-law Carmen and Chris Murphy, is also set to be constructed. Currently, administrators plan to build the museum at the site of the Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park.

“Really, the long term dream of building this arts district on our campus really comes to fulfillment with an art museum, a sculpture park, school of architecture, performing arts, sacred music and the music library,” Affleck-Graves said. “So we’re really getting a beautiful area for the arts on campus.”

During a town hall, Affleck-Graves also answered a question about whether Notre Dame’s food inspections would be kept private following its deal with St. Joseph County.

“To me, it’s like filing our own taxes. … We were approached about that, we asked that they be kept private, for various reasons, as you know, that blew up in the press, so I think the agreement we have now, is that if we do them, we will make those public,” he said.

University President Fr. John Jenkins also spoke at the town halls, addressing concerns about keeping Notre Dame financially accessible.

“One challenge we have, and we all know it, a Notre Dame education for our students is extremely expensive,” he said. “It costs a lot of money, and we have to do everything we can to make a Notre Dame education affordable and make it effective.

“To do that, we give financial aid as one of our top priorities, and we have to try to keep costs down. Because to the extent we are more efficient, we can accept more students, we can give them more financial aid, we can be more affordable, more accessible to our students.”

Jenkins also addressed the sex abuse crisis facing the Catholic Church and encouraged staff members to report any concerns. Staff members can contact the University Integrity Line, Human Resources, Office of Institutional Equity or Audit and Advisory Services with any workplace concerns, Jenkins said.

“If there is an issue, if there is a misconduct and if there is misbehavior, it allows us to investigate it professionally and adjudicate it correctly,” he said. “So let us have that opportunity — if you see something, say something.”

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About Natalie Weber

Natalie is a junior majoring in English with minors in Journalism, Ethics & Democracy and Computing & Digital Technologies. She serves as News Editor at The Observer and is a native of Western Colorado.

Contact Natalie