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Year in Review: 2018-2019

| Friday, May 17, 2019

Former President Jimmy Carter, television host David Letterman visit University for opening ceremony of Work Project — Aug. 26, 2018

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and former late-night television host David Letterman visited Notre Dame to commence their annual home building endeavor, the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project. The project — which runs through Habitat for Humanity — gathers a group of workers of spend a week building houses in a different geographical region of the U.S. each year. In 2018, the former White House couple, along with volunteers and future homeowners, helped to build a total of 22 new homes in Mishawaka.

During the ceremony, Rosalynn said the Carters held a long-term friendship with former University President Fr. Theodore Hesburgh.

“When Jimmy was president, there were refugees in Thailand coming from Cambodia, I think,” Rosalynn said. “I went to see them, and when I got home I had a phone call from Fr. Ted saying, ‘Let’s raise money and help those refugees.’ And of course, I was thrilled. And we raised a lot of money and became very close friends with Fr. Ted.”

US Poet Laureate visits Saint Mary’s — Sept. 5, 2018

United States Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith visited the College in September to speak at the annual Christian Culture Lecture. Smith spoke on the connection between poetry and spirituality, seeing both poetry and Christianity as a way to navigate the world. In the lecture, she said she recognized both creative pursuit and faith require submission to something greater than oneself and living outside the confines of logic. Smith read from her Pulitzer Prize winning book of poetry, “Life on Mars,” along with some excerpts from her other works. She said poetry is one of the most powerful ways she connects with spirituality and her faith.

“Poetry, like the language of belief, puts us in touch, if we let it, with our eternal selves,” Smith said. “Spiritual belief has given us a vocabulary for wonder, for the miraculous and indescribable. In so doing, it has argued compellingly for the necessity of metaphor as a means of making familiar and intimate what we otherwise could not comprehend.”

Jan Cervelli resigns as president of Saint Mary’s, files civil suit against College — Oct. 5, 2018

Board of Trustees chair Mary Burke announced then-Saint Mary’s President Jan Cervelli’s resignation in a letter to the College community Oct. 5. Burke said Cervelli resigned for personal reasons and former provost and senior vice president for academic affairs Nancy Nekvasil would assume the position of interim president. On March 12, 2019, Cervelli filed a civil suit against the College alleging Saint Mary’s failed to honor her employment agreement and breached a settlement agreement that stated she could continue working at Saint Mary’s as a tenured professor. In the suit, Cervelli claimed she was forced out by members of the Board of Trustees, including Burke. On March 22, the College filed a counterclaim to the suit that stated Saint Mary’s was not in breach of contract and acting within its rights as an institution. The legal proceedings and the search for a permanent replacement for Cervelli are ongoing. 

University announces it will revoke McCarrick’s honorary degree, forms task forces to address Church crisis

In response to the sex abuse scandal, University President Fr. John Jenkins created two campus task forces — the Campus Engagement Task Force and the Research and Scholarship Task Force — on Nov. 1, 2018. The Campus Engagement Task Force, led by director for the Klau Center for Civil and Human Rights and associate professor of law Jennifer Mason McAward and Fr. Gerry Olinger, University vice president for Mission Engagement and Church Affairs, hosted a series of listening sessions about the abuse crisis in November, in which students, faculty, staff and Notre Dame community members were invited to share their thoughts about the crisis. In a March 4 press release, Jenkins announced further University plans to address the crisis: making Church reform the focus of the 2019-2020 Notre Dame Forum, offering up to $1 million in research grants to “to fund research projects that address issues emerging from the crisis” and adding sexual abuse prevention and education to ministry formation programs.

Jenkins announced Notre Dame would revoke a 2008 honorary degree of laws awarded to former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick on Feb. 16. The decision was made after a Vatican canonical trial found McCarrick had broken his vows as a priest and sexually abused minors and adults. A report the Archdiocese of New York received brought forth allegations of sexual abuse against McCarrick more than six months earlier in June of 2018, and an archdiocesan review board found the allegations to be “credible and substantiated” following an investigation. Still, the University held off on rescinding until the Vatican announced its verdict. The University received national attention for holding off on revoking the degree. In a November letter to The Observer, a Notre Dame law student criticized Jenkins for comments he made regarding the nature of McCarrick’s abuse in an interview with Crux Magazine. Jenkins personally responded to the student’s criticism in an Observer letter to the editor later that month. The decision follows a precedent set by the University on April 26, 2018, when Notre Dame waited to revoke comedian Bill Cosby’s 1990 honorary degree until his conviction.

Saint Mary’s hosts 175th anniversary celebrations

2019 marked the 175th anniversary of Saint Mary’s founding. Anniversary celebrations began in January of 2019 and will extend throughout the rest of the year. Festivities kicked off Jan. 20 with service events, an opening Mass and dinner to commemorate the Feast of Blessed Basil Moreau, the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross. The events aim to remind students of Saint Mary’s core values of learning, community, faith and spirituality and justice established by the Sisters of the Holy Cross 175 years ago.

Jenkins announces Columbus murals will be covered — Jan. 20, 2019

In a Jan. 20 email to the student body, University President Fr. John Jenkins announced Notre Dame’s decision to cover the Luigi Gregori’s Christopher Columbus murals in the Main Building. The murals had long been the subject of controversy on campus for what some view as historically inaccurate depictions of Native Americans. Still, the University’s decision to cover the murals was met with national backlash from those who believe the murals to be of high artistic value and integral to Notre Dame’s Catholic identity. The decision sparked student activism on both sides of the controversy that would last for weeks. On Feb. 14, Jenkins announced the members of a committee which would advise the University on how to display the murals “in the appropriate context, as well as on related issues,” according to a Notre Dame press release.

Tri-campus community closes due to extreme weather

The tri-campus community canceled class the week of Jan. 28 in one of the most severe cold fronts to hit the Midwest in years — the “Polar Vortex.” Amid temperatures that neared -20 degrees, Notre Dame closed from 6 p.m. Jan. 29 to 1 p.m. Jan. 31. Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross closed Jan. 29 through Jan 31. During the closure, Holy Cross experienced a power outage from approximately 6:25 a.m. to noon Wednesday. During this time, on students were evacuated to North Dining Hall at Notre Dame. After the University reopened, there were also several pipe leaks across campus — in Duncan Student Center, the Main Building and Fitzpatrick and Cushing Halls of Engineering — caused by the extreme temperatures.

University announces new men’s dorm will be named Baumer Hall — March 6, 2019

The University announced in a March 6, 2019 press release Notre Dame’s newest residence hall will be named Baumer Hall in honor of John and Mollie Baumer, graduates of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s, respectively, who donated the $20 million which made the new men’s residence hall possible. Baumer will first serve as the temporary home for the residents of Dillon Hall, which will be undergoing extensive renovations throughout the 2019-2020 school year, prior to beginning its own community in the fall of 2020. Located just south of West Quad, next to Ryan Hall, Baumer is set to become Notre Dames 31st residence hall and will be joined by a new women’s residence hall currently under construction on east of Dunne Hall set to open in 2020.

Condoleezza Rice, John Kerry speak at Notre Dame — March 19, 2019 

Former secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and John Kerry visited Notre Dame on March 19, 2019. Rice — the 64th secretary of state who served under President George W. Bush and graduated from Notre Dame in 1975 — and Kerry, the 66th secretary under President Barack Obama, were brought to campus by the Common Ground Committee, a non-profit that invites leaders to discuss national issues in public settings. The two diplomats discussed and debated public policy issues such as climate change, North Korea and voter suppression, among other topics. Kerry said the only way to change politicians’ tendency toward “the hard policy of orthodoxy thinking” was through voting for more moderate representation, and Rice ended the panel by calling the audience to “own your democracy.”

Office of Residential Life announces residential life updates, incentives for seniors to stay on campus — April 11, 2019

The Offices of Student Affairs and Residential Life released a list of changes to Notre Dame’s residential policy an email to the student body April 11, 2019. In an April Observer article, vice president for student affairs Erin Hoffmann Harding called the changes a “bookend” to the University’s six-semester policy rolled out in fall of 2017. In the email, Hoffmann Harding and associate vice president for residential life Heather Rakoczy Russell announced plans to provide stipends for seniors who stay on campus, new meal plans, free laundry for on-campus residents, the elimination of the $500 occupancy fee for singles and improvements for kitchen facilities in residence halls. A final update will bar off-campus residents from certain on-campus activities, including attending dorm dances and participating in interhall sports. The decision was met with dissent of many in the Notre Dame community — on April 12, over 1,000 students gathered to protest the policy outside of the Main Building. Hoffmann Harding met with student senate April 30 to discuss the policy updates further.

Mayor Pete announces official bid for presidency — April 14, 2019

South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg announced his decision to run for president of the United States in an April 14, 2019 rally at the Studebaker building in downtown South Bend. Buttigieg, who has been mayor of South Bend since 2012, launched his exploratory committee Jan. 23. In his official announcement speech, Buttigieg said his presidency would focus on promoting ”freedom, security and democracy.” In this speech, he focused on several contested issues, including climate change activism and electoral college reform. If elected, Buttigieg would become the youngest president to hold office, as well as America’s first openly gay president.

University announces leprechauns for 2018-2019 school year — April 16, 2019

On April 16, 2019, Notre Dame announced the students chosen to represent the University as the official leprechaun mascots for the 2019-2020 academic year. The Notre Dame cheerleading program called the lineup the “most diverse roster” ever, as junior Samuel Jackson and sophomore Lynnette Wukie will be the second and third African Americans to hold the role, with Wukie becoming the University’s first female leprechaun. Sophomore Conal Fagan, returning for his second year as a leprechaun, is also the University’s first native Irishman to hold the position.

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