Four years in review: 2015-2019
Observer Staff Report | Friday, May 17, 2019
Jan Cervelli resigns as President of Saint Mary’s, files civil suit against College
On Oct. 5, Jan Cervelli resigned from her position as president of Saint Mary’s — just under two years after her official inauguration on Nov. 12, 2016. In an Observer article from Oct. 8, Board of Trustees chair Mary Burke said it was “[Cervelli’s] decision alone to resign.”
Cervelli filed a civil suit against Saint Mary‘s on March 12 stating members of the College’s Board of Trustees pressured her to resign and did not honor a settlement agreement that would allow Cervelli to stay at Saint Mary’s as a tenured professor.
On March 22, the College filed a counterclaim response to Cervelli’s lawsuit. Cervelli filed a response to their counterclaim on April 4.
The lawsuit has not been resolved. The two parties will present their cases May 31 in the St. Joseph Superior Court.
10 ND students lost in four years
Five Notre Dame students died 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 Townsend 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.
In 2016, Notre Dame lost two students.
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 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 the rector of BP. She was remembered for her sense of humor and her commitment to her ministry.
Major headlines in the last four years
- 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.
- Vice President Mike Pence as 2017 Commencement Speaker prompts walkout (May 21, 2017)
Vice President Mike Pence gave the Notre Dame commencement speech on May 21, 2017, 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 (Oct. 27, 2017)
The University announced on Oct. 27, 2017 it would no longer cover contraceptives through its third party, government-funded insurer. On Nov. 7, 2017, it reversed these changes and said its third party insurers would continue to cover contraception. On Feb. 7, 2018, Notre Dame announced it would abandon its third-party coverage and pay for coverage of “simple contraceptives” through its own health plan.
- Campus crossroads project completed (Jan. 15, 2018)
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.
- Columbus murals to no longer be on full display (Jan. 20, 2019)
On Jan. 20, Fr. Jenkins announced Notre Dame would cover the Columbus murals, a series of 19th-century paintings by Italian artist Luigi Gregori on display in the Main Building. The murals, which depict the life and work of Christopher Columbus, were criticized for years for their depiction of Columbus as a savior figure to Native Americans. In a statement to the student body, Jenkins said the murals would soon be covered with a ”woven material,” but that high-resolution photographs of the paintings would eventually be displayed in an environment more conducive to consideration elsewhere on campus.
- Polar Vortex: Tri-campus community closes as temperatures near record lows (Jan. 29-31, 2019)
The tri-campus community canceled classes when sub-zero temperatures swept the Midwest the week of Jan. 28. Notre Dame closed from 7 p.m. Jan. 29 and reopened 1 p.m. Jan. 31. Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross closed from Jan. 29-31, reopening on Feb. 1. During the Vortex, Holy Cross lost power from approximately 6:25 a.m. to noon Jan. 30. Notre Dame experienced a number of pipe bursts and other leaks following the vortex. The last time the tri-campus community closed due to winter weather was Jan. 27-28, 2014.