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Nine residence halls welcome new rectors

| Friday, August 20, 2021

As the 2021-22 school year gets underway, nine rectors are settling into life in their new positions at the heart of Notre Dame campus life. Six are first-time rectors, and three are returning rectors in new positions. 

Incoming Keenan Hall rector Bobby Nichols had never stepped foot on the campus, laden with landmarks such as the Golden Dome and Touchdown Jesus, until he began his position this summer.

“I feel almost in some ways excited just like a first year student is excited to see, ‘what is this place?’” Nichols said.

Hailing from Louisville, Kentucky, Nichols’ passion for Catholic education led him to seek out a rector position at Notre Dame. He graduated from Xavier University in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in Theology before returning to his high school alma mater where he directed retreats and taught theology. Before becoming the rector of Keenan Hall, Nichols attended a two-year Master’s program in Theology at Villanova University.

Nichols said he’s excited to experience the Keenan Hall community and learn from the students and hall staff how he can best serve the dorm.

“While I’m the rector and supposed to be leading the charge, in reality, the men of Keenan Hall have lived here and experienced Keenan and Notre Dame more than I have,” he said. “And so there’s a lot that I had to learn from them and with them.”

After attending Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, the new rector of Farley Hall, Tricia McCarthy, participated in the Notre Dame Echo Graduate Service Program, living in an intentional faith community and earning her Master’s degree in Theology. Her experience in the Echo program further piqued her interest in ministry and eventually led her to discern the rector position at Notre Dame after serving as director of campus ministry at Butler University. 

Since hearing about the residence hall tradition during her time in the Echo program, McCarthy is excited to finally experience what life on campus as an undergraduate is like.

“I’m really excited to get to know the women of Farley Hall and walk with them as they experience Notre Dame and to learn what it means, what an undergraduate experience at Notre Dame looks like,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy said she anticipates facing some challenges as the campus community recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think that a challenge we’ll face this year is learning how to be together again, and what that looks like in a way that brings out the best parts of Notre Dame and each other,” she said.

Keough Hall rector Gabe Griggs returns to Notre Dame after graduating from the University in 2014 and serving as an assistant rector in Dillon Hall. A South Bend native, Griggs will be ordained as a Holy Cross priest in April 2022. 

Griggs said he hopes he can help the men of Keough develop their talents to be of service to others and witness growth in their daily lives.

“As residents of a residential community, the men of Keough have the opportunity to share life together, in its triumphs and tragedies, and in the glory of the mundane aspects that go into daily life,” Griggs said in an email. “It is my great joy to be in the midst of that mundanity and to be a witness to the way in which young people at this university grow into a fuller human and Christian maturity.”

Azucena “Ceni” De La Torre will take over as the new rector of Badin Hall. De La Torre grew up in Chicago and attended DePaul University, working in campus ministry there before becoming a rector.

In Fisher Hall, Joey Quinones steps in to serve as rector, filling the shoes of Rick Mazzei who stepped down in May 2021 after seven years as the Fisher rector. Quinones graduated from Notre Dame in 2018 and earned his master’s in education in 2020 through the ACE program, where he taught fifth graders in Tulsa, Oklahoma for two years. 

After stepping down as Fisher rector, Mazzei recently accepted an invitation from Residential Life to fill in as interim rector of O’Neill Family Hall. Mazzei, who graduated from Notre Dame in 1978, has served as a Catholic school educator in various capacities for the past 43 years. 

Fr. Bill Dailey returns to Notre Dame as rector of Pangborn Hall. A 1994 Notre Dame graduate, Dailey has served as a lecturer at the Notre Dame Law School, rector of Stanford Hall and Zahm House and founding director of the Notre Dame Newman Centre for Faith and Reason in Dublin, Ireland.

The new rector of Ryan Hall, Ally Liedtke, begins her new role after years of experience in campus ministry and Catholic education. Liedtke, who grew up in Seattle, spent the last two years working in Boston College’s campus ministry program.

Sara Thoms returns to the Undergraduate Community in Fischer, a community that formed last year in the wake of cancelled study abroad opportunities and upperclassmen in need of housing, after serving as rector in the fall of 2020. Thoms earned a Master of Divinity degree from Notre Dame in 2018 and has worked in Residential Life for three years.

Elizabeth Clarke takes over as rector in Lyons Hall. After attending the University of Dayton, Clarke completed her Master’s in Theology as part of Notre Dame’s Echo program, where she lived and worked in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Clarke returns to Notre Dame after completing a Master of Divinity degree at the University following her time in the Echo program. She said she is excited to help contribute to growth and development of her residents.

The heart of a University of Notre Dame undergraduate education is the intellectual, social, physical and spiritual formative opportunities available in the residence halls,” Clarke said in an email. “The Rector position allows me to combine my interests and experiences in Student Affairs and pastoral ministry to educate the minds and hearts of students.”

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About Ryan Peters

Ryan is a sophomore in Knott Hall who hails from Lake Forest, Illinois. He is majoring in marketing and — temporarily — political science. He currently serves as an associate news editor for The Observer. Follow him on Twitter @peterrsryan.

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