Grant to help provide pre-college programming for underserved high school students

The Notre Dame office of pre-college programming has received a grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc, a private charitable organization based in Indianapolis. The funding provided by this grant will go towards providing pre-college programming for teens from underserved high schools in Indiana. 

The Lilly Endowment has offered other grants in the tri-campus community, including one to promote mental health in Notre Dame residence halls called the ‘People With Hope to Bring Initiative.’

To be eligible for the grant, Paul Mueller explained that high schoolers must come from an underserved high school in Indiana.

Mueller, who is the director of the office of pre-college programming, said his department determines which schools are considered underserved using a variety of factors. 

 “We use professional judgment from our admissions counselors that visit these high schools to flag schools that they thought might fit an underserved criteria. In other cases, we use federal rules to determine whether a school was underserved or under-resourced,” he said.

The grant will be used to reach out to high school students who otherwise might not have been thinking about college, Mueller said.

“Our traditional ‘Summer Scholars’ student has already been thinking about college. So, this population that Lilly is funding is a little bit of an outreach population to get their college search activated,” he explained.

Because of the additional funding from the endowment, Mueller said the pre-college office has grown its ‘Summer Scholars’ program to accommodate more students.

 “We’re growing summer programs, probably by about 25 percent next year and another 25 percent the subsequent years as a result of this,” Mueller said.

The ‘Summer Scholars’ program brings students onto Notre Dame’s campus where they take a course taught by Notre Dame faculty. Last year, there were 450 students in one session of the program, however, Mueller said that by next year it is expanding to two sessions with the total number of students between 555 and 575.

One of the main changes brought on by the grant is that the program will now include a college fair as a way of connecting students to other Indiana schools, Mueller said.

“The biggest difference for the students will be that we’re adding a college fair, where we’re asking our other Indiana colleges to come up and talk about what they have to offer. It’s a recognition that especially from the Lilly-funded students, not all of them will be able to get into Notre Dame, so let’s give them the opportunity to explore what other options they might have in the state,” he said.

Muller explained that the goal is to help underserved high school students put themselves in college students’ shoes and begin to think about the possibility of attending college. 

“The biggest benefit is to get them onto campus and get them projecting themselves at a four-year college, thinking about ‘this is possible. I can do this,’” he said.

Notre Dame students can get involved with pre-college programming as resident counselors, Mueller said. The students are hired as staff in the dorms. 

“[The summer staff] provide leadership. They show students the ropes, they get them to the dining halls on time and into their classes on time. So, it’s a terrific summer employment opportunity for people that are really interested in working with high school students,” Mueller said.

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‘Afro-Latinx Poetry Now’ to feature six visiting poets

Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies (ILS) and the Initiative on Race and Resilience will present “Afro-Latinx Poetry Now” on Tuesday and Wednesday, featuring six Afro-Latino visiting poets who will appear both publicly for talks in McKenna Hall and privately in selected Notre Dame classrooms.

Both days, Poetry Now’s public events will consist of “Poets on Poets” at 2 p.m., “Scholars on Poets” at 3:30 p.m. and “An Evening of Poetry” at 8 p.m.

In the “Poets on Poets” event, director of the ILS Letras Latinas initiative Francisco Aragon said the visiting poets will give brief talks “on Afro-Latinx poets of their choosing,” introducing another six poets to the audience over the event’s two days.

Starting 15 minutes after “Poets on Poets” concludes, the poets will then sit in the audience for “Scholars on Poets.”

“Six scholars in groups of three over two days will give talks on the work of these poets who are visiting us, which should be a special experience for them,” Aragon said.

For “An Evening of Poetry,” the final event on both days, the visiting poets will perform their own work in groups of three followed by a question-and-answer session and a book signing.

Poet Jasminne Mendez, one of the six poets attending the event, said she feels the event is a good way to uplift Afro-Latino voices in the literary community. 

“I thought this was a great way for us to all come together and be in community and share our experiences and our poetry as Afro-Latinx writers,” Mendez said.

Mendez said her personal experience was one of clashing identities and feelings, being Black while identifying culturally and ethnically with her Latino heritage.

“I think that my goal as a writer and performer is to try to expand people’s view and understanding of what blackness is and how it exists in the world and across the diaspora,” she said.

Aragon is especially looking forward to the classroom visit portion of Poetry Now.

“These aren’t people who are parachuting in, giving their reading and parachuting up,” Aragon said. “They’re gonna spend time with our students in classrooms, where these students have been reading and discussing and writing about their work.” 

Marisel Moreno, a professor in the department of romance languages and literature at Notre Dame, said she is excited for the dialogue her students will get to experience with poet Darrel Alejandro Holnes, who will visit one of her classes Tuesday.

“I’m hoping that they can, first of all, enjoy that interaction with him, learn more about him as a person to get to understand where he’s coming from and his poetry better,” Moreno said. 

Poetry Now, Aragon said, is a “modest contribution to what I believe is that national conversation of, ‘how can we celebrate the diversity of our communities, including our poets and writers?’”

Moreno said she feels Poetry Now is very significant as a literary gathering.

“I am honestly elated that this is taking place at Notre Dame,” she said. “It’s really a historic type of gathering, for a lot of Latinx writers, poets, artists in general, don’t tend to have much visibility.”

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Jenkins addresses faculty, outlines goals for University

Notre Dame will launch efforts to more effectively communicate its achievements in research, global engagement and diversity and inclusion, University President Fr. John Jenkins said in his annual address to the faculty Tuesday evening.

A recent survey authorized by The University last year revealed that Notre Dame is significantly less well known for its research than it is for its Catholic mission and football program, Jenkins said. Vice president for public affairs and communications Joel Curran will coordinate a strategy to better advertise Notre Dame’s research and global engagement.

“We must strive to inform a national and global audience about our academic work,” Jenkins said. 

Jenkins added that it is important that a greater emphasis on research does not lead to a decrease in the quality of teaching. 

Gauging public perception helps understand the perspectives of benefactors and prospective students, he said.

“It would be foolish to neglect public perceptions of The University for we know that such perceptions drive the students who apply to attend, the faculty we can attract and the support we receive from benefactors,” Jenkins said.

In addition to improving the perception of research programs, Jenkins said, The University also aims to improve the research programs themselves. 

Jenkins announced two new University goals, centered on graduate programs, asserting that Notre Dame will aim “to provide superb graduate and professional programs that are grounded in disciplinary excellence, foster interdisciplinary connections and are applied to the world’s most pressing problems and for advanced human understanding through scholarship and research that seeks to heal, enlighten and unify.”

Jenkins urged the faculty to help foster a “speak up” culture that can prevent sexual misconduct scandals that have plagued other universities, referencing the program “Living Notre Dame’s Values,” instituted by the office of human resources.

“We must also emphasize the importance of reporting misconduct of any kind and ensuring appropriate follow-up to such reports,” he said.

As a part of ongoing diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, Jenkins revealed the construction of the new Center for Diversity and Inclusion in LaFortune Student Center will begin in December. Jenkins also highlighted that this year’s incoming class is the most diverse in Notre Dame history with students of color and international students composing 40% of the class.

Jenkins went on to comment on the breadth of the opinion of speakers and faculty invited to campus in recent years, ranging from “1619 Project” journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and former speaker of the House Paul Ryan. 

“I understand that this range of views creates tensions and draws criticism from one group toward another,” he said, adding that he views the range of opinion as a “great strength” for The University and hopes to continue to welcome a wide array of views on campus in the future.

Jenkins turned his focus to the wage increase that took effect in August. “In July, The University announced a $25 million commitment to increase base compensation for eligible faculty, staff and student workers. This followed a $14 million one-time employee appreciation award for eligible employees in April and a $50 million pool for this year’s annual merit increases” Jenkins said, touting the largest recurring compensation increase in The University’s history. 

“Our challenge at Notre Dame in the next decade will be to produce fruits worthy of the blessings we have received.” Jenkins declared, “And the hopes so many have in The University to be ever more powerfully a force for good in the nation, the world and the church.”

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Notre Dame Law School scraps binding early decision application

Notre Dame Law School has ended binding early applications, the school’s office of admissions announced in a press release Wednesday. The release cited unfair wealth advantages and anxiety as main reasons for the elimination.

“Early decision programs tend to advantage wealthier students and create anxiety for many students when choosing an application program,” the release said.

The early decision application program bound students to Notre Dame Law School before they could weigh financial aid options, sparking the concerns that led to this decision.

Instead of the early decision program, applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, according to the press release.

“Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis beginning in Sept. and initial admissions decisions will be released in late Nov. or early Dec. While the application will close on March 15, prospective students are encouraged to submit applications early in the admissions cycle,” the law school wrote.

The law school heralded increasing diversity and first-generation law students in its last two classes, and said this latest step would promote further “diversity, equity and inclusion.”

“Our success at enrolling diverse students who have demonstrated excellence will be amplified by this modification of our admissions procedure,” G. Marcus Cole, dean of the law school, said in the statement.

Experts told Reuters, a news agency, that the move was expected, and that other law schools may follow. They cite “ongoing uncertainty about the national applicant pool and concerns about access and equity.”

The press release also said that students are encouraged to show commitment to the program in their “Why Notre Dame?” application essay.