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Breen-Phillips Hall rector takes temporary leave of absence

In an email to Breen-Phillips Hall (BP) residents, director of residential life for rector recruitment, hiring and retention Breyan Tornifolio informed students that dorm rector Angie Hollar is taking a temporary leave from her role.

“We expect her back by mid-April and will miss her while she is gone,” Tornifolio wrote in the email.

Hollar’s leave of absence follows two hall staff departures within the last two months, after the rectors of Walsh and Badin Hall stepped down late in the fall 2022 semester.

Tornifolio also announced that Judy Hutchinson, director of student engagement for Notre Dame International (NDI), will step in as interim rector for BP.

“Judy will move into BP on Sunday, Jan. 22 and will live in the BP rector apartment,” Tornifolio said in the email. 

Additionally, Tornifolio gave a biography of Hutchinson to allow residents to learn more about their new rector, including that Hutchinson has previously served as a rector for a total of 10 years —both on campus and abroad.

In her current role with NDI, Hutchinson’s responsibilities include coordinating study abroad programs, supporting NDI’s Gateway network and overseeing pastoral and formative care for study abroad students.

Concluding her email, Tornifolio encouraged BP residents to remain optimistic and confident during the hall’s transition period and wished them well in their spring semester.

“I know that change can be hard, but I’m confident we have a good plan to get us through this period of time,” Tornifolio wrote. “Many blessings on you as you move back into BP and know of my prayers for the upcoming semester.”

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Badin rector leaves, second departure announced this week

Azucena “Ceni” De La Torre, the former rector of Badin Hall, left her position late this week, according to an email sent to Badin residents Friday afternoon. De La Torre’s departure is the second to be announced in three days, following Walsh Hall’s former rector Kate Palko on Wednesday. De La Torre previously worked with campus ministry at DePaul University.

A reliable source relayed to The Observer that “this departure is not related to any kind of wrongful or inappropriate conduct.”

The email sent to residents from Nathan Elliot, director of residential life for training and development, also announced that Sr. Mary Lynch will lead the Badin community until a new rector is hired in January. Lynch is the former rector of McGlinn Hall and a current staff-in-residence who lives on campus.

Lynch — like Carol Latronica, who is acting as the fill-in rector for Walsh — will not move into the dorm. According to the email, Lynch “will be present in different ways, including supervising the staff and offering a rector’s expertise through the rest of the semester.”

In a GroupMe message sent to residents, assistant rector Godgift Iteghete acknowledged residents’ reactions to De La Torre’s sudden departure.

“We understand many of you may have built a relationship with [De La Torre] and are distraught to hear the news,” Iteghete said in the message.

She also said that further details would not be provided to residents.

“As per receiving further details regarding this matter please understand that hall staff is not at liberty to discuss further as it is a private Residential Life employee matter,” she wrote.

Elliot noted that Lynch would be present in Badin Hall Friday night from 7 to 9 p.m. and urged residents to reach out with concerns.

“I know that change can be hard, but I’m confident we have a good plan to get us through this period of time. Please feel free to reach out to Sr. Mary or stop by to meet her tonight,” he wrote.

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Walsh Hall rector unexpectedly departs

Kate Palko, the rector of Walsh Hall, “will no longer serve” in that position, according to an email sent to residents on Wednesday evening by Bre Tornifolio, a director of residential life who supervised Palko and Walsh Hall. Residents reported Palko had already left the dorm.

“I write tonight to share the news that effectively immediately Kate will no longer serve as Rector of Walsh Hall,” Tornifolio wrote. “Please know Residential Life is grateful for Kate’s service, and is fully committed to supporting the Walsh community during this transition.”

The Observer learned from a reliable source the move is “not related to any kind of wrongful or inappropriate activity.”

The email to residents also announced that the position will be temporarily filled by former rector Carol Latronica.

“Carol will not move into the hall but will be present in different ways, including supervising the staff and offering a rector’s expertise through the rest of the semester,” Tornifolio said.

Tornifolio’s email also said the office of residential life will be hiring a new rector, who will begin in January.

Palko began her term in Walsh Hall this year, and has departed with less than a semester serving in the position. Three months ago, she told The Observer that she was excited to serve as a rector.

“I’ve always wanted to go to Notre Dame, so this is a really cool moment for me. I applied there during high school, and I didn’t get in, and I thought that was like the end of the world,” she explained. “I applied [to be a rector] in the spring of my final year in grad school, and when I got the interviews, I was just flying because it was such an out of body experience.”

She had also expressed her mental preparation for the job.

“I’ve been purposely setting my mind to be open-minded because I can’t imagine all of the things that I’m not even aware that I’m going to encounter yet.”