Notre Dame Resources

Author: Dennis Brown and Michael O. Garvey

Russia: Notre Dame political scientist Martha Merritt says of the March 26th presidential election in Russia: “Boris Yeltsin’s resignation was timed to allow him to do something the Soviet leaders never managed: select a successor. The intense manipulation of state-controlled media prior to the legislative elections in December led to electoral success for Yeltsin’s chosen party, and now acting President Vladimir Putin will try to exercise the same control. This is not democracy. Stage-managed elections, timed for incumbent advantage, do not allow the people a real choice.”
*Note: Professor Merritt will conduct a policy briefing in February for the State Department on the Russian presidential election and will be in Moscow for the election itself. She can be reached for further comment at (219) 631-7695 or at

  • p. Home loans: New research by a University of Notre Dame sociologist suggests that the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may not be meeting their government mandate to “lead the mortgage finance industry in making credit available for low- and moderate-income families.” Richard Williams , associate professor and chair of sociology at Notre Dame, is one of 11 independent researchers nationwide who received funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to study the performance of the GSEs in serving the targeted markets of low-income and minority neighborhoods and families. The Williams study examined the effect of the GSEs, as well as the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and financial institution characteristics, on home mortgage lending to underserved markets in Indiana from 1992-96. *Professor Williams can be reached for further comment at (219) 631-6668 or .
  • p. Elian Gonzale : Six-year-old Elian Gonzale should be returned to his father in Cuba, says Barbara Szweda , codirector of the Notre Dame Legal Aid Clinic and an expert in immigration law. “From the standpoint of immigration law, it is pretty clear that the child should be returned to Cuba,” says Szweda. “The only grounds for his remaining in the United States would be that he was seeking asylum, which requires that he make a showing that he was persecuted or feared persecution based on his political opinion, religion, nationality, ethnicity or social group. He can’t meet that burden.” Family law also dictates that young Elian should be returned to his father, according to Szweda. “His father had an ongoing relationship with the boy prior to his leaving Cuba and his parental rights have never been terminated,” she said. “Furthermore, there has been no proof offered that the father in any way mistreated or abused the child. Distant relatives have no right under the law to speak for the child. In my opinion, the child belongs with his father.” F *For further comment, contact Szweda at (219) 631-7637 or
  • p. American West : Notre Dame historian Walter Nugent recently has produced two new books on the history, people and culture of the American West. Nugent is the author of “Into the West: The Story of Its People,” published by Knopf, and the coeditor of “The American West: A Reader,” published by Indiana University Press. With 32 pages of photographs and 17 maps, the 490-page “Into the West” is a full-scale history of the people of the western United States, from the Paleo-Indians, to the Spanish conquistadors and settlers, to the gold rushers, to contemporary Western newcomers. Publisher’s Weekly says in its review of the book: “Nugent’s vibrant multicultural history of the American West shatters a number of myths. He finds that the popular mythology of an Old West of wagon trains, Indian raids and range wars is an ‘entirely Anglo-centric’ narrative that conceals the West’s richly diverse ethnic and racial heritage.” “The American West: A Reader” is a collection of essays that deal with the dreams, experiences, values and ideas of the diverse groups of people who made their lives in different parts of the West. Nugent collaborated on the book with Martin Ridge, senior research associate of the Huntington Library and former president of the Western History Association. *Professor Nugent can be reached for further comment at (219) 631-7720, (219) 921-1080, or .
  • p. Martyrs : For Dr. Martin Luther King and other non-Catholics to be declared martyrs by Pope John Paul II is “something absolutely new,” Lawrence Cunningham , professor of theology, told the Boston Globe. “The pope is aware of the fact that it wasn’t only Catholics who went to concentration camps or Siberia, and he thinks it’s only fair to make a list of all Christians who died for the faith. He says he does not want these people to be forgotten.” Professor Cunningham can be reached for further comment at (219) 631-7137.
    p. Campaign 2000 : The low percentages of minorities and urban residents in New Hampshire and Iowa relative to the nation as a whole make it “titanically troubling” that those two states play such “influential roles in the presidential selection process,” Robert Schmuhl , professor and chair of American studies at Notre Dame, writes in an op-ed for the Chicago Tribune. “There needs to be a concerted effort to reform the presidential nominating system itself, making it more representative and democratic for the nation in its diverse totality. A methodical, regional arrangement of several states voting over three or four months in a coherent process would be a welcome start in improving the current, every-state-for-itself chaos.” *Professor Schmuhl is teaching at Notre Dame’s Keough Study Centre in Dublin, Ireland, this semester, but can be reached by email for further comment at
  • p. Marriage : “Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying,” edited by Amy A. Kass and Leon R. Kass, both faculty members of the University of Chicago, was recently published by Notre Dame Press. An anthology of 60 selections from a wide variety of sources, book is intended to address the contemporary culture’s occluded understanding and diminished expectations of the love that leads to marriage. It includes marriage vows and blessings from Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu traditions as well as readings from Homer, Herodotus, Plato, Erasmus, Shakespeare, Rousseau, Austen, Darwin, Tolstoy, Rainer Maria Rilke, C.S. Lewis, Miss Manners, and Robert Frost, from whose sonnet, “The Master Speed,” the anthology derives its title. According to the Kasses, “these deeply silvered mirrors bequeathed to us from the past (enable) us to see ourselves the way we truly are – and could be” and are “useful not only for self-understanding but even for conducting his or her own courtship or for better educating our children toward the promises of marriage.” For more information, contact Julie Dudrick at Notre Dame Press at (219) 631-6346.
    p. American excessiveness : A new book by Robert Schmuhl , professor and chair of American studies at Notre Dame, takes a critical look at the American penchant for going to extremes in the arts, popular culture, politics and social movements. Published this month by Notre Dame Press, “Indecent Liberties” is a series of eight new essays in which Schmuhl analyzes the dangers and consequences of carrying fundamental American freedoms too far. He argues for seeking public and private equilibrium because to do otherwise results in “indecent liberties” that endanger the nation’s future. Schmuhl considers historical examples – such as the hunting of buffalo in the West, Prohibition, and business ventures in the Gilded Age – but devotes most of his attention to contemporary affairs, including shock entertainment, the decline of privacy, and excessive media coverage of stories such as the O.J. Simpson trial and the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal. *Professor Schmuhl is teaching at Notre Dame’s Keough Study Centre in Dublin, Ireland, this semester, but can be reached by email for further comment at

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