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2009: The Year in Review

Author: Dennis Brown

Blue Seal

Each year at Notre Dame is filled with highlights, achievements and accomplishments. Here are some of the significant moments from 2009:

  • President Barack Obama served as the principal speaker at Notre Dame’s 164th University Commencement Ceremony on May 17. The visit, in the face of discord about the president’s position on abortion, received both criticism and support nationwide. Notre Dame’s president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., and Obama addressed the discord from the commencement platform.

  • Notre Dame hired Brian Kelly as the 29th head football coach in the University’s history. He replaces Charlie Weis, who was not retained after five years at the helm. At his introductory news conference, Kelly said: “We hear about academic standards. That is what the mission is of this University. That is the mission of Notre Dame, excellence in academics and athletics, and I wanted that challenge, and I’m excited about that challenge, that you can do it both in the classroom and be prominent in the athletic arena, as well.”

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Five professors earn NEH awards; ND leads nation for past 11 years

Author: Shannon Chapla

National Endowment for the Humanities

Five University of Notre Dame faculty members have received research fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for 2010, bringing to 42 the number of NEH fellowships awarded to Notre Dame in the past 11 years − more than any other university in the nation.

The NEH recipients from Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters are Karl Ameriks, Kathleen Cummings, Semion Lyandres, Mark Noll and Sophie White.

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Forbes ranks Fighting Irish as second most valuable college football program

Author: Dennis Brown

Notre Dame football helmet

Forbes magazine rated Notre Dame as the second most valuable college football program in the country in a survey published Dec. 22.

Using a set of standardized revenue and expense streams for each university surveyed, Forbes placed the team value of Fighting Irish football at $108 million. The University of Texas was rated first with a value of $119 million.

Forbes also listed the “dividends” generated by each football program by analyzing how much money was contributed back to the university as a whole and to other athletics programs after subtracting the cost of running the football operation. The magazine also factored into the dividend equation money generated by a football program through bowl game revenue and for its surrounding community.

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Department of Energy honors Notre Dame professor

Author: William G. Gilroy and Nina Welding

Joan Brennecke

Joan F. Brennecke, the Keating-Crawford Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and director of the University of Notre Dame Energy Center, has been chosen to receive the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award from the United States Department of Energy (DOE).

Presented by the secretary of energy, the Lawrence Award honors scientists and engineers at mid-career for their exceptional contributions in research and development supporting the DOE and its mission to advance the national, economic and energy security of the United States. The award is given in each of the following categories: chemistry, materials research, environmental science and technology, life sciences (including medicine), nuclear technologies (fission and fusion), national security and non-proliferation and high-energy and nuclear physics.

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Notre Dame anthropologist uses new genetics lab to research women’s health disparities

Author: Shannon Chapla

Jada Benn Torres

Jada Benn Torres, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Notre Dame, uses genetics to research the distribution of diseases across populations, with a primary focus on women’s reproductive health. Currently, she is trying to figure out why African-American women are at a higher risk of developing uterine fibroids.

Notre Dame’s first and only molecular anthropologist, Benn Torres recently celebrated the opening of her laboratory, which uses the tools and techniques developed in molecular genetics to address anthropological questions. This is an important new venture for Notre Dame’s Department of Anthropology, which is considered among the most innovative in the nation.

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Notre Dame’s First Year Dean Hugh Page edits new book on Africana biblical studies

Author: Michael O. Garvey

Hugh Page

“The Africana Bible: Reading Israel’s Scriptures from Africa and the African Diaspora,” a new book edited by Hugh R. Page Jr., dean of the First Year of Studies and associate professor of Theology and Africana Studies at the University of Notre Dame, recently was published by Fortress Press.

Page directed a team of editors from the Society of Biblical Literature’s African-American Biblical Hermeneutics Section in gathering a groundbreaking collection of essays by biblical scholars from Africa and the African Diaspora.

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Notre Dame study into food marketing to kids wins award

Author: Carol Elliott

Betsy Moore

Research into how companies pitch food marketing to children online recently earned significant recognition for the study’s authors.

Elizabeth S. Moore, University of Notre Dame Chair in Business and Associate Professor of Marketing, received the Thomas C. Kinnear/Journal of Public Policy & Marketing Award for “The Online Marketing of Food to Children: Is It Just Fun and Games?” with co-author Victoria J. Rideout of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. The article appeared in the fall 2007 issue of the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing.

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Robinson Shakespeare Company earns awards

Author: Shannon Chapla

Robinson Shakespeare Company

Four members of the Robinson Community Learning Center (RCLC)’s Robinson Shakespeare Company (RSC) earned awards in Shakespeare at Notre Dame’s second annual English Speaking Union Shakespeare Monologue Competition.

Rayelynn Lee placed first and Indonesia Holt placed second in the elementary division; Paul Ferguson was the top middle school student; and Charell Luckey placed first in the high school competition. Luckey will move on to represent the district at the state competition Feb. 28 in Indianapolis.

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Frederick Crosson, former dean of Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters, dies

Author: Michael O. Garvey

Frederick Crosson

Frederick J. Crosson, John J. Cavanaugh Professor Emeritus of Humanities at the University of Notre Dame, died Dec. 9 at Hospice House in South Bend. He was 83.

A member of the Notre Dame faculty since 1953, the same year he married Mary Patricia (Burns) Crosson, who survives him, Crosson specialized in phenomenology and existentialism, but studied and taught in a much broader variety of fields.

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Notre Dame professor Thomas Corke named AIAA fellow

Author: Nina Welding

Tom Corke

Thomas C. Corke, Clark Equipment Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Notre Dame, has been named a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

According to the institute, AIAA fellows are “persons of distinction who have made notable and valuable contributions to the arts, sciences or technology of aeronautics or astronautics.”

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Notre Dame launches new online campus tour

Author: Beth Grisoli

Main Building snow covered

The University of Notre Dame has created a virtual tour Web site to bring the beauty and spirit of the campus to anyone with Internet access.

Visitors to the new site, which can be accessed at, will find student-led video tours of campus, 360-degree panoramic photos, numerous still photos – both interior and exterior – that showcase buildings during various seasons of the year, and descriptive text of each venue. The virtual tour immerses viewers in the experience of being on campus.

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Notre Dame theology chair John Cavadini appointed Vatican advisor

Author: Michael O. Garvey

John Cavadini and Pope Benedict XVI

John C. Cavadini, associate professor and chair of theology and McGrath-Cavadini Director of the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Church Life, has been appointed to the International Theological Commission by Pope Benedict XVI.

The International Theological Commission consists of some 30 theologians from around the world. An advising body to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, its members are personally appointed by the pope, who reviews their credentials himself.

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Architecture students take second place in Brown to Green design competition

Author: Karen Voss

Architecture students

A team of six University of Notre Dame School of Architecture graduate students earned second prize in a design competition sponsored by the Ed Bacon Foundation.

The award-winning entry, submitted by Keith Kirley, Cindy Michel, Leon Li, Zeke Balan, Clayton Vance and C.J. Howard, earned the team a $1,500 prize at a ceremony held Dec. 8 at the Center for Architecture in Philadelphia. The students proposed a mixed-use development for an existing brownfield site along the Schuylkill River south of the University of Pennsylvania campus.

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New campaign launched to seat 1 million Hispanic children in Catholic schools

Author: Christian Dallavis and Julie Hail Flory

Our Lady of Guadalupe Mural

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On Dec. 12, a national task force commissioned by the University of Notre Dame will release a report and launch a campaign to improve educational opportunities for the next generation of American Latinos by expanding their access to Catholic schools.

Through the efforts of “The Catholic School Advantage: The Campaign to Improve Educational Opportunities for Latino Children,” the task force will seek to enroll 1 million Hispanic students in Catholic schools by 2020.

The report, titled “To Nurture the Soul of a Nation: Latino Families, Catholic Schools, and Educational Opportunity,” will be distributed to a national audience of 10,000 stakeholders on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, exactly one year after the task force was established by Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president.

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Holy Cross Father Jarret appointed superior of Moreau Seminary

Author: Michael O. Garvey

Rev. Peter A. Jarret, C.S.C.

Rev. Peter A. Jarret, C.S.C., religious superior of Holy Cross priests and brothers at the University of Notre Dame, has been appointed superior and rector of Moreau Seminary and coordinator of initial formation for the Indiana Province of the Congregation of Holy Cross, effective July 1.

Father Jarret has served as religious superior since 2006, with ministerial responsibility for the nearly 80 Holy Cross religious at Notre Dame. Prior to that appointment, he had served for five years as rector of Keough Hall, and as counselor to Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C., then Notre Dame’s president, from 2003 to 2005.

As religious superior of Holy Cross, Father Jarret is a Fellow of the University and member of the Notre Dame Board of Trustees.
A member of the provincial council of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Father Jarret serves on the University of Portland’s Board of Regents and chairs the board of Life Treatment Center. He also teaches courses on pastoral administration and the Sacrament of Reconciliation in Notre Dame’s master of divinity program

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Thomas P. Carney, former chairman of Notre Dame trustees, dies

Author: Michael O. Garvey

Thomas Carney

Thomas P. Carney, chairman emeritus of the University of Notre Dame’s Board of Trustees, died Monday (Dec. 7) after a long illness. He was 94.

“Tom Carney was a great scientist, a great humanist, a great administrator and a great friend,” said Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president during Carney’s years on the Board. “The Notre Dame family, of which he is so treasured a member, will always remember him with gratitude, respect and love.”

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Notre Dame professor invites friends and learners into Quran Circle

Author: Michael Lucien

Gabriel Reynolds

For most students, reading the Quran for an hour may sound like a homework assignment. For Gabriel Reynolds, associate professor of Islamic studies and theology at the University of Notre Dame, and the student members of the Quran Circle reading group, it is an extra-curricular activity with many benefits.

Established in 2004, the Quran Circle began when a few students and faculty members met informally to improve their Arabic in addition to discussing the language and the Quran.

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Goldblatt receives Asian literary prize for translation

Author: Shannon Chapla

Howard Goldblatt

Howard Goldblatt, research professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Notre Dame and the foremost translator of modern and contemporary Chinese literature in the West, has been awarded the 2009 Man Asian Literary Prize for his translation of “The Boat to Redemption” by Chinese author Su Tong.

The book is about a disgraced party official forced to make a new life among the boat people resulting in revolutionary impulse.

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Notre Dame astrophysicist to present Christmas Star lecture

Author: William G. Gilroy

Christmas star comet

University of Notre Dame astrophysicist Grant Mathews will give two presentations this month of his popular program titled “What and When was the Christmas Star?” in the Digital Visualization Theatre of Notre Dame’s Jordan Hall of Science.

The programs, which are free and open to the public, will take place at 4 p.m. Dec. 12 (Saturday) and 3 p.m. Dec. 13 (Sunday).

The Gospel of Matthew records a peculiar astronomical event that occurred at the birth of Christ. Mathews has applied the tools of modern astrophysics to the search for evidence of this event. His program will examine whether the “Christmas Star” was a nova, a super-nova or a planet alignment and discuss the possible identity of the “wise men from the East.”

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New book offers blueprint to build a more clever student

Author: Julie Hail Flory

Anita Kelly

College-bound students know they have to be book-smart in order to get in to a top school. But when it comes to impressing professors and standing out in the crowd, good grades are only one part of the equation.

A new book by a University of Notre Dame psychologist emphasizes the importance of “practical intelligence” and offers advice to new college students on how to give their teachers what they really want and get the most out of their hard-earned – and often expensive – college education.

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College of Science programs find opportunities in laboratories for undergrads

Author: Gene Stowe

Undergraduate research

Undergraduate research, a longstanding natural element of a College of Science education at the University of Notre Dame, has accelerated in recent years with an increased commitment to make such opportunities available in a systematic way.

New and expanded programs, both during the academic year and during the summer, are bringing more students into research, with the goal that any science student who wants them can have access to research opportunities.

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Notre Dame theologian Gary Anderson examines sin

Author: Michael O. Garvey

Gary Anderson

G.K. Chesterton famously described original sin as “the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved.” Not everyone agrees with Chesterton, but the abundance of evidence in support of his assertion is certainly compelling.

Familiarity with the effects of sin, overuse and abuse of the term and the exhaustion of religious vocabulary seem to have dulled the culture’s appreciation for this intrinsic element of human life and striving.

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Father Mark Poorman to step down as VP for student affairs; to be succeeded by Father Thomas Doyle

Author: Dennis Brown

Father Mark Poorman, C.S.C. and Father Thomas Doyle, C.S.C.

After 11 years as vice president for student affairs at the University of Notre Dame, Rev. Mark L. Poorman, C.S.C., will leave the position to return to the theology faculty, effective June 30. He will be succeeded by Rev. Thomas P. Doyle, C.S.C., the executive vice president at the University of Portland.

“Father Poorman has provided outstanding service to the students, faculty and staff of Notre Dame as our vice president for student affairs,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. “On behalf of the University community, I thank him for his organizational leadership, his generous contributions as a Holy Cross priest-administrator, and, most importantly, his wholehearted dedication to our students. I look forward to continued collaboration with him in our efforts to reach our academic aspirations and to deepen Notre Dame’s Catholic identity.

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Notre Dame nonprofit offerings expand, get new name

Author: Carol Elliott

Nonprofit Professional Development

For more than 50 years, the University of Notre Dame has served the nonprofit industry by developing exemplary leaders through a specialized graduate business degree, the Master of Nonprofit Administration. Now the University is adding executive education to the nonprofit service mix offered by the Mendoza College of Business.

The expanded unit will be known as Nonprofit Professional Development. It comprises two arms of nonprofit education – the non-degree Nonprofit Executive Programs (NEP) and the Master of Nonprofit Administration (MNA) degree.

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Notre Dame to host panel presentation on conscience clauses

Author: Michael O. Garvey

Blue Seal

Watch Video Video

A panel discussion titled “What Would a Good Conscience Clause Look Like? A Catholic University’s Perspective” will be held Dec. 3 (Thursday) at 12:30 p.m. in the Patrick F. McCartan Courtroom of the University of Notre Dame’s Eck Hall of Law.

The discussion will concern how Catholic teaching and tradition, scholarship and legal developments might inform efforts to protect the rights of conscience of health workers, pregnant women, taxpayers and other citizens.

The panelists are Rev. Michael D. Place, chair of the International Federation of Catholic Health Institutions; O. Carter Snead, associate professor of law in the Notre Dame Law School; and Margaret F. Brinig, Fritz Duda Professor of Law in the Notre Dame Law School.

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Busting myths about extremist legislators

Author: Josh Stowe

John Griffin

John Griffin, associate professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame, has helped debunk a myth about ideologically extreme legislators in an award-winning paper he co-wrote, raising the question of whether citizens hold elected officials accountable.

Conventional wisdom holds that extremist legislators fare worse than moderate ones in congressional elections because they’re more likely to vote in ways that don’t reflect their constituents’ policy preferences—a pattern that voters don’t tolerate.

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Notre Dame on iTunes U now available

Author: Julie Hail Flory


The University of Notre Dame has joined some 300 top institutions of higher education on iTunes U, a dedicated area within Apple’s iTunes Store that features lectures, lessons and other materials produced by colleges and universities.

Notre Dame on iTunes U contains more than 600 free, downloadable audio and video files representing academics, research, campus life, faith and service, as well as a variety of offerings from Notre Dame OpenCourseWare, a free and open educational resource for faculty, students, and self-learners throughout the world. There also is a section dedicated to alumni, parents and friends.

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Notre Dame theologian John Cavadini receives high papal honor

Author: Michael O. Garvey

John Cavadini

John C. Cavadini, associate professor and chair of the theology department and McGrath-Cavadini Director of the Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame, has been named by Pope Benedict XVI a member of the Order of the Knights of St. Gregory the Great.

Cavadini received the papal honor at the request of Bishop John M. D’Arcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend, who praised Cavadini “for his study of Catholic theology, his recruiting of outstanding theologians for the theology faculty at Notre Dame, and his assistance to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.”

Established in 1831, the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great honors its recipients for service to the church, support of the Holy See, and for witnessing to the Catholic faith in their country and communities.

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ND sociologist Richard Williams discusses threats to minority home ownership

Author: Michael O. Garvey

William Richard

On Nov. 20, 1962, President Kennedy signed an executive order prohibiting federally-funded housing agencies from denying mortgages on the basis of race, color, creed or national origin.

According to University of Notre Dame sociologist Richard Williams, the dramatic improvement of American family housing security thus begun is now jeopardized both by the current economic crisis and misconceptions of what caused it.

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New book focuses on reconciling societies shattered by violence

Author: Joan Fallon

Ernesto Verdeja

How do you reconcile former enemies in a society shattered by war, genocide or violence?

In a new book, “Unchopping a Tree: Reconciliation in the Aftermath of Political Violence,” published by Temple University Press, Ernesto Verdeja answers this question by examining reconciliation efforts in post-conflict regions from Chile to South Africa to Bosnia and Herzegovina. He proposes a new theory of reconciliation — one focused on a process of public truth-telling, accountability for perpetrators, recognition of victims, commitment to the rule of law and, most importantly, cultivation of moral respect and dignity.

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