Notre Dame News https://news.nd.edu/ Notre Dame News gathers and disseminates information that enhances understanding of the University’s academic and research mission and its accomplishments as a Catholic institute of higher learning. en-us 2020-08-14T00:48:22+0000 Americans actively engaging in collectivism as financial buoy, experts say https://news.nd.edu/news/americans-actively-engaging-in-collectivism-as-financial-buoy-experts-say/ news_128203 2020-08-13T10:00:00-0400 Colleen Sharkey Karen Richman, University of Notre Dame director of undergraduate studies at the Institute for Latino Studies, and her colleague Joelle Saad-Lessler, associate teaching professor and associate dean of undergraduates at Stevens Institute of Technology, found that many people in the U.S. are relying on informal networks of family and friends to stay afloat in a recent study.

Americans actively engaging in collectivism as financial buoy, experts say

Colleen Sharkey

The economic effects of the coronavius in the U.S. have brought Americans’ preexisting financial precarity into stark focus. Karen Richman, University of Notre Dame director of undergraduate studies at the Institute for Latino Studies, and her colleague Joelle Saad-Lessler, associate teaching professor and associate dean of undergraduates at Stevens Institute of Technology, found that many people in the U.S. are relying on informal networks of family and friends to stay afloat in a recent study.

“Since the advent of COVID-19, the media has been reporting on surprising selfless demonstrations of mutual aid as Americans have helped one another cope with the sudden shattering of their (already) volatile financial situations,” Richman said. “However, there was strong evidence that collectivist exchanges of money, housing and caregiving were helping people stay afloat, even before the pandemic.”

Before the pandemic hit, declining incomes, coupled with escalating costs of housing, childcare, eldercare, higher education and healthcare, made it nearly impossible for the average American to set aside liquid savings. A 2018 Federal Reserve Bank Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households found that 40 percent of American adults did not have as much as $400 to cover an unexpected expense.

Without access to credit from banks, secure housing, childcare or accumulated retirement savings, many people in the U.S. are adopting collectivist practices. Collectivism is a moral orientation that enjoins the continuous pooling of resources and circulation of care across families, households and generations. Richman and Saad-Lessler’s previous research illuminated how, beneath the radar, many Latinos (in the U.S. and in their countries of origin) cope with their material insecurity and estrangement from formal sources of savings by practicing collectivism. They build social credit and social wealth in an informal “bank” from which they are entitled to draw in the short and long term, in emergencies and in retirement.

Collectivist systems limit, and treat as immoral, individualism and private accumulation — the same values and behaviors that define American mainstream culture and the financial industry takes as essential givens. Collectivism, which is prevalent in low-resourced, small-scale communities throughout the world, appears to be increasingly common in American society for two primary, interrelated reasons: demographic change involving the growth of minority and immigrant populations (including Latinos), and the spread of economic insecurity to white demographics. 

To measure collectivism in relation to formal savings across all U.S. demographics in research Richman and Saad-Lessler are currently conducting, they are using the U.S. Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). With approximately 30,000 respondents, it is one of the largest and most informative national panel surveys available. They created a means of measuring Americans’ collectivism by assigning “collectivism scores” — their uses of this informal bank — in comparison to their participation in the formal savings system.

Indicators of collectivism in the SIPP include evidence of financial support and in-kind assistance with housing and caregiving that extend beyond the nuclear family to other households and generations. They found that the higher a person’s collectivism score (or their embeddedness in informal networks of exchange), the lower their retirement savings and the higher a person’s formal savings for retirement (or their ability to be financially independent), the lower their involvement in collectivist reciprocity. Reliance on these exchanges changes during the life course. Younger people rely on collective support for up to 21 percent of their income. As people age, collective support shrinks in importance relative to other sources of income reaching a low of 3 percent among the elderly. Unfortunately, only one-tenth of American seniors report receiving support from their network and those who do have increased levels of material security and wellbeing.

Probing the exchange behavior of the 10 percent of seniors who do receive help from their networks reveals the positive effects of interdependence on their retirement security. Compared to those who are not involved in collectivist networks, they are more financially secure and they have better health status, too. Seniors who do not rely on these networks have higher income from retirement pensions and other sources, indicating that those who do not expect to receive help from their collective network save more in anticipation of being on their own. Nonetheless, in the SIPP sample, total incomes are higher for those receiving collective help among the poorest elderly ($11,460 versus $7,496 for the lowest income quartile and $18,771 versus $17,521 for the second income quartile), while among the upper 50 percent, total income is higher among those not receiving help. In other words, collective support is a safety net that makes 50 percent of the elderly population better off than their peers who do not receive collective support and keeps them out of poverty.

For those approaching retirement who are between the ages of 50 and 61, Social Security is their most valuable asset, which highlights the crucial contribution Social Security makes in funding most American workers’ retirement. The next biggest component of pre-retirees’ savings, according to Richman and Saad-Lessler’s analysis of the SIPP data, is not formal savings, but rather, their informal, collective assets, which comprise 12-18 percent of total savings. Taking into account the value of Social Security assets, only 86 percent of pre-retirees without collective assets meet or exceed their savings target. However, that figure jumps to 94 percent for Americans with collective assets. In other words, collective assets help more Americans achieve their savings targets and afford their retirement years.

“The causes of our economic insecurity need urgently to be addressed and reversed. At the same time, policymakers and stakeholders should recognize the benefits of collectivism and adopt policies that reward collectivist practices,” Saad-Lessler said. “Such policies might offer income or Social Security credits to those who provide caregiving and housing support, for example. Our institutions need to shift away from policies that assume individual financial and material independence toward those that more realistically align with the informal collectivist practices of ordinary Americans.”

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Ken and Susan Meyer endow Notre Dame’s Business on the Frontlines initiative https://news.nd.edu/news/ken-and-susan-meyer-endow-notre-dames-business-on-the-frontlines-initiative/ news_128170 2020-08-12T10:00:00-0400 Dennis Brown The gift allows Mendoza to expand the program’s global and domestic reach and increase the number of MBA students who participate each year.

Ken and Susan Meyer endow Notre Dame’s Business on the Frontlines initiative

Dennis Brown

Since 2008, University of Notre Dame Master of Business Administration (MBA) students have collaborated with international humanitarian groups, multinational corporations and other organizations through the innovative Business on the Frontlines course to provide sustainable business solutions to today’s most pressing challenges.

Led by Viva Bartkus, associate professor of management at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, students and faculty have worked on more than 50 projects in 30 countries through a three-pronged approach that combines business practices, academia and faith. Students engage in rigorous cross-disciplinary study and data-driven problem-solving that they then apply to real-world issues.

Thanks to a $15 million gift from Ken and Susan Meyer that will name and endow this signature program, Mendoza will be able to expand the program’s global and domestic reach and increase the number of MBA students who participate each year.

“Ken and Susan have been longtime and extraordinarily generous supporters of Notre Dame in many ways,” Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president said. “We are deeply appreciative of a gift to enhance MBA courses that are among the most innovative in the country, and that reflect the mission of Notre Dame.”

Martijn Cremers, the Martin J. Gillen Dean of the Mendoza College of Business, added: “The Notre Dame MBA aims to educate business leaders who contribute to human flourishing by serving others, who cooperate with all stakeholders in solidarity, especially with those with the greatest needs, and who compete with excellence, both externally in the marketplace and internally toward the best version of themselves. The Meyer Business on the Frontlines Program is exemplary in how it integrates and delivers on all of these goals. I could not be more grateful to Ken Meyer for his friendship toward the University, and especially for this gift, which will transform the lives of our MBA students, Meyer Frontlines partners and everyone they serve for generations to come.”

Now in its 13th year, Business on the Frontlines sends students across the globe — from Colombia to Cambodia, Egypt to Ethiopia and Bosnia to Bolivia. Many of the projects have focused on agriculture, infrastructure and mining — economic sectors that in the wake of conflict often can absorb large numbers of unskilled workers. The students also have tackled issues such as unemployment, health and sanitation and human trafficking.

Through the Meyer Business on the Frontlines Program, Mendoza aims to offer this opportunity to about 100-plus MBA students annually, and improve the lives of thousands of people around the world.

“We are truly fortunate to have such incredible support from the Meyer family. For over a decade, through the Business on the Frontlines program, MBA students served partners on their toughest challenges in societies ravaged by conflict and deep poverty — thanks to the support of generous benefactors in the Notre Dame family,” Bartkus said. “This incredibly generous gift will ensure that even more students will continue on this journey of discovery as they put their business skills into action to serve vulnerable communities around the world and here in the U.S. for many years to come.”

A 1966 Notre Dame graduate, Meyer has played a pivotal role in helping the college attract world-class MBA applicants to Notre Dame. In 2010, he established the Kenneth R. Meyer Fellowships, creating an elite cohort of MBA students recruited each year from the top 3 percent of all MBA applicants worldwide. As the program embarks on its second decade, it has supported more than 70 MBA students.

“Our world order is particularly vulnerable right now, mid-year 2020,” Ken Meyer said. “The pandemic’s impact has been particularly harsh on the less fortunate among us worldwide. The Meyer Business on the Frontlines Program will provide our students an opportunity to confront these issues first hand, work directly with the people impacted, and provide practical, affordable business solutions. What a wonderful opportunity for all of us to actually improve less fortunate peoples’ lives!”

The Meyers’ previous philanthropy to Notre Dame includes the Kenneth R. Meyer Professor of Global Investment Management (a position currently held by former Mendoza Dean Roger Huang) and the Robert and Ardelle Meyer Scholarship, named in honor of his parents. Since the scholarship’s establishment in 1992, it has supported more than 74 undergraduate students.

Meyer retired as chairman and CEO of Lincoln Capital Management Company in 2004. He founded the firm’s fixed income management organization in 1981 and negotiated the sale of the company in June of 2004.  Previously, Meyer worked for the Harris Bank from 1968 to 1981. He managed the institutional fixed income business and was serving as senior vice president responsible for all institutional asset management by the time of his departure.

Meyer has served as the director of LINK Unlimited, a minority education program in Chicago and on the Finance Council of the Archdiocese of Chicago.  He is a director of the Homestead Mutual Fund Family as well as Golden Paws Assistance Dogs in Naples, Florida.  A member of the CFA Society of Chicago and a Chartered Financial Analyst, he was awarded the Hortense Freidman Award for lifetime achievement in the industry in 2006.

Meyer earned his MBA from the Wharton School of Finance in 1968 and has served as a key member of the Mendoza Business Advisory Council.

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Fifteen Notre Dame undergraduates named summer or fall Gilman Scholars https://news.nd.edu/news/fifteen-notre-dame-undergraduates-named-summer-or-fall-gilman-scholars/ news_128166 2020-08-12T09:00:00-0400 Erin Blasko Winners have until 2021 or later to use the award because of cancellations and restrictions related to the pandemic.

Fifteen Notre Dame undergraduates named summer or fall Gilman Scholars

Erin Blasko

Fifteen University of Notre Dame students have been awarded summer or fall Gilman Scholarships to study abroad, contributing to a University record 23 Gilman Scholars for the 2019-20 academic year.

An additional four Notre Dame students have been named summer or fall alternates for the award.

“The Flatley Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement (CUSE) is thrilled to see that more and more students are receiving Gilman Scholarships every year,” said Elise Rudt, national fellowships program coordinator with CUSE. “In addition to students' hard work, this increase is surely due to outreach efforts on behalf of the Office of Financial Aid and Notre Dame International, and we are grateful to all of our partners for helping students push toward this campus milestone.” 

The U.S. Department of State, which administers the Gilman program, typically announces summer and fall scholars separately, but combined the cohorts this year because of delays related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Summer recipients count toward the 2019-20 academic year; Fall recipients count toward the 2020-21 academic year.

The 23 recipients for the 2019-20 academic year breaks the previous record of 15 set during the 2018-19 academic year.

Winners have until 2021 or later to use the award because of cancellations and restrictions related to the pandemic. That includes recent graduates who were unable to participate in programs over the summer. Students who decline the scholarship will still be counted as winners.

Summer winners of the award are:

  • Oliver Aceves, Auburn, California — class of 2023, mechanical engineering major.
  • Emily Hunt, Hanover Park, Illinois — class of 2023, biological sciences major and accounting minor.
  • Rayyan Maqbool, New Orleans, Louisiana — class of 2021, psychology major and Hesburgh Program in Public Service and collaborative innovation double minor.
  • Colin McDonald, Tiffin, Iowa — class of 2023, computer science major.
  • Isabel Niforatos, Albuquerque, New Mexico — class of 2021, psychology major and English minor.
  • Abraham Ortiz Santibanez, Fullerton, California — class of 2023, mechanical engineering major.
  • Hristina Rivera, Clarendon Hills, Illinois — class of 2023, mechanical engineering major.
  • Patricia Salazar, Santa Ana, California — class of 2023, civil engineering major and energy studies minor.

Fall winners of the award are:

  • Abigail Abikoye, Bowie Maryland — class of 2022, biological science major and poverty studies and anthropology double minor.
  • Rachel Dinh, Tempe, Arizona (recipient but declined) — class of 2022, anthropology and pre-health double major and theology minor.
  • Giovanni Folkes, Brooklyn, New York — class of 2022, psychology major and innovation and entrepreneurship minor.
  • Hayleigh Rockenback, Tucson, Arizona — class of 2022, sociology major and Hesburgh Program in Public Service minor.
  • Wendy Ruan, Bellmore, New York — class of 2021, science pre-professional major and Chinese and Asian studies double minor.
  • Sebastian Sewera, Elk Grove Village, Illinois — class of 2022, science pre-professional major and history minor.
  • Jasmine Sindelar, Niles, Michigan — class of 2022, science-business major.

The Gilman Scholarship is a grant program that supports students of limited means to study or intern abroad. Students receive as much as $5,000 in financial support, plus as much as $3,000 for the study of a critical language, for qualifying programs.

For more information on this and other scholarship opportunities, visit cuse.nd.edu.

Contact: Erin Blasko, assistant director of media relations, 574-631-4127, eblasko@nd.edu

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New history of Notre Dame charts academic growth, consistency in mission https://news.nd.edu/news/new-history-of-notre-dame-charts-academic-growth-consistency-in-mission/ news_128145 2020-08-11T12:00:00-0400 Amanda Skofstad In new research, Rev. Thomas Blantz, C.S.C., Notre Dame professor emeritus of history, presents the story of America’s premier Catholic university from its inception as a French-founded boys’ school in 1842 to its status as an acclaimed undergraduate and international research institution of the 21st century.

New history of Notre Dame charts academic growth, consistency in mission

Amanda Skofstad

In new research, Rev. Thomas Blantz, C.S.C., Notre Dame professor emeritus of history, presents the story of America’s premier Catholic university from its inception as a French-founded boys’ school in 1842 to its status as an acclaimed undergraduate and international research institution of the 21st century.

Rev. Thomas Blantz, C.S.C.
Rev. Thomas Blantz, C.S.C.

Just released by Notre Dame Press, “The University of Notre Dame: A History,” traces the University’s path of progress challenged at times by wars, fires, financial shortfalls and even flu and cholera pandemics through detailed treatments of Notre Dame’s defining leaders and moments. Among those leaders are Rev. Edward Sorin, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s 28-year-old visionary founder; Rev. William Corby, C.S.C., Notre Dame president who gave absolution to soldiers at the Battle of Gettysburg; Knute Rockne, chemistry teacher and legendary football coach who elevated the Fighting Irish to national prominence; Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C., 35-year president and intrepid advocate for racial justice, human rights and international peace; and the 325 women who enrolled in 1972, creating Notre Dame’s first undergraduate coed class. 

Father Blantz taught a research seminar on the history of Notre Dame for 10 years and said he benefited greatly from original research students conducted, offering views that challenged his own and pointing him to new sources for further exploration.

Reflecting on what surprised him most about this research, Father Blantz said he had not fully considered how difficult founding a school must have been in the mid-19th century.

“One historian has noted that there were approximately 250 colleges in the United States in 1860, but probably another 700 had been founded but died, and in the 16 years between 1850 and 1866, 55 Catholic colleges were founded, but by 1866, 25 of those had been abandoned,” he said. “And yet those early priests, brothers and sisters were able to make a success of Notre Dame.”

The University of Notre Dame: A History

Father Blantz also emphasized that while Rev. John O'Hara, C.S.C., (later elevated to Cardinal by Pope John XXII) is remembered for his role as Prefect of Religion, he may be less known for his significant contributions to the academic development of Notre Dame as president. In particular, Cardinal O’Hara built up the graduate program and recruited several internationally known emigre scholars fleeing Nazi Germany.

What at Notre Dame has changed in 178 years, and what has remained the same? 

“Under the leadership of Father Hesburgh after World War II, Notre Dame became a true university with a strong graduate program and respected scholarly research that now enjoys international recognition,” Father Blantz said. “What has remained the same or constant in Notre Dame’s history, I think, has been its striving to retain its Catholic character and mission in a predominantly secular culture, and also its concern for the moral, spiritual and religious growth of its students, exemplified by the presence of priests, religious, and dedicated laymen and women living in the student residence halls.”

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Economists conclude opioid crisis responsible for millions of children living apart from parents https://news.nd.edu/news/economists-conclude-opioid-crisis-responsible-for-millions-of-children-living-apart-from-parents/ news_128143 2020-08-11T10:00:00-0400 Colleen Sharkey Affiliates with Notre Dame’s Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO) found that greater exposure to the opioid crisis increases the chance that a child’s mother or father is absent from the household and increases the likelihood that he or she lives in a household headed by a grandparent.

Economists conclude opioid crisis responsible for millions of children living apart from parents

Colleen Sharkey

Nearly 500,000 people in the U.S. during the past 20 years have died from an opioid overdose. Millions of others — many of them parents — are using, incarcerated or in drug rehabilitation programs. While the drug crisis has had profound impacts on adults, there has been relatively little research into its effects on the children of drug users. A recent study by University of Notre Dame economists Kasey Buckles, William Evans and Ethan Lieber is one of the first to examine these impacts.

In their study, released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the professors — all affiliated with Notre Dame’s Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO) — show that greater exposure to the opioid crisis increases the chance that a child’s mother or father is absent from the household and increases the likelihood that he or she lives in a household headed by a grandparent. The authors estimate that in 2015 1.5 million children (up to 16 years old) were living apart from at least one biological parent, 300,000 were living away from both parents and roughly half a million were living in a household headed by a grandparent as a result of the crisis.

“These are staggering numbers,” said Buckles, associate professor of economics. “We know that millions of adults have been affected by the crisis; our study shows that it is likely to have huge impacts on the next generation as well.”

The authors examined the changes in the living arrangements of children over time and across states using government data from the Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) section of the Current Population Survey (CPS), a nationally representative survey of about 60,000 households conducted each month. They paired that with estimates of children’s exposure to the crisis that are constructed from the Multiple Cause of Death Data, an annual census of death records in the U.S.

Cohorts that are more recent have much greater exposure to the crisis at every age. By age 16, those born in 1998 have experienced about three times more deaths among likely parents than those experienced by the 1978 birth cohort. States such as Ohio and West Virginia are epicenters of the drug crisis and the death rates of likely parents for 10-year-olds increased in these two states by 691 and 1,436 percent respectively between 1990 and 2015. The increase was more modest in states such as California and Illinois. 

The authors also document that the advertising practices of Purdue Pharma, makers of OxyContin (a drug at the center of the opioid crisis), were pivotal in fostering these devastating consequences. Documents released during the discovery process in court cases against Purdue Pharma note that the drug maker avoided advertising in states with triplicate prescription pads. These programs required prescribers to use a special, serialized pad to prescribe a Schedule II opioid such as OxyContin, with the prescriber, pharmacist and the state each retaining a copy. Triplicate pads allowed states to more easily monitor the prescribing practices of physicians. The pre-launch adverting plans for OxyContin noted that Purdue Pharma felt there was little market for OxyContin in triplicate states and hence, they did not plan to advertise as aggressively in those areas. Prior to the launch of OxyContin in 1996, triplicate states actually had higher drug death rates than non-triplicate states. After 1996, drug deaths increased much more dramatically in non-triplicate states where Purdue Pharma advertised OxyContin more aggressively. The authors’ research shows that a 16-year-old in a non-triplicate state after 2012 was exposed to a cumulative death rate of likely parents that was twice the rate of a 16-year-old in a triplicate state.

The long-term effects of family separation are, as previous studies have shown, psychologically devastating. Buckles, Evans and Lieber show that the economic consequences of the drug crisis are also significant for children. Their estimates suggest that, because of the drug crisis, almost 700,000 more children are living in poverty, 785,000 are participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“food stamps”) and 340,000 are without health insurance.

Specific effects for the nearly half a million children living in a household headed by a grandparent will depend on the extent to which grandparents are able to provide resources and support. Little research attention has been given to the causal impact of living with a grandparent on children’s well-being.

Drawing on these and other studies, the authors “conclude that the existing evidence suggests that there will likely be a great number of children whose outcomes are worsened by this crisis.”

 

Contact: Colleen Sharkey, assistant director of media relations, 574-999-0102, csharke2@nd.edu 

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99.7% of Notre Dame students tested COVID-free before returning to campus https://news.nd.edu/news/99-7-of-notre-dame-students-tested-covid-free-before-returning-to-campus/ news_128133 2020-08-10T17:00:00-0400 Paul Browne The University of Notre Dame, in concert with LabCorp, conducted nearly 12,000 pre-matriculation COVID-19 tests of students before the start of classes on campus today, with less than one-third of 1 percent testing positive.

99.7% of Notre Dame students tested COVID-free before returning to campus

Paul Browne

The University of Notre Dame, in concert with LabCorp, conducted nearly 12,000 pre-matriculation COVID-19 tests of students before the start of classes on campus today, with less than one-third of 1 percent testing positive.

The 11,836 included some 8,600 undergraduates, and other graduate and professional school students. Of the total, 33 students, or 0.28%, tested positive and cannot arrive on campus until they are cleared by medical professionals.

“I commend our students, their families, the University’s COVID Response Unit, University Health Services and our partner LabCorp in completing this formidable undertaking in a timely manner,” University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., said. “We wanted to make certain our students’ return did not represent a health threat to the South Bend community.”

In addition to the pre-matriculation screening, Notre Dame conducted a detailed analysis of counties across the nation from which students would be arriving to identify students coming from so-called hot spots who may warrant additional screening after they arrive on campus.

“As we begin the academic year, we will continue to make data-based decisions using the latest information in partnership with our local public health officials and in consultation with outside medical experts,” Marie Lynn Miranda, the Charles and Jill Fischer Provost of the University, said. “We will remain vigilant in our ongoing work to provide a healthy and safe environment for our students, faculty and staff members.”

The campus reopened after months of preparation that included the following:

  • Father Jenkins announced reopening plans on May 18, to give him and his team time to put together a robust plan.
  • Eliminated fall break and post-Thanksgiving return to campus in order to limit opportunities for re-infection.
  • Canceled study abroad programs.
  • While planning for in-person instruction, simultaneously created the capacity to provide remote learning should circumstances dictate.
  • Established a close working relationship with an interdisciplinary team at the Cleveland Clinic, as well as with county health officials and local hospitals.
  • Established protocols for testing, tracking, quarantining and isolation.
  • Tested all students before their arrival on campus (less than 0.28% were positive).
  • Established a high-capacity testing center on campus, accessible by car or on foot.
  • Encouraged remote work for employees who are not required on campus to do their jobs.
  • Encouraged managers to permit flexible work schedules where possible.
  •  Added 10 days of paid time off to existing benefits for employees who contract COVID-19, or whose family members do.
  • Expanded to 30 days, from 15, emergency child and elder backup care for all faculty and staff, adding graduate students to this benefit.
  • Optimized HVAC systems for prevention of COVID-19 transmission.
  • Acquired separate housing and online instruction for students who may have to be quarantined or isolated.
  • Established a customized computer application for all students, faculty and staff to report on their health daily.

Reopening by the numbers

The following are among the measures taken to make the campus as safe as possible:

  • 100,000 cloth masks were distributed to students, staff and faculty; three to each individual with a reserve supply.
  • 50,000+ health and safety signs and decals saturate campus, reminding all to wear masks, keep safely distanced from each other, frequently wash hands, and engage in other health and safety practices.
  • 14,000 surface-cleaner bottles were deployed on campus.
  • 12,000 pre-matriculation tests were conducted.
  • 12,000 “Welcome Back” kits for all students include masks, hand sanitizers and thermometers.
  • 10,000 gallons of hand sanitizer are in stock.
  • 3,000 hand sanitizer stations have been installed on campus.
  • 958 electric hand dryers were disabled and replaced with paper towel dispensers.
  • 370 light pole banners were hung with health/safety messages.
  • 207 paper towel dispensers were added.
  • 50 “ambassadors” are on duty to remind people to wear masks and maintain safe distancing.
  • 27 campus ballrooms, auditoriums and other large event spaces were repurposed to accommodate physical distancing for high-enrollment classes.
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Artificial intelligence could improve accuracy, efficiency of CT screening for COVID-19 diagnosis https://news.nd.edu/news/artificial-intelligence-could-improve-accuracy-efficiency-of-ct-screening-for-covid-19-diagnosis/ news_128120 2020-08-10T12:00:00-0400 Nina Welding Researchers at the University of Notre Dame are developing a new technique using artificial intelligence (AI) that would improve CT screening to more quickly identify patients with the coronavirus.

Artificial intelligence could improve accuracy, efficiency of CT screening for COVID-19 diagnosis

Nina Welding

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame are developing a new technique using artificial intelligence (AI) that would improve CT screening to more quickly identify patients with the coronavirus. The new technique will reduce the burden on the radiologists tasked with screening each image.

Testing challenges have led to an influx of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 requiring CT scans which have revealed visual signs of the disease, including ground glass opacities, a condition that consists of abnormal lesions, presenting as a haziness on images of the lungs.

Yiyu Shi. Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame.
Yiyu Shi

“Most patients with coronavirus show signs of COVID-related pneumonia on a chest CT but with the large number of suspected cases, radiologists are working overtime to screen them all,” said Yiyu Shi, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Notre Dame and the lead researcher on the project. “We have shown that we can use deep learning — a field of AI — to identify those signs, drastically speeding up the screening process and reducing the burden on radiologists.” 

Shi is working with Jingtong Hu, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh, to identify the visual features of COVID-19-related pneumonia through analysis of 3D data from CT scans. The team is working to combine the analysis software with off-the-shelf hardware for a light-weight mobile device that can be easily and immediately integrated in clinics around the country. The challenge, Shi said, is that 3D CT scans are so large, it’s nearly impossible to detect specific features and extract them efficiently and accurately on plug-and-play mobile devices.

“We’re developing a novel method inspired by Independent Component Analysis, using a statistical architecture to break each image into smaller segments,” Shi said, “which will allow deep neural networks to target COVID-related features within large 3D images.”

Shi and Hu are collaborating with radiologists at Guangdong Provincial People’s Hospital in China and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where a large number of CT images from COVID-19 pneumonia are being made available. The team hopes to have development completed by the end of the year.

The research is being funded by the National Science Foundation through a Rapid Response Research (RAPID) grant. 

 

Contact: Jessica Sieff, assistant director of media relations, 574-631-3933, jsieff@nd.edu

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Center for Civic Innovation coordinates remote assistance for low-income taxpayers amid coronavirus https://news.nd.edu/news/center-for-civic-innovation-coordinates-remote-assistance-for-low-income-taxpayers-amid-coronavirus/ news_128118 2020-08-10T11:45:00-0400 Erin Blasko The Center for Civic Innovation (CCI) coordinated assistance for 53 taxpayers via the videoconferencing app Zoom and referred another 100 taxpayers to Goodwill for assistance, representing those without access to Zoom or otherwise uncomfortable with the app.

Center for Civic Innovation coordinates remote assistance for low-income taxpayers amid coronavirus

Erin Blasko

The University of Notre Dame partnered with the United Way of St. Joseph County and Goodwill Industries of Michiana to provide remote tax assistance to low-income individuals and households in the South Bend area while other local tax assistance programs were suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

With support from the Mendoza College of Business, Notre Dame Law School Tax Clinic, Notre Dame Research (NDR) and Office of Information Technologies (OIT), the Center for Civic Innovation (CCI) coordinated assistance for 53 taxpayers via the videoconferencing app Zoom and referred another 100 taxpayers to Goodwill for assistance, representing those without access to Zoom or otherwise uncomfortable with the app.

An additional 360 taxpayers declined remote assistance or did not respond to the offer.

All represented taxpayers whose appointments for assistance with the United Way were cancelled because of the coronavirus, which led to lockdowns and other restrictions throughout the spring.

“Overall I think it was highly successful,” said Alisa Zornig Gura, managing director of CCI.

A total of 10 faculty and staff assisted with the effort, including Jay Brockman, director of CCI and professor of the practice in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Patrick Thomas, associate clinical professor of law and director of the Tax Clinic, and Ken Milani, professor of accountancy in the Mendoza College of Business. 

Thomas and Milani led the Zoom sessions along with Marty Wolfson, professor emeritus of economics at Notre Dame, and a small group of community volunteers, all certified tax preparers.

Laura Kresnak, with the Center for Research Computing, Austin Stewart, with the Notre Dame Turbomachinery Laboratory, and Janet Kenyon, with NDR, worked the phones. Bryan Tanner, director of community investment and public policy for the United Way, and Thomas, Milani, Brockman and Zornig Gura were part of the planning and logistics team. Denise Hock, with OIT, Jen Eggleston, with CCI, Mary Jo Anderson, with the Tax Clinic, along with Thomas and Zornig Gura, were part of the process implementation team.

“It was a learning opportunity for everyone involved,” said Thomas. “Not only us, but the taxpayers too.”

Tanner, with the United Way, said, “The University of Notre Dame team, and their thoughtful approach to aiding low-income and predominantly elderly clients, allowed critical services to be provided during a great time of need.” 

Normally, low-income taxpayers have several options for assistance in St. Joseph County.

The United Way operates the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, an IRS program that provides free assistance to taxpayers who earn $66,000 per year or less, as well as the disabled and limited English-speaking taxpayers. Mendoza, through the Vivian Harrington Gray Notre Dame-Saint Mary’s Tax Assistance Program, offers in-person tax assistance to low- and medium-income individuals and senior citizens in partnership with the St. Joseph County Public Library. The Tax Clinic represents low-income and non-English speaking taxpayers in disputes with the IRS.

Based on this experience, CCI is considering coordinating the same or similar assistance in the future, Zornig Gura said, in the case of this or another public health emergency or for homebound taxpayers.

“I think it would continue to be a good option for those folks who are comfortable with it,” said Thomas. “And we could probably even improve on what we did this time around.”

Part of the College of Engineering, CCI seeks innovative solutions to pressing civic needs, primarily in the South Bend-Elkhart area. Notably, the center manages an internship program for high school and college students based on a community-engaged educational ecosystem model comprised of educational institutions, local government and community organizations.

For more information, visit civicinnovation.nd.edu.

Contact: Erin Blasko, assistant director of media relations, 574-631-4127, eblasko@nd.edu

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Notre Dame faculty receive National Science Foundation awards https://news.nd.edu/news/notre-dame-faculty-receive-highly-competitive-nsf-early-career-awards/ news_128063 2020-08-06T15:25:00-0400 Brandi Klingerman Nine University of Notre Dame faculty members received prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Early Career Development (CAREER) Awards in 2020.

Notre Dame faculty receive National Science Foundation awards

Brandi Klingerman

Nine University of Notre Dame faculty members received National Science Foundation (NSF) Early Career Development (CAREER) Awards in 2020. Since 2014, Notre Dame faculty have earned 49 of these nationally competitive awards.

“The University is very pleased that so many of our newly hired faculty have earned these prestigious early career awards,” said Robert J. Bernhard, vice president for research and professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering at Notre Dame. “This success reflects both the talent our departments, schools and colleges are able to recruit, as well as the research resources they have available to support their creative ideas.” 

The CAREER award recipients, who come from the Colleges of Arts and Letters, Engineering and Science, as well as the Keough School of Global Affairs, are as follows:

Additionally, Edward Kinzel, associate professor in the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, received his award while at Missouri University of Science and Technology for “Large-scale manufacturing of metasurfaces using microsphere photolithography." Kinzel joined the University in 2019.

The CAREER award program, established by the NSF in 1995, recognizes and supports outstanding early career faculty who exhibit a commitment to stimulating research while also providing educational opportunities for students. To learn about the University’s previous CAREER awardees, visit https://research.nd.edu/our-services/funding-opportunities/faculty/early-career-programs/nsf---career-award/.

Contact: Brandi R. Wampler, brandiwampler@nd.edu, 574.631.8183

Originally published by Brandi Klingerman at research.nd.edu on August 06, 2020.

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Consumers find third-party use of personal location data privacy violations, study shows https://news.nd.edu/news/consumers-find-third-party-use-of-personal-location-data-privacy-violations-study-shows/ news_128068 2020-08-06T14:00:00-0400 Shannon Roddel New research from the University of Notre Dame showed that people are nuanced about how their location is tracked.

Consumers find third-party use of personal location data privacy violations, study shows

Shannon Roddel

The National Security Agency issued a warning to its employees Aug. 4 that cellphone location data could pose a national security risk.

The data, which is collected and sold for advertising and marketing purposes, “can reveal details about the number of users in a location, user and supply movements, daily routines and can expose otherwise unknown associations between users and locations,” according to the warning.

But how do consumers feel about their location data being tracked and sold? New research from the University of Notre Dame yielded surprising results.

Kirsten Martin
Kirsten Martin

What is it about location?” published in the July issue of the Berkeley Technology Law Journal by Kirsten Martin, the William P. and Hazel B. White Center Professor of Technology Ethics at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, and Helen Nissenbaum from Cornell Tech, showed that people are nuanced about how their location is tracked. They don’t appreciate it if, say, their location data is used to identify if they are voting or attending a protest, but approve if location data is used by a family member to figure out if they are home. Also, overwhelmingly, people are not comfortable with third-party location data brokers, or data aggregators, collecting for any reason.

It’s common knowledge that tech companies mine users’ personal information. Apps often collect and share location data with aggregators, who then sell it to corporate and government customers. Privacy issues involving TikTok, Facebook and others have repeatedly been documented in national news stories. Martin said, in her study, respondents were OK with some aspects of location data collection, and not OK with others.

“They didn’t seem to mind as much if employers collecting their data could identify if they were at work, but they did mind if their employer figured out they frequented a liquor store or attended a protest,” said Martin, a nationally recognized expert in privacy, technology and corporate responsibility at Notre Dame’s Technology Ethics Center. “However, they did not like data aggregators collecting their data. They consistently rated the collection of location data by aggregators for any reason as not OK — and by a large margin.”   

In the study, the duration of the collection of data did not matter to respondents once it was explained what the collector would know about them as a result. Respondents initially were concerned about the length of time location data was being gathered but stopped caring once it was explained the collector would know they went shopping or to a restaurant with friends.   

“Two things stood out,” Martin said. “Respondents clearly differentiated the collection of location data to track if they voted or attended a rally as different from locating them at, say, a restaurant or store. They definitely were not OK with location data being used to locate them voting or protesting. And this study was run two years ago before today’s major protests, so I would imagine it would be vastly more pronounced if conducted today.  

“Also, just including the place where the person would be located — at a restaurant, mall, school or work — was enough to skew the rating as less OK. In other words, asking respondents just about collecting location data without explaining what you want to know about them is meaningless. Where they were located and what the company could infer about them — who their friends were or if they attended a rally — were much more important.”

Interestingly, the study showed that regardless of whether or not people were comfortable with the data being collected, it never really mattered to them what type of technology was used to collect it.

“Collection technologies we used in our study included phone, mapping app, license-plate reader, Fitbit, CCTV and social media posts,” Martin said. “The impact was minimal or nonexistent when we varied the technology. This is important because we often focus on techniques to collect location data. For example, collecting from a Fitbit might be OK but not from a phone. Respondents do not see any difference in their expectation of privacy across types of technology. So if users say they don't want location data gathered from their phone, getting location from their Bluetooth signal, an app or social media posts is problematic overall. They don’t want you to have it no matter what source is used.”  

Take TikTok’s recent media scrutiny, for example. Martin said its tactics are no different from standard social media data collection practices and that banning or selling that company would do nothing to diminish the privacy violations occurring on people’s smartphones every day.

The study asked a national sample of people to rate a vignette as to the degree that a particular type of collection was acceptable. It included varied specifics about who collected the data — family, data aggregator, employer, FBI, online company, etc. — and what the collector could learn about the individual as a result.

“This information is important for regulators in protecting location data, as well as the companies collecting the data,” Martin said. “For regulators, respondents did not care about technology, yet we tend to regulate by a type of collecting technology or ask for consent for only one type of technology. This would suggest that individuals do not think that way and assume location data is generally protected if they have requested it for one type.

“Perhaps most importantly, data aggregators who collect location data should be worried if individuals ever get any say as to the collection of their data. Consumers clearly do not trust them,” Martin said.

 

Contact: Kirsten Martin, 574-631-6072, kmarti33@nd.edu

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