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 2021-01-27T10:35:22+0000 In memoriam: Joseph O’Brien, retired human resources, athletics administrator https://news.nd.edu/news/in-memoriam-joseph-obrien-retired-human-resources-athletics-administrator/ news_134692 2021-01-26T14:00:00-0500 Dennis Brown Joseph F. O’Brien, a longtime leader in human resources and athletics at the University of Notre Dame, died Saturday (Jan. 23) at his home. He was 95.

In memoriam: Joseph O’Brien, retired human resources, athletics administrator

Dennis Brown

Joseph F. O’Brien, a longtime leader in human resources and athletics at the University of Notre Dame, died Saturday (Jan. 23) at his home. He was 95.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, O’Brien attended Cornell University, where he was a member of the basketball team, but left early to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II as a gun captain on the aircraft carrier USS Midway. After the war, he resumed his studies at Notre Dame, graduating in 1949.

O’Brien worked in personnel positions at Oliver Chilled Plow Works and Whirlpool Corp. before returning to his alma mater in 1958 as director of personnel, overseeing staff policies, procedures and benefits packages. He joined the Department of Athletics in 1976, serving as an associate athletic director handling budgets, transportation and ticketing. He retired in 1993.

O’Brien held numerous leadership positions within his profession, including service as president of the Michiana Personnel Association, College and University Personnel Association and College Athletic Business Management Association. He was honored by the latter two with man of the year awards, and at Notre Dame he was recognized by the Alumni Association with the James E. Armstrong Award and by the Notre Dame Club of Chicago with the Moose Krause Award. He also was a recipient of Notre Dame’s President’s Award, given to faculty and staff who have provided many years of distinguished service.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 67 years, Betty, and is survived by a daughter, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday (Jan. 27) at Notre Dame’s Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

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Elizabeth M. Renieris appointed founding director of the Notre Dame-IBM Tech Ethics Lab https://news.nd.edu/news/elizabeth-m-renieris-appointed-founding-director-of-the-notre-dame-ibm-tech-ethics-lab/ news_134687 2021-01-26T13:00:00-0500 Notre Dame News Elizabeth M. Renieris, currently a technology and human rights fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a practitioner fellow at Stanford University’s Digital Civil Society Lab, has been appointed founding director of the Notre Dame-IBM Technology Ethics Lab at the University of Notre Dame.

Elizabeth M. Renieris appointed founding director of the Notre Dame-IBM Tech Ethics Lab

Notre Dame News
Elizabeth Renieris
Elizabeth Renieris

Elizabeth M. Renieris, a technology and human rights fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a practitioner fellow at Stanford University’s Digital Civil Society Lab, has been appointed founding director of the Notre Dame-IBM Technology Ethics Lab at the University of Notre Dame.

Launched in 2020, the Notre Dame-IBM Tech Ethics Lab aims to address ethical questions associated with the development and use of emerging technologies such as AI and machine learning. The lab serves as the applied research arm of Notre Dame’s Technology Ethics Center (ND-TEC), which develops and supports multi- and interdisciplinary research on questions related to the impact of technology on humanity.

“We are thrilled to have Elizabeth join our University as founding director of the Technology Ethics Lab,” said Mark McKenna, the John P. Murphy Foundation Professor of Law at Notre Dame and director of ND-TEC. “The lab is a critical component of our vision for technology ethics at Notre Dame — the primary vehicle through which we hope to engage industry, policymakers and other thought leaders in the technology ethics space, and to have real, practical effect. To be the kind of force for good that we want to be, we needed the right leader. Elizabeth’s experience and vision for the lab made her the ideal person to lead this ambitious project.”

Renieris is an internationally recognized expert in law and policy whose work and research focus on data governance and the human rights implications of advanced and emerging technologies. She is a leading authority on digital identity, cross-border data protection and privacy laws, and technologies such as blockchain and AI.

As the founder and CEO of Hacklawyer, a consultancy focused on law and policy engineering, Renieris has worked on three continents and has advised the World Bank, the U.K. Parliament, the European Commission and a variety of international organizations and NGOs. She is also working on a book about the future of data governance through MIT Press.

“This is certainly not an easy time to think about technology ethics, but it is an important one, which is why I’ve decided to join the faculty at Notre Dame as lab director,” Renieris said. “Under my stewardship, the lab will focus on applied, relational ethics and aim to steer technological design and development in the direction of more equity and justice. I’m grateful to IBM for their partnership and look forward to working with IBM and others on advancing research that generates best practices in technology and AI ethics that ultimately shape industry and public policy.”

“We at IBM are pleased to welcome Elizabeth Renieris as the director of the Notre Dame-IBM Tech Ethics Lab,” said Christina Montgomery, chief privacy officer for IBM. “We believe firmly that being a responsible steward of technology means applying an ethical approach to developing and deploying new technology. That’s why IBM was proud to partner with Notre Dame to create a first-of-its-kind research initiative focused on technology and AI ethics. IBM is committed to nurturing industry standards that build trust in responsible technology by ensuring that technology innovations put people first and broadly benefit society. Elizabeth’s expertise at the intersection of emerging technologies and human rights provide her with a uniquely qualified perspective, and I look forward to working with her.”

Renieris holds a master of laws from the London School of Economics and a law degree from Vanderbilt University. She is also a graduate of Harvard College.

Follow the Notre Dame-IBM Tech Ethics Lab via Twitter @techethicslab.

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A new secular left is emerging and could present challenges for Biden administration https://news.nd.edu/news/a-new-secular-left-is-emerging-and-could-present-challenges-for-biden-administration/ news_134682 2021-01-26T12:00:00-0500 Colleen Sharkey The challenge for President Joe Biden’s administration is finding ways to emphasize the common values of religious and secular voters, Notre Dame researchers said. 

A new secular left is emerging and could present challenges for Biden administration

Colleen Sharkey

The United States is experiencing a secular surge. The largest “religious” group in the country is people with no religious affiliation — a stunning change, given that the U.S. has historically been a highly religious nation.

New research by David Campbell, the Packey J. Dee Professor of American Democracy at the University of Notre Dame, and Geoffrey Layman, professor of political science, shows a lot of diversity among this growing secular population. Many people without a religion still believe in God, for example. However, a growing share of the population are secularists who see the world through the lens of secular rationalism and humanism. And they are often politically active — most often within the Democratic Party.

Secularism, the professors wrote in their recent book “Secular Surge: A New Fault Line in American Politics,” is “important for citizens’ political attitudes, attachments and decisions, because it encompasses commitment to a set of distinctive beliefs and a sense of social identity.” Among Democrats, this emerging secular left co-exists with another wing of the party that is highly religious, composed largely of African Americans and Latinos. As the Democrats begin governing in both the White House and Congress, they will have to find ways for the secular and religious wings of the party to work together.

The rise of the secular left parallels the emergence of the religious right a generation ago, the professors wrote. In the early days of the religious right, the Republican Party had to find ways for this new group of activists to work with longstanding members of the party. Today, the religious right is the base of the Republican Party. Only time will tell if the secular left will be as fully incorporated into the Democratic Party.

Perhaps ironically, Campbell and Layman’s research finds that the secular left has arisen as a backlash to the religious right. In “Secular Surge,” co-authored with John C. Green of the University of Akron, they show a wide variety of evidence that many Americans have an “allergic reaction” to the mixture of religion and conservative politics. One symptom of this allergy is that many Democrats drop their religious affiliation — if being religious means being Republican, they would rather not be considered religious. Thus, the more prominent the religious right, the more backlash it causes, and the more the secular population grows. In fact, Campbell and Layman speculate that the religious imagery on display during the Jan. 6 insurrection may lead still more Americans to drop their religious affiliation.

The rising tide of secularism in the U.S. means that some voters are on opposite sides of a religious-secular fault line, thus fanning the flames of political polarization. As Campbell and Layman wrote, “a secular-religious divide in politics also may illuminate why, above and beyond their ideological differences, ordinary Democrats and Republicans increasingly dislike and distrust the leaders and members of the other political camp — what political scientists have labeled ‘affective polarization.’ Their very different worldviews may spur Secularists and Religionists to view each other with suspicion and perhaps even hostility, thus encouraging animosity and distrust between their political teams.”

However, Campbell and Layman suggest that the nation’s secular surge need not result in more polarization, as there is more common ground between secular and religious voters than meets the eye. “One of the takeaways of our book is that secular voters are values voters. The recent runoffs in Georgia perfectly demonstrate this,” Layman said. “Shared values are the grounds on which Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff meet. They come to the same conclusions from different starting points.”

The challenge for President Joe Biden’s administration is finding ways to emphasize the common values of religious and secular voters, Campbell and Layman said. As the different wings of the party start the hard work of governing, this will not be easy.

Yet this is not only a challenge for Democrats. The growing secular population means that the Republicans ignore them at their peril. While most secularists lean left, there are also secular conservatives, who tend to be Libertarians, and still others who are open to supporting either party. Campbell and Layman point out that if Republicans were to reach out to secular voters, it would help to lower the boil on political polarization.

Is it possible that secular voters could end up as a swing vote? History suggests it could happen, the professors argue. After all, there was once a time when churchgoers were evenly split between the parties. If that was true for churchgoers in the past, why not secular voters in the future?

At the moment, though, secular voters are more likely to be found on the political left. For the Democrats, the question is whether they can make room for the emerging secular left, and thus harness the political potential of the U.S.’s secular surge.

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

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Marketing has major benefits for entrepreneurs in emerging markets, study shows https://news.nd.edu/news/marketing-has-major-benefits-for-entrepreneurs-in-emerging-markets-study-shows/ news_134677 2021-01-26T10:45:00-0500 Shannon Roddel New research from Notre Dame shows marketers can help entrepreneurs in emerging markets grow their businesses, which in turn helps them to improve lives, sustain livelihoods, enhance overall living standards and strengthen societies.

Marketing has major benefits for entrepreneurs in emerging markets, study shows

Shannon Roddel

Can marketers help improve the world?

Their field may not be top of mind among those that contribute to the greater good, yet new research from the University of Notre Dame shows marketers can help entrepreneurs in emerging markets grow their businesses, which in turn helps them to improve lives, sustain livelihoods, enhance overall living standards and strengthen societies.

Do Marketers Matter for Entrepreneurs? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Uganda” is forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing from Frank Germann, an associate professor of marketing at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business who teaches core marketing courses in the Notre Dame MBA program.

Frank Germann
Frank Germann

Germann, along with Stephen Anderson from the University of Texas at Austin, Pradeep Chintagunta from the University of Chicago and Naufel Vilcassim from the London School of Economics, conducted a randomized, controlled field experiment with 930 Ugandan businesses that were aided by international business support volunteers including marketers from more than 60 countries.

“Volunteer marketers helped entrepreneurs grow sales, profits, assets and employees,” Germann said. “Specifically, compared to control firms, the supported entrepreneurs grew monthly sales by 52 percent on average, while their monthly profits improved by 36 percent, total assets rose by 31 percent and the number of paid employees increased by 24 percent.”

Entrepreneurs are ubiquitous in emerging markets. In 2010, more than 31 percent of the adult population in Uganda was either starting a business or running a business less than four years old. “However,” Germann pointed out, “many emerging market entrepreneurs struggle to make ends meet, and their firms’ growth rates are low, stifling the positive impact they could have on society.”

Prior studies have shown the low growth rates appear to result from most businesses being too similar and failing to attract customer interest. “Marketing helps firms to differentiate by focusing on the question, ‘Why should the customer buy from the firm and not elsewhere?’” Germann said.

“A bake shop owner in our marketer treatment group began selling high-quality doughnuts to a local supermarket,” he said. “She placed a display unit in the market, which helped differentiate her firm as a quality bake shop and attracted additional business opportunities. Also, a beauty salon owner in the sample trained herself to offer new and sought-after hairstyles. She now also sells and applies hair extensions in various colors and styles, allowing her to stand out from competitors offering only basic services.”

An analysis of interactions between volunteers and entrepreneurs revealed that the marketers spent more time on product-related topics than other volunteers and helped put the focus on premium products to differentiate businesses in the marketplace. Firms with greater market knowledge or resource availability benefited significantly more than their peers when matched with volunteer marketers.

Small-scale businesses form the commercial backbone of most emerging markets, so their performance and development are critically important,” Germann added. “Research indicates entrepreneurship is one of the most effective means to alleviate poverty in developing countries.”

The team hopes its study will motivate marketing practitioners to work with entrepreneurs and early-stage ventures in emerging markets and encourage business schools to incorporate versions of their “remote coaching” intervention into emerging market programs, with a focus on matching entrepreneurs with their marketing students.

Germann says organizations actively serving emerging markets should also benefit from their findings when designing and implementing future business support services delivered in emerging markets.

 

Contact: Frank Germann, 574-631-4858, fgermann@nd.edu

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Snite Museum of Art acquires work by Magnum photographer Alex Majoli https://news.nd.edu/news/the-snite-museum-of-art-acquires-a-work-by-magnum-photographer-alex-majoli-from-the-eye-of-the-storm-series/ news_134654 2021-01-25T15:00:00-0500 Gina Costa Created in Novara, Italy, in April 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, the image, "Scene #2756, Novara, Italy, 2020," captures the moment when a priest blesses coffins that have just arrived at the cemetery by Italian Army trucks from nearby Bergamo.

Snite Museum of Art acquires work by Magnum photographer Alex Majoli

Gina Costa

The Snite Museum of Art at the University of Notre Dame has added a photograph by Magnum photographer Alex Majoli from his "The Eye of the Storm" series. Created in Novara, Italy, in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, "Scene #2756, Novara, Italy, 2020" captures the moment when a priest blesses coffins that have just arrived at the cemetery by Italian Army trucks from nearby Bergamo. Created in April amid Italy's early outbreak, this image brings into sharp focus the painful and tragic extent of northern Italy's suffering during the first outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Italy’s death toll was the highest in Europe during the first months of the outbreak, and the country could barely keep up with the transportation of coffins for burial.

The photograph was an acquisition proposed by the museum’s PhotoFutures: Collecting Art for Notre Dame, a student seminar led by the curator of education, academic programs and the curator of photographs. Designed for students of any major, this co-curricular program addresses issues related to museum collecting, contemporary photography and socially engaged artistic practice. Students critique individual photographs and evaluate artists' portfolios while engaging in critical discussions with the artists, museum curators and select faculty. This fall, students had the unique challenge of acquiring a photograph that addresses our current historical moment.

They state: "This photograph includes many of the hallmark elements of daily life under the conditions of the pandemic. The priest stands alone in a mask, even distanced from the coffins which contain the COVID-19 victims. The haunting loneliness of the piece and the solitary figure relate to the context of lockdowns and quarantine periods, which altered normal everyday activities and transformed bustling public places and city streets into ghost towns overnight. The artist’s choice of black and white adds to the melancholy tone while also eliminating any sense of the time of day, which recalls the disorientation of life under lockdown. ...

"[Majoli’s photograph] brings to mind our shared humanity in contrast with the mechanized and dehumanized process of handling the high volume of COVID-19 victims. The presence of religion also evokes a theme of grief and the ways in which human beings find comfort when confronted with loss. Although the conditions of the pandemic precluded funerals and religious services from taking place, the priest preserves some measure of human dignity, even in death, through his act of blessing these coffins."

Majoli is a photographer whose dramatic black-and-white photographs focus on the human condition and the narratives of our daily lives. Known for documenting conflicts worldwide, he has covered the fall of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq. He has contributed to Newsweek, The New York Times Magazine, Granta and National Geographic, among other publications. Majoli is the recipient of many awards, including the Guggenheim Fellowship (2015), the Eugene Smith Grant (2017), the Getty Images Grant for Editorial Photography (2009) and the Infinity Award for Photojournalism (2003). A member of Magnum Photos since 2001, he splits his time between New York and Sicily. 

Originally published by Gina Costa at sniteartmuseum.nd.edu on Jan. 25.

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Notre Dame, others join to fight rising local hunger https://news.nd.edu/news/notre-dame-others-join-to-fight-rising-local-hunger/ news_134653 2021-01-25T13:00:00-0500 Erin Blasko The Health Improvement Alliance of St. Joseph County, in partnership with Cultivate, established the Emergency Food Initiative in March as a way to support food security in South Bend and the surrounding area and negotiate the complexity of that task during the pandemic.

Notre Dame, others join to fight rising local hunger

Erin Blasko

Attention around the coronavirus has focused primarily on case numbers and deaths since the start of the pandemic, as officials at the local, state and federal levels race to control the virus and conserve medical resources until vaccines and treatments are more widely available.

Behind the scenes, however, a coalition of local public, private and nonprofit organizations, including Cultivate Food Rescue, the Food Bank of Northern Indiana, the city of South Bend and South Bend Venues Parks and Arts, the South Bend Community School Corp., the United Way of St. Joseph County, enFocus and the University of Notre Dame, has been working to address a less obvious, but no less urgent consequence of the pandemic: growing hunger in the community.

According to Feeding America, a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks, 50.4 million Americans experienced food insecurity at some point in 2020, a consequence of economic disruptions and related job losses tied to the pandemic. That’s an increase of 13.2 million Americans compared with 2018, including 5.8 million children. 

In response, the Health Improvement Alliance of St. Joseph County, in partnership with Cultivate, established the Emergency Food Initiative in March as a way to support food security in South Bend and the surrounding area and negotiate the complexity of that task during the pandemic. The group is on Facebook at facebook.com/EFIStJoeCounty.

The group started with the goal of stockpiling 45,000 meals in the case of a catastrophic food emergency. It has since moved on to other tasks, including improved communication and cooperation among local food security organizations and better planning and logistics.

“There have been movements in this direction for a long time; we know none of us exist in a bubble here,” said Jim Baxter, coordinator of the Health Improvement Alliance. “But I think it was the opportunity to coalesce around the need as elevated by the pandemic that got this group together.”

The group, which also includes Real Services, St. Vincent de Paul, J2 Marketing, the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County and the South Bend Regional Chamber, meets once per week to share updates and discuss planning and logistics.

“It’s an opportunity for us to update each other on what we’re doing, offer help to others who need it and communicate where we can partner to reduce overlap, streamline communications and be as effective and efficient as possible with our outreach,” said Lainie Holland, project coordinator with Cultivate, which provides meals to schoolchildren and helps coordinate food to pantries in the tri-county area with support from Notre Dame and other public, private and nonprofit partners.

Through years of experience in the local food security community, members bring critical knowledge to the group, both about the landscape here and hunger more generally.

“You can have a question and somebody in the group will either give you the answer or find that answer,” said Sue Zumbrun, with Clay Church Food Pantry in South Bend. “It’s incredible. You don’t have to make a million phone calls to connect with someone who’s already very busy.”

Through conversations with group members, Zumbrun learned about a free source of bread, saving Clay $1 to $2 per loaf. Cultivate routinely lends its truck and driver to members to help with food deliveries and pickups. Members share storage space.

Early on, the group developed an inventory tracking system to provide organizations and individuals that fund and supply local food pantries with ongoing information about the status of different food items, changes in demand for items and impact on demand from various federal programs.

Danielle Wood, with the Notre Dame Center for Civic Innovation, and Mat Sisk, with Notre Dame’s Navari Family Center for Digital Scholarship, developed the system with leadership from Zumbrun, a member of the United Way’s People Gotta Eat coalition.

More than 22 pantries were invited to share data weekly about availability of different food groups to a collective dashboard. This has helped funders and suppliers, including Cultivate, Purdue Extension and the United Way, determine and track need and respond accordingly.

“This has been a difficult time for the pantries, with a lot of demand on their resources at the same time they were losing some of their volunteers,” said Wood. “By getting the pantry manager’s perspective — an expert like Sue — we tried to design something that was minimally demanding to fill out.”

EnFocus, a local innovation organization supported by Notre Dame, is working to merge some of the data from the inventory tracking system into a searchable food pantry map so that it is more accessible to pantry workers and the public, including pantry users and local neighbors who wish to donate to pantries.

“It’s been a huge benefit,” Zumbrun said of the tracking system, praising the ability to track supply and demand for food across the community in close to real time.

Beyond planning and logistics, the group serves as a support network for members, for whom the pandemic has led to unprecedented levels of work-related stress, anxiety, exhaustion and even trauma.

“So much of the initiative is weekly conversations about what is needed,” said Maxx Hamm, an enFocus fellow. “But a lot of it is the emotional and tangible support we’ve been providing to each other, because there’s so much increased need and tension in the community in general.”

Recalled Zumbrun, “I think I even broke down in a meeting one day because it’s just so hard not being able to help as much as you want to. It’s hard work because you’re dealing with people’s lives and stories.

“It is helpful to have that outlet,” Zumbrun continued. “I have to be strong for my volunteers, so it’s nice to be with other leaders and be vulnerable sometimes.”

According to Feeding America, the current crisis is expected to last well beyond the pandemic, as the economy struggles to restart after months of recurring pauses and lockdowns.

“We plan to go beyond the pandemic to reduce food insecurity in our community,” said Jim Conklin, board president of Cultivate. “The economic consequences from the pandemic will last well beyond the current crisis of the pandemic, and we hope to continue to collaborate and have a unified approach to help community members in need.”

In the meantime, the group hopes to address the causes and consequences of hunger and other problems through improved access to existing services and resources and improved communication and cooperation among local nonprofits.

“We’re focused primarily on the food issue, but while doing that we’re encountering so many other needs,” said Holland, from renters battling eviction, to job seekers stuck without transportation, to parents desperate for reliable childcare. “We refer people to United Way’s 211 number where community members can get information on how to get help on all of these items.”

Zumbrun, for her part, noticed while putting food into people’s cars that children were not always properly seated in the back. She talked to Baxter, the Health Improvement Alliance coordinator, who told her about an organization that offers free car seats and car seat safety classes. She now refers parents to the organization.

Baxter imagines more such collaboration in the future.

“We have plenty to do,” he said.

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

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Statement from Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., on the passing of baseball legend Hank Aaron https://news.nd.edu/news/statement-from-notre-dame-president-rev-john-i-jenkins-c-s-c-on-the-passing-of-baseball-legend-hank-aaron/ news_134601 2021-01-22T13:00:00-0500 Notre Dame News “When Notre Dame bestowed an honorary degree on Hank Aaron in 2005, our citation referenced his legendary baseball career and concluded that, most importantly, he had done it all ‘fair and square.’ His many records, particularly in the face of racial prejudice, make him one of the greats of the game.

Statement from Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., on the passing of baseball legend Hank Aaron

Notre Dame News

“When Notre Dame bestowed an honorary degree on Hank Aaron in 2005, our citation referenced his legendary baseball career and concluded that, most importantly, he had done it all ‘fair and square.’ His many records, particularly in the face of racial prejudice, make him one of the greats of the game.

“But, for as marvelous as his skills were, his off-the-field accomplishments were just as — perhaps even more — important and long-lasting. During his playing days and throughout his life, he played a quiet but important role in the civil rights movement and for racial justice. Part of that commitment included his and his wife Billye’s Chasing the Dream Foundation, which for 25 years has helped young people with limited financial resources pursue their dreams. We were honored four years ago when the foundation’s 44th scholarship — in recognition of Mr. Aaron’s uniform number — was established at Notre Dame.

“Hank Aaron was a tremendous baseball player and an even better human being. The prayers of the Notre Dame family are with Billye and his family, friends and many fans.”

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Statement by Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., on presidential orders and actions https://news.nd.edu/news/statement-by-notre-dame-president-rev-john-i-jenkins-c-s-c-on-presidential-orders-and-actions/ news_133481 2021-01-21T17:50:00-0500 Notre Dame News "We’re thankful that President Biden has taken immediate action through an executive order to preserve and fortify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and for his support for legislation to provide permanent status and a path to citizenship for Dreamers."

Statement by Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., on presidential orders and actions

Notre Dame News

“We have for many years supported the cause of Dreamers, those young men and women who were brought to the United States as minors and have known only this country as their home. They have lived with the possibility of deportation hanging over their heads. We’re thankful that President Biden has taken immediate action through an executive order to preserve and fortify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and for his support for legislation to provide permanent status and a path to citizenship for Dreamers. The University is also heartened by executive action putting an end to the restrictions to entry directed primarily at people from Muslim-majority countries.

“These two decisions advance racial justice and assist underserved communities, a cause to which we at Notre Dame likewise remain committed. 

“Finally, the action to rejoin the Paris Agreement on Climate Change coincides with Notre Dame’s long support of sustainability, including sponsorship of two Vatican summits on reducing dependence on fossil fuels.”

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Presidential Transition Index uncovers institutional vulnerabilities, unmet legal provisions https://news.nd.edu/news/presidential-transition-index-uncovers-institutional-vulnerabilities-unmet-legal-provisions/ news_133475 2021-01-21T16:00:00-0500 Colleen Sharkey The Presidential Transition Index (PTI) team at the University of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs closely analyzed the completion of each legal requirement and ultimately rated the transition efforts at 76 percent.

Presidential Transition Index uncovers institutional vulnerabilities, unmet legal provisions

Colleen Sharkey

For 20 days following the 2020 U.S. presidential election, the results remained in question as the General Services Administration (GSA) would not grant ascertainment. During that time, the official administration transition nearly came to a halt, potentially compromising the health of U.S. democracy and American lives in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Presidential Transition Index (PTI) team at the University of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs closely analyzed the completion of each legal requirement and ultimately rated the transition efforts at 76 percent. Overall, by Election Day, the three responsible teams – Trump/Biden administration teams and the GSA – had failed to complete 24 percent of legal requirements. The complete preliminary report is available here.

The ascertainment delay and failure to meet other requirements were particularly harmful in that it left President Biden's incoming team without vital national security intelligence. The Department of Homeland Security Report and the National Security Briefing were never delivered during the transition period. The Trump administration also failed to fulfill provisions related to filling vacancies, training and information sharing, which are meant to ease administrative and managerial continuation.

Overall, the PTI team’s research reveals serious weaknesses in the US presidential transition system. Although the democratic norms associated with the transition of power are vital, they are not backed up by explicit legal mandates and can be easily violated.  

“It is long past time for a systematic overhaul to restore shared commitments to democratic norms,” the team wrote. “President Trump’s norm breaking behaviors—especially his refusal to concede defeat and his lack of commitment to a peaceful transfer of power—turned technocratic procedures into partisan battlegrounds.”

The PTI team uses a mixed-methods approach consisting of weekly quantitative assessments of adherence to transition statutes and qualitative feedback gathered from two waves of expert surveys. Thirty variables were categorized as dynamic, scheduled to occur either before and after the election or only after the election, with one additional variable occurring after inauguration day. For the surveys, the PTI team identified 50 academics, journalists, activists, think tank/NGO professionals and officials involved in previous transitions.

One of the team’s goals was to provide recommendations. First, members suggest commissioning a review of the electoral process to better define the timing and actions of the winning and losing presidential candidates after Election Day, such as reducing the timing between the election and final certification of results, and defining a fixed period for legal arbitration. They also suggest Congress should review potential restrictions on outgoing presidents’ authority during the transition period, including powers of pardon, appointment and dismissal of political nominees and other unilateral executive powers. The team stresses that Congress should pass legislation explicitly mandating that the GSA ascertain the election results as soon as possible after Election Day.

To re-establish norms and restore faith in American democracy, the team recommends creating an independent commission to investigate the role of democratic norms in promoting smooth and orderly presidential transitions, and to generate additional recommendations for rebuilding these norms. They also recommend enacting a bipartisan resolution to organize a domestic democracy summit with key members of both Democratic and Republican leadership to serve as observers and facilitators. Finally, they encourage bipartisan support of Biden’s efforts to organize a global democracy summit.

Contact: Colleen Sharkey, assistant director of media relations, 574-631-9958, csharke2@nd.edu

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A Semester, Interrupted: International Student Stories https://news.nd.edu/news/a-semester-interrupted-international-student-stories/ news_133443 2021-01-21T10:00:00-0500 Colleen Wilcox As the pandemic first exploded in the United States in early spring, international students had to make a tough call: Should they find a way to stay on campus or return to their home countries to wait for the situation to resolve itself? The crisis intensified in many locations across the world, making it nearly impossible for international students who had returned home to make it back to campus by the start of the 2020-21 academic year.…

A Semester, Interrupted: International Student Stories

Colleen Wilcox

As the pandemic first exploded in the United States in early spring, international students had to make a tough call: Should they find a way to stay on campus or return to their home countries to wait for the situation to resolve itself? The crisis intensified in many locations across the world, making it nearly impossible for international students who had returned home to make it back to campus by the start of the 2020-21 academic year.

The hurdles were significant for these students, as they faced travel restrictions, limited flight options and closed U.S. embassies. The University was charged with creating viable and accessible solutions that supported all students in their academic progress. Notre Dame International was also working with partners on campus and abroad to create innovative programs that keep students engaged with the Notre Dame community. Determining the available options was not an easy task, specifically for first-year international undergraduate and graduate students.

Three international students share their personal stories and offer a glimpse into the reality of being an international student during a global pandemic.

To read the story, click here.

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