The Catholic community lost a giant late last night with the passing at the age of 97 of Father Theodore Hesburgh, former president of the University of Notre Dame. I just said yesterday, before the news, what a long and productive life he has led. Not only did he bring Notre Dame from a small Catholic university with a reputation for good football teams and a strong theology program to an institution nationally recognized for its strong academic programs—and football—but during his tenure, he transferred governance of Notre Dame from the Congregation of Holy Cross to a mostly lay board.
Affectionately called “Father Ted,” he always considered priesthood to be his primary role. He also never compromised his values—whether he was dealing with Presidents (he held 16 presidential appointments) or popes (he served four). For me, one of his most influential acts was when he gathered a group of Catholic educators in Land O’ Lakes, Wis., in 1967. The group issued a landmark policy statement declaring that the pursuit of truth, not catechesis, was the ultimate goal of Catholic higher learning in the United States, changing the entire landscape of education in this country.
For the past 10 years, SHU has proudly offered the annual Hesburgh Lecture, which honors Father Ted, and has provided lectures from Notre Dame faculty on a variety of fascinating topics.
“The Catholic university should be a place,” Father Hesburgh once wrote, “where all the great questions are asked, where an exciting conversation is continually in progress, where the mind constantly grows as the values and powers of intelligence and wisdom are cherished and exercised in full freedom.” He was a shining light and will be sorely missed.
My wife and I attended the Elements concert last weekend and thoroughly enjoyed the talents of our performing arts students. They are incredibly talented, and this event gets better every year.
Student Philanthropy Week was a great success with more than 400 students participating in the thank-a-thon by writing approximately 1,200 thank-you postcards to donors. In addition to tags all over campus to demonstrate the importance of our generous benefactors, faculty and staff who participated in last year’s campaign were invited to a “Donuts for Donors” event. My thanks to everyone who participated. I especially want to thank Gary and Mary Anne Levin for sponsoring the Second Annual Levin Challenge where they agreed to match student donations dollar-for-dollar, up to $10,000. When the students again blew through that goal, the Levins generously increased the challenge amount to $12,500. In addition, the Levin match supports whatever area the student supported. For example, if a student donated $20.15 to the library, the Levin match will give $20.15 to the library.
Wednesday evening was the opening of the multimedia show “Crossroads: Rural Health Care in America” at the Art & Design Gallery in the Edgerton. It includes an exhibition of photographs and editorial work by Professor Rick Falco, a screening of a related documentary film by Professor Joe Alicastro and large-scale text graphics designed by Professor Jonathan Walker. The exhibition follows the doctors, nurses, community organizers and patients who are part of an innovative and well-planned health-care network in the Mississippi Delta. If you haven’t seen it, you should check it out.
Yesterday was Delta Tau Delta fraternity’s second annual White Ribbon Campaign here on campus. The campaign is an international push—the largest in the world by men working to end violence against women with a goal of engaging men by having them sign pledges, review literature and hear the stories of victims. Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau and Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara were among the speakers at the event. It is great to see our students working with community leaders to bring such an important issue to light.
Our men’s rugby team left today for their Spring Break Ireland Tour. During their trip, they will visit and play matches in Dublin, Limerick and Dingle. Team member Jason Libertelli is going to write a daily blog of the trip, so look for it on our website in the coming week.
Congratulations to Holly Johnson, whose illustration was accepted in the Society of Illustrators of New York’s nationally juried annual student competition. Holly’s piece was one of only 200 accepted from more than 8,000 entries from 86 schools.
Congratulations are also due for our vice president for Mission and Catholic Identity, Michael W. Higgins, on his newly-released Thomas Merton CD (Now You Know Media). In recent national and international ads, Fr. Anthony Ciorra, SHU’s associate vice president for Mission and Catholic Identity, is quoted as saying, “Thomas Merton was a literary genius and so is Michael Higgins.” You can be your own judge.
For those of you who will still be around over the weekend, there are several opportunities to come to campus and cheer on your Pioneer sports teams. The men’s volleyball team will be on the court against Penn State at 7 this evening and against St. Francis at 7 p.m. tomorrow. The men’s and women’s basketball teams have a doubleheader against LIU Brooklyn tomorrow with the women on the court at 1 p.m. and the men at 3:30 p.m. On Sunday, the women’s lacrosse team takes on UMass Lowell at 1 p.m. Go Pioneers!
Whether you are heading to sunnier climes, participating in a service learning trip, enjoying time at home with family and friends or sticking around campus, I want to wish everyone a fun and rewarding spring break!