RecSports had a problem. Four years ago, students were dropping out of fitness classes because the classes weren’t what they expected or wanted. That changed when the department began offering a week of free fitness classes at the start of every semester. Shellie Dodd-Bell, RecSports fitness and instruction program coordinator, said when she first arrived in 2007, RecSports was giving students a lot of refunds for fitness classes. “So we began offering sample classes, which gives students an opportunity to feel things out before they commit,” she said. The sample class program has been very successful, with some 1,200 students taking part in over 50 free fitness classes offered in one week, Dodd-Bell said. Students from freshmen to seniors make use of the free classes, and their fitness levels are as varied as their ages. Linda Hardy, an 11-year veteran of RecSports yoga instruction, taught a sample class Wednesday to a mixture of student abilities. “One girl came up to me before class to ask about becoming a yoga instructor here at Notre Dame,” Hardy said. “A handful of students had never done yoga before.” The sample class did not get through every yoga pose she had planned, but Hardy is glad that she was able to offer her class for a trial run. “The free sample probably promotes the class more than paying for it right up front,” Hardy said. “It helps the students adjust to a schedule and lets them pick and choose the best class and instructor for them.” The students in Hardy’s class also enjoyed sampling how the class fits into their schedules and exercise plans. “I’m glad I get to figure out if I like the class before making a commitment,” Elizabeth Benson, an off-campus senior, said. “It also helps to try out different instructors.” Freshman Jessica Schaefer was glad she could add yoga class to her schedule during her first week of college. “It’s a good chance to relax in the crazy start to the school year,” Schaefer said. “Now that I’ve been to the class, I can see that it would be worth it to pay the fee, to actually sign up.” Hardy’s sample yoga class had 14 students during the busy noon hour, a number that impressed some of the students. “I’m really impressed by how many people are involved in the fitness classes and other physical fitness stuff on campus,” Schaefer said, Although RecSports advertises for its sample fitness classes, many of the attendees hear about the opportunity by word-of-mouth. “My sister had taken yoga before and I decided to take the class with her,” Benson said. Meanwhile, Dodd-Bell offered some advice to students interested in attending a sample RecSports class, especially the popular Step, Sculpt and Pilates classes which have limited equipment. “Come early,” Dodd-Bell said. “The classes are first come, first served.” Above all, Dodd-Bell said, students should use the sample class week to find a fitness class that is “just right for them.”
Notre Dame moved up one spot in U.S. News & World Report’s recent list of best universities, passing Emory University to claim No. 19. Rice University and Vanderbilt University were just ahead of Notre Dame at No. 17, and Harvard University reclaimed the top spot in the rankings. University spokesman Dennis Brown said while the ranking serves a purpose, the University is publicly skeptical about its evaluation system. “While we recognize that the U.S. News & World Report survey serves a useful function for some prospective students and their parents, we are on record for more than 15 years as having reservations about its methodology,” Brown said in a statement. “That said, we believe that by any measure Notre Dame is among the nation’s top 25 undergraduate institutions.” The U.S. News & World Report website said a college education is one of the most important and costly investments that prospective students will make. “For this reason, the editors of U.S. News believe that students and their families should have as much information as possible about the comparative merits of the educational programs at America’s colleges and universities,” the website stated. Each school is ranked in 16 areas of academic excellence, the website said. These scores are combined into a “composite weighted score,” which is used to determine rankings. “Regardless of rankings, we also are confident that Notre Dame is second to none in providing an extraordinary undergraduate experience, engaging in research that improves the human condition and serving the Church and society,” Brown said. U.S. News & World Report also recently released a list of the top 10 universities where applying early can increase a prospective student’s chance of acceptance. Notre Dame was listed fifth, behind Cornell University. “This may cause some to think that it’s easier to get admitted by applying early,” Brown said. “The reality is that we do have a higher acceptance rate for early action applicants, although that alone does not tell the whole story.” In Fall 2009, there was a 42 percent acceptance rate during early action, while the regular action applicant pool had a 23 percent acceptance rate, a U.S. News & World Report press release stated. Brown said this discrepancy occurred because of a difference in the quality of the applicant pools. “The academic quality of the early-action admitted students is considerably stronger. That’s why we encourage students to apply early if, and we emphasize if, they have a superior academic record,” Brown said. “Otherwise, it’s best to get the best possible test scores and grades into your file before applying in the regular action cycle at the end of December.” Also published is a list of national universities as ranked by high school counselors from high school’s on U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best High Schools” list. Notre Dame was ranked No. 13 by this group of counselors, tied with five other schools. Notre Dame also sits among the top five schools with the highest four-year graduation rates, according to U.S. News & World Report.
On the fifth floor of Bertram Hall, Sister Rose Anne Schultz of the Sisters of the Holy Cross recounts the stories of Saint Mary’s College that started it all. In the Heritage Rooms, Schultz gives tours and highlights the letters, artwork and religious items that belong to the sisters of the College. One such item includes the family tree of the Holy Cross. “[The family tree] starts with Father [Jacques] Dujarie,” she said. “Father Dujarie had this group of brothers called the Brothers of Saint Joseph. Father Dujarie was getting on in years and he wanted to do some advance planning, so he said to the bishop, “Help me find someone to take over the brothers and be their director after I am too old to do it.”” Schultz said this is how Blessed Basil Moreau, who was a young priest at the time, was given the task of leading the brothers in 1835. “[Moreau] said why don’t I get the priests and the brothers together to form one group … In his mind, [he] always had the vision of both men and women. He wanted priests, brothers and sisters,” she said. At this time in history, men and women were not allowed to share a religious community, Schultz said. Instead, the women in the community were called “pious girls.” Eventually, after much deliberation with Rome, the Marianites of the Holy Cross, women of prayer, were founded in 1841. “Moreau’s vision was always global. The big issues [were] to see what needs to be done and do it,” she said. “So with that, he had sent brothers off. However, when the priests and brothers got [to the U.S.], they were busy doing things and said [they needed] help.” Schultz said four young French women who had just made their vows were sent over to help the brothers. These women formed the basis of the Sisters of the Holy Cross in 1844, the birth year of Saint Mary’s College. The main Heritage Room also houses boards that highlight each “Mother Superior,” or leader of the congregation, and her accomplishments during her tenure. Mother Rose Elizabeth, one of the congregation’s greatest leaders, is just one woman featured on the boards, Schultz said. “At the time, different congregations were doing their formations,” she said. “Finally, they said maybe we can get together and not change who we are, but share ideas. So, this group [headed by Mother Rose Elizabeth] became the first leadership conference of women religious that still exists today.” Along with the boards, the main heritage room features a machine used to make the tiny pleats that made up the halo-looking white habit the sisters used to wear. “This machine was invented by one of the sisters to make the habit, and it was very delicate and difficult work,” Schultz said. Along with the main room, two other rooms feature the international work the sisters have done in various countries, including India and Bangladesh, and showcase tokens of individual Sisters of the Holy Cross, including the Olympic torch Sister Maura Brannick carried through South Bend on the way to Salt Lake City. The congregation offers heritage tours for visitors Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Writer, producer and story editor Tom Leopold served up his reflections on faith with a side of comedy during his one-man show, “A Comedy Writer Finds God,” on Thursday night at Saint Mary’s. Leopold, who has worked with shows like “Will and Grace,” “Cheers,” “Seinfeld” and “The Chevy Chase Show,” converted from Judaism to Catholicism a few years ago. At the beginning of the show, Leopold explained the title of his program. “God was fine, He wasn’t lost,” he said. “I may have been a little bit, but He was fine.” The performance included an array of jokes about his life growing up but also some commentary on how he got to where he is today. The show told the story about his personal journey to faith and finding his place in the world with God by his side. “That’s the great thing about having faith and religion – feeling like you belong,” he said. Leopold grew up in a Jewish family in Miami but never really gave much thought to God as a child or even as an adult. He said when he got married and had his two daughters, he still had not truly considered why or how he had been so fortunate. “I knew [my family] was blessed,” he said. “I never stopped to think by who, I just knew that we were lucky.” Leopold said his religious experiences began to change a few years ago when his youngest daughter became deathly ill and had to be hospitalized. After the family experienced a particularly difficult Christmas Eve away from her while she underwent treatment, he said he felt “so sad that I could break” and decided to pray to God for a sign. “I didn’t know how to do it, but I actually started to pray,” he said. “For the first time in my life, I was praying.” Through a series of events, conversations and experiences, Leopold said he seriously considered converting to Catholicism. He said he found himself at this new point in his life, and it was a welcome and necessary change. “Religion is a leap of faith,” he said. “After everything I had been through and that had happened to me, I was ready to leap.” Tonight’s performance concluded Leopold and comedian Bill Persky’s two-day visit to the College. Persky, a five-time Emmy award winning writer, director and producer, is best known for his work on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Kate and Allie,” “That Girl,” “Who’s the Boss” and “The Cosby Show.” Persky introduced Leopold during Thursday’s performance, and he said the headliner was a man very dear to him. During the trip, the comedic pair met with students for meals, taught private master classes and gave workshops. The duo also worked closely with English, theatre and communication students for discussion panels. This was Persky’s second visit to Saint Mary’s in just six months and Leopold’s first visit to the College. Persky said he was very excited to be back at Saint Mary’s. “It feels like coming back home,” he said. “We’ve spent a lot of time with the students here and they give you hope for the future. The young women at this school are so delightful.” Senior Rose Franzen was on of the students able to eat lunch with Leopold and Persky during their visit. She also attended the various workshops, master classes and Leopold’s one-man show. Franzen said she especially enjoyed Thursday evening’s performance for its inclusion of faith and God into the world of humor and laughter. “I thought [the performance] was really great,” she said. “I loved how he wove his comedy into his religious experience. Like he said – it’s not perfect, it’s him.”
An information session on new housing was held Tuesday night to elaborate on the email students received Jan. 13 detailing changes and renovations being made to housing on campus. The email said residents of Pangborn Hall will be moved to the new female dorm that’s currently under construction while Pangborn Hall will serve as a “swing dorm” for residents of halls under renovation during the school year. The new corresponding male dorm will be filled by application. Megan Valley | The Observer The Office of Student Affairs showcases pictures of what two newresidential halls opening in the fall of 2016 will look like.Heather Rakoczy Russell, associate vice president for residential life, said the addition of new dorms and renovation of existing ones is a continuation of the residential master plan that began in 2006.“That residential master plan was largely aimed at what we call ‘decanting,’ or un-crowding the undergraduate residence halls,” Rakoczy Russell said. “A room, for instance, that’s a triple might become a double, doubles become singles and so reducing the configurations. Some of you probably live where study room have been converted into student rooms, so we, to the extent that we could, reversed that.”Walsh and Badin Halls were the last halls on the list to be addressed by the 2006 plan, so they, along with Morrissey Hall, will be the first ones addressed with the new residential master plan. “For the next chapter, we think of what will be the next residential spirit of Notre Dame,” Rakoczy Russell said. “What that master residential plan is focused on is some of the same, which is finishing decanting and equalizing heating and plumbing, but also something beyond that, something that’s special. That something is something we’ve come to call the ‘model program.’”According to Rakoczy Russell, the model program consists of three categories: student rooms, common space and apartments for hall staff as well as priests and faculty in residence. These categories form the foundation for residents to “gather to share life” and offer a chance to “build Christian community.”The new dorms, currently under construction, are located east of Pasquerilla East Hall and Knott Hall.“These halls are complementary, but asymmetrical — we didn’t want the dorms to be carbon copies of each other,” Russell said. “We know our men and women’s dorms are different for many reasons, and we didn’t want them to be identical.”Some of the differences Rakoczy Russell cited included full kitchens on every floor of the women’s dorm, with kitchenettes on floors two, three and four in the men’s dorm, space for food sales in the men’s basement and six-person rooms in the men’s dorm, as well as another apartment on the fourth floor for a priest or faculty member. Both dorms will have singles, doubles and quads. Other features in the dorms, largely determined by student focus groups, include reading rooms on the first floor, a two-story open main lounge and unique rooms on the fourth floors, which Rakoczy Russell said was to encourage seniors to stay on campus. The chapels will also be highly visible from the outside.“Our chapels are a central part of building Christian community in the residence halls,” Rakoczy Russell said. “By situating the chapel this way, this is externally expressed. When you walk past these halls, the chapel will be seen as its own entity.” Rakoczy Russell said applicants for the men’s dorm and the remaining beds in the women’s dorm would not be based on merit, but rather on balancing demographics, including “major, hometown, home country, interests, race, ethnicity and nationality.” Applicants will also have the option to apply as a group as large as six — the application will allow for students to indicate whether they’re only interested in moving if the whole group is selected, under the assumption they must accept if the entire group is chosen. Current Pangborn residents may also have the opportunity to “pull in” students from other dorms. “We have a deep and abiding love for the residential system here at Notre Dame, and we’re so grateful to be part of this campus,” Vice President of Student Affairs Erin Hoffmann Harding said. “The motivation behind these changes is a reinvestment in the tradition we all hold so dear.” Tags: Construction, Housing, residence halls, Student Life
Last December during finals week, two students had an idea to create a new sort of clothing brand, calling it “The Cove.” The students, freshman Anthony DiCarlo and sophomore Charliepat Hart, both residents of Siegfried Hall, plan to sell high-quality clothing to college students, with a portion of the proceeds going to charity.DiCarlo and Hart have already held one sale of t-shirts and are currently receiving orders for crew-neck shirts, both with original designs made by Hart.“We had 17 [shirts] sold, so it was kinda small, but people were buying them and people wear them and more people are asking, ‘What is The Cove?’” DiCarlo said. “We’re currently doing a crewneck order [and] we currently have 20 orders. Hopefully as time goes on, with more exposure, we’ll be able to sell more and raise more money for this program.”Hart said the inspiration to start the brand came while the two were studying for finals in the Fishbowl of Hesburgh Library.“We were sitting on the couch, and I needed an outlet,” Hart said. “I moved the couch around to get to the outlet, and we found out that when we moved the couches around, it sort of created this cool space that resembled a cove, so we decided to call it the ‘cove.’ We just started to decorate it to make it feel more homey and to be a more enjoyable place to study. I went and got all my pillows and blankets from my dorm room — we made [paper] snowflakes at 3 a.m. one night. We brought a Christmas tree over, and we put a fireplace up on the TV. It was a very inclusive space — we wanted people to come in. We had communal snacks that anyone could take.”Hart said they wanted to share this experience with other students.“We decided that we wanted to share this with everyone and were thinking about how we could do that, so we decided to sell t-shirts,” Hart said. “Then we thought, instead of just selling t-shirts aimlessly, we could also put it towards a good cause, so we decided 20 percent of our profits would go to a charitable cause.”Hart said that they currently are donating to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), a global charity “dedicated to the protection of whales and dolphins,” according to the WDC website. The motivation for choosing this charity, Hart said, was from watching the 2009 Academy Award-winning documentary “The Cove,” criticizing Japanese dolphin hunting practices.Hart said that once he and DiCarlo became privy to what was going on over in Japan, “we decided we had to do something.”DiCarlo said that The Cove does not currently have any staff besides Hart and himself.“I was a co-founder along with Charliepat — we kind of both do about everything for it,” DiCarlo said. “We’re a two-man show running everything — working on new designs, new t-shirts, marketing, everything. It’s a dual effort in a sense.”Hart said that he and DiCarlo have great aspirations for the brand while starting small.“Our immediate goal is to become a real presence in our local area: this campus,” he said. “Long term, we want to be a premier outfitter for college students across the nation, for students who want that quality of Vineyard Vines or Patagonia but at an affordable price.” “We’re just trying to be something that can provide good for the world, in a sense. Yes, we’re very small right now, but who knows where this could end up going?” DiCarlo said. Tags: Dolphins, Hesburgh Library, The Cove, whales
The new Angela Athletic Facility opened Tuesday at Saint Mary’s after more than a year and a half of construction on the building that hadn’t been previously renovated since the 1970s. The facility is now open to students and faculty with brand new cardio and strength equipment and a larger indoor running track. Construction is still ongoing in the facility to finish work on the new cafe, two TV lounges and new locker rooms that will be finished after winter break. Saint Mary’s athletic director Julie Schroeder-Biek said after having offices in separate buildings, she is ready to have all of the athletic staff back in one place.“One of the things I’m so excited about is the staff being back together again,” Schroeder-Biek said. “It’s been a challenge to just stay on the same page. We have monthly meetings and we’re a tight staff, but I can’t wait until we’re back together again.”Schroeder-Biek said she is most excited about what the new Angela facility is going to do for the larger community.“It’s going to have something for everybody,” she said. “If you want to workout, if you want to grab coffee, if you just want to hang out, meet friends or study, it’s going to be a real hub of community.”Sophomore soccer captain Callie Doyle said she thinks the new building and equipment will help get everyone in the door to workout. “I think the improvements that they made to Angela with benefit everyone whether they do a sport or not,” Doyle said. “The new equipment and track will help everyone get motivated to work out even when it’s cold outside.”Freshman soccer player Brianna Smith said she is excited that student athletes will finally have the room they need for workout classes, after spending seasons without a practical workout area.“I’m excited about the new space in the athletic training rooms,” Smith said. “We won’t be crowded in small rooms anymore getting taped up, and there is room for new ice baths which will help athletes a lot through their season.”After trying out the new facility, senior Gabby Moody said she was pleasantly surprised by the renovations. “It just seems like a very clean space and it just has so much more variety and options for us to take care of our physical and mental health,” she said.Students are looking forward to the new cafe that is going to feature new choices for on-campus dining. Sophomore Molly Murphy, also a member of the Saint Mary’s soccer team, said she and her friends will finally find it easy to get nutritious food.“I’m really excited for the cafe,” she said. “It will be an easy and convenient way to get a healthy post workout snack that everyone would want after a hard practice or workout.”Schroeder-Biek said she is ready for people to visit Angela and test out the brand new equipment and new spaces for athletes and the community. “The whole potential of what we can do with the building, expanding programs, and the things that can happen in this space, and how we’re going to bring it to life — I’m just so excited thinking about what we can do,” she said.Tags: Angela Athletic Facility, Construction, renovations, Saint Mary’s Athletics
The Notre Dame Board of Trustees appointed Fr. Daniel G. Groody as a fellow and trustee Friday, a University press released announced Thursday. Groody, a prolific author and filmmaker who works at the University an associate professor of theology and global affairs, replaces Fr. Timothy Scully, who served as a trustee for 18 years and a fellow for 16.As one of the University’s Fellows — which consists of six lay peoples and six priests form the Congregation of Holy Cross — Groody will help elect members of the Board of Trustees and has the ability to “adopt and amend the bylaws” of the University, the release said. The Fellows are also responsible for maintaining the Catholic character of the University.Groody graduated from Notre Dame in 1986 and holds a masters of divinity degree as well as a licentiate in sacred theology from the Jesuit School of Theology. Groody received his doctorate in theology at the Graduate Theological Union.As an author and filmmaker, Groody’s work focuses on the theology of migration and refugees issues. From 2007 to 2008, he worked as a visiting research fellow at Oxford University’s Refugee Studies Centre. In 2010, Groody received the Catholic Charities Centennial medal.Groody received the Rev. Edmund P. Joyce, C.S.C., Award for Sustained Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 2011 for his work in the theology department.Tags: Board of Trustees, Daniel Groody, Notre Dame fellows, Timothy Scully
Holy Cross evacuated students from the College’s residence halls after power went out across campus at about 6:25 a.m. the morning of Jan. 30. An alert was sent out to the community stating that residents would have to evacuate the dorms and board Notre Dame Transpo buses to North Dining Hall.Holy Cross senior Noemi de La Torre said she did not realize the power was not working until she was forced to leave campus.“Moving to Notre Dame when the power went out was kind of overwhelming. I wasn’t awake when the evacuation was initially notified, so when the girls in my dorm woke me up, I kind of freaked out. I didn’t know what to expect in an evacuation, so I grabbed some random things from my room, shoved them in my backpack, put on a few layers of clothes and got on the bus,” de La Torre said.Residence Assistants (RAs) had the responsibility of escorting other students onto the shuttles. Holy Cross junior and RA I.C. Young said that he was awake before the start of the evacuation and noticed the temperature change right away.“I got a text from [Residence Life],” Young said. “I’m an early riser, so I was up at 8 a.m. on my own, but all the RAs were sent a text warning us that we have lost power and will be evacuating if things didn’t change soon. Plus it was freezing so I knew the heat was off.”Freshman Leonardo Ocampo, a freshman at Holy Cross, said the staff tried to make students feel safe during the evacuation.“The process of moving from Holy Cross to Notre Dame was incredibly organized and fast. I was able to get dressed and head down stairs where I was escorted to a bus. It’s certainly an inconvenience getting woken up by your RA pounding at your door because the power is out, but the whole situation was an emergency evacuation, so on those terms it went as smooth as possible,” Ocampo said. “I feel safe knowing that in a case of another unfortunate accident [Holy Cross] has an efficient plan.”Students found different ways to pass time in North Dinning Hall as they waited for power to be restored on campus. De La Torre said she became friends with another student during this time.“My friends went home for the weekend, so I sat at a table with a guy that I had seen around campus that was friends with my friends and talked to him,” de La Torre said. “We got stuck together through the entire evacuation and got to know each other. When we realized we were going to be at Notre Dame for a while, we ate some breakfast and watched Netflix until the evacuation ended.”As a Texas native, de La Torre said she found the extreme weather unfamiliar.“The experience was overwhelming … I had never experienced weather bad enough to cause an evacuation, I had no idea what to bring or how long we were going to be gone, so it was kind of scary,” she added.Power was restored to campus around noon and students returned to their residence halls by 1:30 p.m.Tags: Holy Cross, Polar Vortex, power outage
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article misstated the university where Nyanjura graduated. She graduated from Kyambogo University, not Campbell University.Tags: Amnesty International, Keough School of Global Affairs, Uganda When Victoria Nyanjura noticed a hole in the Women’s Advocacy Network in Uganda, she knew she had to act.A graduate student in Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs, Nyanjura is a Ugandan native who is a survivor of captivity. At 14 years old, she was abducted in Aboke, Uganda, by the paramilitary group Lord’s Resistance Army. She was a prisoner for eight years before escaping.Years later, Nyanjura graduated from Kyambogo University in Kampala, Uganda as an undergraduate student. She then traveled back to Uganda, where she realized economic empowerment was missing in a system meant to assist women who had been previously enslaved.As a response, in 2017 she established Women in Action for Women (WAW), an organization focused on offering women vocational skills and business training.“I realized this is an area that some of us need to think deeper, and it needs to really be talked about and explained because people need to understand the importance of building these skills of individuals that enable them to go independent and be able to provide for themselves,” Nyanjura said. As was recently made clear, her effort did not go unnoticed.On Feb. 5, Nyanjura was announced as one of two recipients of the 2019 Ginetta Sagan Award for her work empowering women in Uganda. The award, which also grants the winner $20,000, is given annually to recognize and assist “women who are working to protect the liberty and lives of women and children in areas where human rights violations are widespread,” according to Amnesty International USA.“I was blessed to work on and to coordinate the activities of the Women’s Advocacy Network,” Nyanjura said. “Over the years … I kept on seeing something that was missing in all that was being done [and that] was the component of economic empowerment.” WAW stresses meeting women where they are and making opportunities accessible, Nyanjura said.“This issue requires doing something that works for the women, so they don’t have to think of the international market,” she said. “The market should come their way, and it should focus on what they can do within their communities where they are located and they should be able to access markets by themselves.”Nyanjura found her way to Notre Dame to build her skills and networking in hopes of better helping her community. “After college, I went and started working, but I felt that I really needed to build my capacity in a lot of things in terms of writing and in terms of understanding theories in peacebuilding and comparing what has happened to other places,” Nyanjura said.The Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies offered her that opportunity.Nyanjura will graduate in May with a master in Global Affairs and a concentration in International Peace Studies. She plans to return to Uganda to further her foundation’s reach. “Right now I am very sure that when I get back, I [will be] able to do more for WAW and at the same time, I will have the ability to continue knocking down doors and seeing how we can partner with individuals who are interested in supporting a common cause,” Nyanjura said. One of Nyanjura’s biggest obstacles has been having the courage to tell her story. Even so, she says receiving the International Amnesty award has been one step forward in having her voice heard.“I think that telling is hard right now and continuing to advocate, to really make people understand that we have unique challenges that need to be tackled in specific ways,” she said. “[The award] has motivated me to continue telling this story.”