Friday Week: Empty without you

Author: Andy Fuller

Note: Dated communications are archived here for reference, but may not reflect the most up-to-date information available.

Muffet McGraw and Niele Ivey
Passing the torch: Collegiate sports’ best-kept secret was divulged with the announcement Wednesday of legendary coach Muffet McGraw’s retirement.  Her successor, Niele Ivey was named the same day.. (Photo: Fighting Irish Media)

Dear faculty and staff:

Each morning Father Jenkins walks from his apartment on campus to his office under the Dome. In a Spring Town Hall meeting, live-streamed this afternoon, he commented on the stunning beauty of campus in full bloom today, but also how “it’s empty without you.”

Notre Dame’s in-person town hall meetings between administrators and employees have been canceled.  The live streamed version was hosted by Father Jenkins and Executive Vice President Shannon Cullinan, with employee questions posed by Ann Firth, the president’s chief of staff.  A few highlights:

  • Staggering unemployment and other financial blows caused by the pandemic will require the University to find additional resources for increased student financial aid.
  • Pandemic-related threats to the University’s finances have resulted in a staff hiring freeze, no merit increases and the postponement of certain construction projects.  The University’s hope is to reopen on time this fall.  If not, the University may have to consider other budget restrictions.

Father Jenkins asked employees for their continued patience and adaptability. He predicted that the Notre Dame family, trusting in God, “will get through this together.”

No day more significant

In a letter to his faculty colleagues on Wednesday, Father Jenkins wrote that there are several committees at work planning for the start of the new academic year.  “Our goal is, of course, to hold classes on campus in the fall, if health and safety guidelines permit,” Father Jenkins said.  “We recognize the challenges this presents and we are planning for contingencies.” He told his colleagues that he had asked Provost Tom Burish and Provost-elect Marie Lynn Miranda, “To work with me on a communication to go out soon on planning for the fall.  Although we will not be able at that time to communicate definite decisions, we can let you know about the considerations guiding our thinking.” 

Father Jenkins also used the occasion to inform faculty of plans for a remote conferral ceremony for the Class of 2020 on May 17, and a traditional, in-person commencement for this year’s graduates over Memorial Day weekend, 2021.

Provost Tom Burish was also recognized in the letter for his 15 years “of truly distinguished service as our Provost.”  Father Jenkins added, “As I have said before, no day in my presidency has been more significant than the day that Tom Burish agreed to serve as Provost at Notre Dame. He brought experience, a devotion to our Catholic mission and a commitment to the highest standards in research and teaching. He combined ambition for the institution with personal humility, exacting standards with a real sense of fairness and compassion. It has been one of the great privileges of my life to work alongside him.”  Full text here.

This call to action

In response to the upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Notre Dame Provost-elect Marie Lynn Miranda, in collaboration with other higher education leaders, has enlisted the support of nearly 70 colleges and universities in asking medical schools to accept pass/no-credit grades from applicants in lieu of letter grades for spring 2020 courses. 

Provost-elect Miranda was interviewed about this initiative on the Inside Higher Ed podcast this week (forward to the 19:45 mark). Further information is also available here.

With projects and finals looming

In its weekly newsletter yesterday, Thursday, the Division for Student Affairs reminded students that “as the semester comes to a close with end-of-year projects and finals looming, now is a good time for a check-in on strategies for success and productivity. Download the Staying Motivated handout for reflective questions and tips for success, and visit the McWell website for additional well-being resource.” For other great tips and health and wellness resources, check-out the Division of Student Affairs latest newsletter published here.

For the Muslim world, everything changes

As with Christians and Jews around the world, important religious holidays are often accompanied by travel and family gatherings. That’s true of Ramadan, the most sacred month in Islam.  OPAC’s Amanda Skofstad talks to Mun’im Sirry and Gabriel Said Reynolds, faculty in Notre Dame’s World Religions World Church program, about how millions of the Islamic faithful are coping under restrictions imposed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.  Full story here.

More than a mentor, more than a friend

Today the University concluded its sixth week of working remotely during which time, the coronavirus dominated the news every day.  In the Notre Dame community, however, Wednesday was a welcome respite.  That’s when we paused to mark the culmination of one of the greatest coaching careers ever, and the passing of the torch.  That’s when the tightly held news was disclosed that Muffet McGraw was retiring as head coach of Notre Dame’s women’s basketball.  The passing of the torch to Niele Ivey was captured nicely by the South Bend Tribune’s Tom Noie.

Best coach, best educator…

Long before Muffet McGraw’s plans became public, Vice President for University Relations Lou Nanni made a great scheduling call by asking Vice President and James E. Rohr Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick to be a guest on a broadcast slated for the same day that Muffet’s plans became public. Swarbrick talked about McGraw, Ivey and everything from Vice President Pence to how Athletics is working through the pandemic.  Full interview is here.

In Notre Dame,

Paul J. Browne

Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications