Friday, April 18, 2008

The Shirt 2008

Here is the design for this year's The Shirt. Similar color to the Tradition Shirt from two years ago but that silk screen on the back is bit on the hopelessly wishful side. Maybe I just don't like the phrase "will rise again."

Notre Dame 80 years ago

In doing research for a class presentation that I have to give next week I came across some data of Notre Dame in 1928. Some of it might be interesting.

President 1928: Fr. Walsh CSC
President 2008: Fr. Jenkins CSC

Endowment 1928: $1,069,000
Endowment 2008: $6,500,000,000

Budget 1928: $741,08
Budget 2008: ~$900,000,000

Library volumes 1928: 130,000
Library volumes 2008: a lot
Bond Hall as library

Athletic facilities 1928: Fieldhouse Mall, Cartier Field, swimming pool
Athletic facilities 2008: Stadium, JACC, Eck Tennis, Eck Baseball, Cook Softball, Rock, Gug, Rolfs, two golf courses, Alumni Field, Krause Field (soon to be Arletta Lacrosse), Bookstore Basketball

Health 1928: 1 part-time university physician
Health 2008: St. Liam Hospital, with sun room

Women 1928: Across the street
Women 2008: 13 dorms

PE requirement 1928: 1 year
PE requirement 2008: 1 year

Enrollment 1928: 3237
Enrollment 2008: 11000

'Boy Guidance' professors 1928: 1
'Boy Guidance' professors 2008: 0

I like that little fountain on the right

Tuition 1928: $300
Tuition 2008: $36,340

Room 1928: '$2 to $8 a week'
Room 2008: too much

Board 1928: $375 a year
Board 2008: $4000 a year?

Scholarships 1928: $5,000
Scholarships 2008: $89,000,000

Aspirational Peers Indeed

I was doing nothing but minding my own business, when I ran across this article, which is, to say the least, deeply disturbing. The headline is called "Yale Student Insists 'Abortion Art' Project Is Real, Despite University's Claims of 'Creative Fiction'" and it tells of a senior art student at Yale, who repeatedly artificially inseminated herself then made "self-induced miscarriage procedures, though she never actually knew whether she was pregnant." Then from the miscarraiges, she made "art", to be on display later this week.

In reading some more articles and readers' comments, it seems like the next biggest controversy, besides the depravity of her actions, is whether or not she actually did what she said she did. She went back and forth a couple of times, and Yale says it was all a hoax, then she said that she had academic advisors and had University approval. Other issues raised concern the relationship of a woman's body to abortion, what constitutes as art in this postmodern era, freedom of speech and First Amendment rights, and whether she is just an attention-seeking performance artist.

My personal interpretation is that Yale endorsed her actions, then recieved a LOT of criticism for it and changed their official stance. Even if it is all a hoax, the fact that Yale is still permitting her to display her art (a blood-smeared cube of plastic) is telling. That there is the slightest possiblity her display is made from the results of her miscarraiges/abortions means that Yale is giving tacit consent to her actions or they don't have the moral courage to do anything besides distance themselves from something they may have at one point endorsed.

But all in the name of Academic Freedom, right? This is the Shining City on the Hill, right?

Yale University says that Aliza Shvarts, a senior, has assured officials that she did not really inseminate herself and induce miscarriages for her senior project, slated to go on display. Shvarts continues to imply otherwise. The university has upped the ante by saying that it will not permit her to display her work unless she signs an “unambiguous written statement that her installation is a work of fiction.” A statement from the university also indicated that an instructor and an adviser failed in their jobs overseeing the work and questioning it, and that “appropriate action” has been taken.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Benedict on Academic Freedom

As I personally expected, Pope Benedict's message to Catholic educators and university presidents today was a beautiful, eloquent exposition of the mission of Catholic education. There was no scolding here, no recounting of problems, as plentiful as they might be in Catholic universities in America. But the pope did address the pertinent issues of "academic freedom and Catholic character," the terms of the debate often employed here at ND.

Find below the two paragraphs on this particular issue. I encourage everyone to read the entire message over at Whispers in the Loggia.

In regard to faculty members at Catholic colleges universities, I wish to reaffirm the great value of academic freedom. In virtue of this freedom you are called to search for the truth wherever careful analysis of evidence leads you. Yet it is also the case that any appeal to the principle of academic freedom in order to justify positions that contradict the faith and the teaching of the Church would obstruct or even betray the university's identity and mission; a mission at the heart of the Church's munus docendi and not somehow autonomous or independent of it.

Teachers and administrators, whether in universities or schools, have the duty and privilege to ensure that students receive instruction in Catholic doctrine and practice. This requires that public witness to the way of Christ, as found in the Gospel and upheld by the Church's Magisterium, shapes all aspects of an institution's life, both inside and outside the classroom. Divergence from this vision weakens Catholic identity and, far from advancing freedom, inevitably leads to confusion, whether moral, intellectual or spiritual.

UPDATE: Jenkins' Response, c/o News & Information.

Benedict reaffirmed the “great value of academic freedom” while also saying that “any appeal to the principle of academic freedom in order to justify positions that contradict the faith and teaching of the Church would obstruct or even betray the university’s identity and mission.”

Father Jenkins said he appreciated the pope, himself a former university professor, drawing the distinction between “providing a forum where various views can be expressed and promoting views.”

Father Jenkins said that rather than focus on specifics, Benedict spoke at a higher level about the importance of truth and the dangers of moral relativism in our society.

“The talk was about the harmony of faith and reason and how faith that leads to truth can even reinforce a commitment to reason and its pursuit of truth,” Father Jenkins said. “He spoke at that kind of high level.

“He seemed to be worried about the challenges in society: of secularization; of putting religious belief on the margins; of a moral relativism that denies any objective reality. Those seemed to be the deep worries he has, and it is the deep role of Catholic institutions to be a beacon to proclaim the truth and the objectivity to moral claims. That was the thrust of his speech, and it’s our role to uphold those at Catholic institutions.”

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The First Catholic President?

Rick Santorum thinks Bush is it. See the Washington Post article from today, linked in this post's title, for the whole story.

Shortly after Pope Benedict XVI's election in 2005, President Bush met with a small circle of advisers in the Oval Office. As some mentioned their own religious backgrounds, the president remarked that he had read one of the new pontiff's books about faith and culture in Western Europe.

Save for one other soul, Bush was the only non-Catholic in the room. But his interest in the pope's writings was no surprise to those around him. As the White House prepares to welcome Benedict on Tuesday, many in Bush's inner circle expect the pontiff to find a kindred spirit in the president. Because if Bill Clinton can be called America's first black president, some say, then George W. Bush could well be the nation's first Catholic president.

This isn't as strange a notion as it sounds. Yes, there was John F. Kennedy. But where Kennedy sought to divorce his religion from his office, Bush has welcomed Roman Catholic doctrine and teachings into the White House and based many important domestic policy decisions on them.

"I don't think there's any question about it," says Rick Santorum, former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania and a devout Catholic, who was the first to give Bush the "Catholic president" label. "He's certainly much more Catholic than Kennedy."
"I used to say that there are more Catholics on President Bush's speechwriting team than on any Notre Dame starting lineup in the past half-century," said former Bush scribe -- and Catholic -- William McGurn.
Moreover, people close to Bush say that he has professed a not-so-secret admiration for the church's discipline and is personally attracted to the breadth and unity of its teachings. A New York priest who has befriended the president said that Bush respects the way Catholicism starts at the foundation -- with the notion that the papacy is willed by God and that the pope is Peter's successor. "I think what fascinates him about Catholicism is its historical plausibility," says this priest. "He does appreciate the systematic theology of the church, its intellectual cogency and stability." The priest also says that Bush "is not unaware of how evangelicalism -- by comparison with Catholicism -- may seem more limited both theologically and historically."

Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, another evangelical with an affinity for Catholic teaching, says that the key to understanding Bush's domestic policy is to view it through the lens of Rome. Others go a step further.

Paul Weyrich, an architect of the religious right, detects in Bush shades of former British prime minister Tony Blair, who converted to Catholicism last year. "I think he is a secret believer," Weyrich says of Bush. Similarly, John DiIulio, Bush's first director of faith-based initiatives, has called the president a "closet Catholic." And he was only half-kidding.

God and Man at Notre Dame

More on the Pope, but this time from a Domer, Newsweek religion editor Ken Woodward '57:

POPE BENEDICT XVI will give several speeches during his visit to the United States, but the most consequential for American Catholics may be his address to the presidents of Catholic colleges and universities tomorrow.

Benedict has shown himself concerned about preserving the specifically Roman Catholic identity of all Catholic institutions, particularly those in higher education. His predecessor, John Paul II, tried to do this by insisting that Catholic theology professors sign a document called a mandatum affirming their fidelity to the papal teaching. Conservative Catholics are counting on Benedict to enforce this approach.

Yet, because Benedict is at heart a professor, I hope that he recognizes that fidelity to church teachings cannot be coerced.

No question, a Catholic university should be identifiably Catholic. But the problem of institutional identity goes far beyond litmus tests for theologians.

Arguments over the “identity crisis” on Catholic campuses have been going on for 50 years — long enough to realize that there is no single thing that makes a Catholic university Catholic. Indeed, the question of Catholic identity has as much to do with the changes in Catholic students and their parents as it does with faculty members and administrations.

In the early 1960s, half of all Catholic children attended Catholic grade and high schools. The 10 percent or so who went on to college had some 300 Catholic colleges and universities to choose from — more, in fact, than in the rest of the world combined. Catholics were expected to attend one of these; those who wanted to attend, say, an Ivy League college often had to get permission from their pastor.

Today few Catholic students or parents are likely to choose a Catholic university if Princeton or Stanford is an option. A Catholic higher education, in other words, is less prized by many Catholic parents — including complaining conservatives — than the name on the college diploma.

Another difference is this: Well into the 1960s, Catholic college freshmen arrived with a knowledge of the basics of their religion — enough, at least, to question the answers they were given as children or, among the brighter students, to be challenged in theology classes toward a more mature grasp of their faith.

Most of today’s Catholic students, however, have no such grounding. Even the graduates of Catholic high schools, theology professors complain, have to be taught the fundamentals. As one Methodist theologian at Notre Dame wryly put it, “Before I teach my course on marriage I have to tell them first what their own church has to say on the subject.”

No question, Catholic colleges were more “Catholic” then than they are today. Most were small campuses with a liberal-arts curriculum, making it easy to weave theology into the classroom mix. Most teachers were Catholic and many were priests and nuns.

The ’60s changed all that. In 1966, the American Council on Education issued a study that failed to uncover a single Catholic university with a “distinguished or even strong” graduate department. This prompted Msgr. John Tracy Ellis, a leading American Catholic historian, to suggest a radical consolidation: American Catholics should support no more than three Catholic universities, one on each coast and one in between.

Ellis knew it would never happen, given the independence of each university. Yet his pronouncement prompted a contest among Catholic universities in the hope of surviving the final cut. The rush was on to upgrade faculty and facilities, which meant competing for the best teachers and students regardless of religion. Then there was the Second Vatican Council’s urging Catholics to embrace the modern world. This prompted many priests and nuns to abandon Catholic institutions to work “in the world,” further accelerating the need for lay faculty members. Faculty strikes over academic freedom at Catholic universities led many to turn control over to lay-dominated boards of trustees.

Led by the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, the longtime president of Notre Dame, Catholic educators redefined the relationship between church and university. As Father Hesburgh adroitly put it, a Catholic university is the place “where the church does its thinking.” Learning, in other words, is not indoctrination.

Since those transformative years, the number of Catholic colleges and universities has declined by a third. Some secularized, cutting all ties to the church, in order to survive. Others, especially those for women, closed their doors for lack of applicants. Many more grew through compromise: though nominally Catholic, they offered theology as not much more than a series of selections in a menu of course options.

America can still boast of a monopoly of the world’s best Catholic educational institutions. Some are small liberal-arts colleges that have preserved or reinvented classical Catholic humanism. Others are more sectarian, fashioned in reaction to the demand for orthodoxy by John Paul II. A few universities like Notre Dame (my alma mater) have attained elite status while remaining manifestly Catholic.

I hope Pope Benedict will keep this diversity in mind when tomorrow he discusses the issue of institutional identity. I hope, too, that someone in his entourage will point out that there are more Catholic students at many of the big public universities in the Midwest than at any Catholic college. They are there by choice, their own or that of their parents.

What these students and their teachers need is a vision of what it means to be an educated Catholic, not just a lecture on preserving Catholic institutional identity. If Benedict can manage that, his words will be worth remembering.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

job opportunities

I know this is not a job board, and I hope it will not become one, but I will ignore that for now and post this job opening, which at least relates to this blog:

The Collegiate Network, which sponsors the Irish Rover, is hiring. We're looking to fill a couple positions, especially a Professional Development Director. It's an exciting job, and the duties and responsibilities will be tailored to whomever we think would best contribute to the work of the CN as we expand our internship and fellowships to venues around the country. There will be periods of frequent travel, including an annual summer trip to Prague for our Geo-Strategic Journalism Course and frequent trips to Washington to oversee our Journalists Saloons and other events. Enjoy frequent contact with major newsmakers and rising stars in journalism. If so desired, the Professional Development Director will be encouraged to pursue freelance writing opportunities on the side. For more information, contact Joe Lindsley at

Russert Salutes WFB at Notre Dame

From Bob Costa via Phi Beta Cons at NRO:
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Tim Russert, Washington bureau chief of NBC News and moderator of Meet the Press, described the late William F. Buckley Jr. as an “extraordinary, complicated, intelligent, singular force in American life” on Monday in a lecture at the University of Notre Dame honoring late New York Times reporter Walter W. “Red” Smith. Russert added “I think that when we find that, we should salute it.”

Russert shared personal anecdotes of Buckley during the audience’s question period following his address on American journalism in front of over 500 students and faculty members.

"It was extraordinary talking to him," said Russert, recalling that he sat near Buckley at past social functions, including the annual Al Smith Dinner in New York.

At the dinner table, Buckley “was someone who did not engage in long conversation,” said Russert, before noting that the late National Review editor “was the quintessential observer” who could “come back and just say something that was so spot on.”

Russert also addressed what he sees as a common simplification of Buckley’s work and thought.

"I realized the suggestion that, well, he was a conservative writer," intoned Russert, "he was far more than that."

"He was someone who was a conservative and proud of it,” said Russert, “who understood the rhythms and changes in history — that there was a race worth running in 1964 with Barry Goldwater that would probably be unsuccessful but it would lay the groundwork for a successive conservative takeover of the Republican Party, and the White House, to wit Ronald Reagan — and he was right."
Read the rest.

I was at the event last night -- very well attended with a lot of older folks who I'm guessing were from town. There were lots of students there that I recognized, however, and I was surprised to see so many groups represented. Russert, who gave the keynote at Commencement 2002, seems to genuinely enjoy being at Notre Dame, even though (as he mentioned) his son is attending Boston College.