Friday Week: May 29

Author: Andy Fuller

Visa flags
A backlog of visa appointments has delayed international students hoping to enroll at Notre Dame.

by Paul J. Browne

The Visa Backlog

As the coronavirus struck internationally, foreign students planning to enroll at Notre Dame this coming fall were stymied.  Many American consulates were closed as the pandemic peaked in various countries.  As a result, international students were unable to schedule the customary interviews that are part of the visa application process.  As consulates reopened, they faced a backlog of thousands of requests from students hoping to enroll at American colleges and universities this fall.

They included first-year and graduate students determined to enroll at Notre Dame.  In seeking the State Department’s assistance, Father Jenkins contacted Secretary Michael Pompeo today, writing in part that:

“Approximately 400 international first-year students and graduate students who Notre Dame expected to enroll have been seriously delayed.  Some academic departments will lose more than half of their incoming cohort of graduate students if visa appointments are not scheduled in the next few months.  This will affect research and the diversity and quality of thought in the classroom.

“Further, we will have no Fulbright Scholars on campus this fall unless the situation is rectified. Notre Dame is one of America’s leading Fulbright universities, both in sending Americans abroad and hosting foreigners here.  I ask that you help us in continuing the storied success of public diplomacy that the Fulbright program has come to represent.”

Full letter here.

In these challenging times…

Father Jenkins and Shannon Cullinan, Executive Vice President, wrote to Notre Dame staff today to advise them of a detailed communication by Provost Tom Burish and Provost-Elect Marie Lynn Miranda to the faculty about plans for the fall semester.

They also reminded staff members that, “if you are currently working remotely, please continue to do so until additional guidance is provided by your manager. Staff members are likely to return to campus at different times, depending on their roles and responsibilities. Some staff members may continue to work remotely as their role allows, possibly beyond the planned reopening of campus in August.”  Link to full letter here.

We now write about the future…

Provost Tom Burish and Provost-Elect Marie Lynn Miranda wrote to the faculty this afternoon to provide more information about the University’s plans to resume in-person classes in August:

“We now write about the future. We hope that you have all read the plans for the fall semester Fr. John outlined in his recent letter. We write to provide additional background on the motivation for the University’s decision to reopen in August, explain some of the many health and safety protocols that are being put in place, and outline the potential impact on the work of the academy and the steps we are taking to support you in adjusting to those impacts. Very importantly, we also write to solicit your suggestions on ways that we can improve these plans and systems to better serve our core missions of teaching and research. This is a long email, which we also attach as a searchable pdf.”  Link to full letter.

Guided by Principles

After The New York Times reported that Notre Dame was among the first major universities to announce reopening in the fall, it published an essay by Father Jenkins about the considerations that led to his decision.  In the oped piece, published Tuesday, Father Jenkins said, in part:

“Our decision to return to on-campus classes for the fall semester was guided by three principles that arise from our core university goals. First, we strive to protect the health of our students, faculty, staff and their loved ones. Second, we endeavor to offer an education of the whole person — body, mind and spirit — and we believe that residential life and personal interactions with faculty members and among students are critical to such an education. Finally, we seek to advance human understanding through research, scholarship and creative expression. “

Read full oped here.

Q&A: Student Body President Ingal & Student Affairs Vice President Hoffmann Harding

With the University’s return to in-person classes on August 10, Rachael Ingal ‘21, President of the Notre Dame Student Body, posed questions in an interview with Erin Hoffman Harding, Vice President for Student Affairs. Student leaders had gathered questions from students, took responsibility for recording the session and posted the interview on social media.

You can watch it here.

Handled with Care

On Sunday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend, Abby Kiernan and classmate Adriana Pérez were loading boxes into an SUV parked behind Breen-Phillips Hall.

They were wearing facemasks.  Abby’s mom, Kristy Kiernan, also in a facemask, checked the time.  They had a total of four hours to move Abby and Adriana’s belongings out of the residence hall and depart.  “We have an hour and 40 minutes left,” Kristy said.  “I think we’ll be fine.”

It was anything but the usual Memorial Day holiday weekend at Notre Dame. 

Link to full story in Notre Dame Magazine.

Vaccine Mapper

The COVID-19 pandemic has led an unprecedented number of groups to begin developing coronavirus vaccines.  To track this response, researchers at Notre Dame’s Center for Research Computing are recording details about the coronavirus vaccine candidates currently in development as well as the progress of those candidates via a new interactive online tool.  Dubbed the Vaccine Mapper, the free tool allows visitors to visualize everything from where the vaccines are being developed to their pre-clinical or clinical stages of development. 

Link to story here.

Paul J. Browne is the vice president for public affairs and communications