Ken Hackett, former president of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), will receive the 2012 Laetare Medal during the May 20 Commencement Ceremony, the University announced Sunday. The Medal, established at Notre Dame in 1883, is the oldest and most prestigious honor given to American Catholics. It is awarded annually to a Catholic “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity,” according to a University press release. University President Fr. John Jenkins praised Hackett’s compassion and strong commitment to worldwide outreach throughout his tenure at CRS. “Ken Hackett has responded to a Gospel imperative with his entire career,” Jenkins said in the press release. “His direction of the Catholic Church’s outreach to the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick and unsheltered of the world has blended administrative acumen with genuine compassion in a unique and exemplary way.” After serving CRS in various capacities since 1972, including a stint as its regional director for Africa and in several posts throughout Africa and Asia, Hackett was appointed president of CRS in 1993, according to the press release. He held the position for 18 years until his retirement in December. Hackett was succeeded by Carolyn Woo, former dean of the Mendoza College of Business. Hackett, a native of West Roxbury, Mass., became interested in international service when he enrolled in the Peace Corps following his graduation from Boston College in 1968 because he said “it seemed like an interesting thing to do.” Hackett’s experiences living in a Catholic mission and working in an agricultural cooperative project in rural Ghana demonstrated the “actual impact of American food aid on the health and well-being of very poor kids in a very isolated part of a West African country,” he said in the press release. After completing his Peace Corps assignment, he continued his commitment to service by beginning his CRS career in Sierra Leone, where he administered both a maternal and child health program and a nationwide leprosy control program. While serving as CRS regional director for Africa, Hackett addressed the agency’s response to the Ethiopian famine of 1984-85 and supervised CRS operations in East Africa during the Somalian crisis of the 1990s, according to the press release. During his tenure as the agency’s sixth president, Hackett oversaw the redoubling of CRS efforts to engage the American Catholic community in worldwide service work by reaching out to Catholic organizations, dioceses, parishes, and colleges and universities throughout the country. CRS also incorporated lay people into its board of directors under Hackett’s supervision. The organization, one of the world’s most effective and efficient in global relief and development, now operates in more than 100 countries with a staff of nearly 5,000, according to the press release. In addition to his service as CRS president, Hackett also served as the North America president of Caritas Internationalis, the coalition of humanitarian agencies of the Catholic Church. He continues to serve as an adviser to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and as a board member of the Vatican Pontifical Commission Cor Unum. Hackett was awarded an honorary degree from Notre Dame in 2007. He also holds honorary degrees from Boston College, Cabrini College, University of Great Falls, College of Notre Dame of Maryland, Mount St. Mary’s University, New York Medical College, Siena College, University of San Diego, Santa Clara University, Villanova University and Walsh University. The Laetare Medal is named in celebration of Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent and the day Notre Dame announces its recipient each year. The 2011 Medal was jointly awarded to Sr. Joan McConnon and Sr. Mary Scullion, founders of Project H.O.M.E. Previous recipients include President John F. Kennedy, Catholic Worker founder Dorothy Day, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin and jazz composer Dave Brubeck.
Who says mathematics and science are exclusively male-dominated areas of study? Saturday at Saint Mary’s College, nearly 80 seventh and eighth-grade girls defied this stereotype as they participated in various science labs and math-oriented activities for Hypatia Day. Hypatia Day was first organized in 1991 by Sr. Miriam Patrick Cooney, professor emerita of mathematics. Hypatia Day is meant to provide a unique experience for young girls interested in careers in math and science, director of Media Relations Gwen O’Brien said. The event was an opportunity for middle school girls from seven local counties to visit Saint Mary’s and be engaged and mentored by math and science majors, O’Brien said. With the help of Saint Mary’s students and faculty from the math and science departments, students from the surrounding Michiana and Mishawaka area received an early taste of what it is like to be a science or math major, O’Brien said.Various classrooms around the campus were used to showcase the applications of math, engineering, science and other associated fields, O’Brien said.Hypatia Day is named for the first known female mathematician, Hypatia of Alexandria, who was the daughter of ancient Greek mathematician and philosopher Theon, she said. According to legend, Hypatia’s father taught her mathematics during a period in Greek history when young, female girls were excluded from education, O’Brien said. “Hypatia knew something these girls may be figuring out: Math and science are for girls too,” O’Brien said.Associate professor of mathematics and director of Hypatia Day Kristin Kuter said the visiting middle school students were treated to a special address by this year’s keynote speaker, Dr. Tracy Kijewski-Correa, who is an associate professor and chair of the Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences Department at Notre Dame. “[She] was very dynamic, down to earth, and inspirational,” Kuter said. “She focused on empowering the young women in the audience and encouraging them to continue to pursue an education in STEM, emphasizing its power.” The remainder of the day included panel discussions between participating faculty and the girls’ parents that stressed the importance of support for the girls, who participated in hands-on sessions with Saint Mary’s math and science majors, O’Brien said. A variety of activities were put on by the math and computer science clubs, which helped the girls decode encrypted messages and code in programming language.The chemistry club had the girls make “goo” and look at different colored flames produced by various substances, and the biology and engineering clubs integrated their fundamental elements into fun games, Kuter said. “The student participants seemed to enjoy the hands-on activities, and the parents were very grateful for the information we provided about the upcoming curricular choices that should be made for their daughter to continue on to college,” Kuter said.This is Kuter’s fifth year running the event since she inherited the task from her predecessor, professor Ewa Misiolek, Kuter said.“[It is important to] encourage young women, especially those that are transitioning from middle to high school, that they can do anything, including math or science,” Kuter said.Kuter believes it is all a matter of self-confidence and self-esteem in terms of encouraging girls interested in mathematics and the sciences to continue to strive for achievement, Kuter said.“Girls need to be encouraged to persevere. They need to be told they can do it,” she said. “The stereotype that girls cannot excel in math and science unfortunately still exists in society and we need to counteract those messages at every opportunity possible, before the student disengages.“Given the research, if these girls are not encouraged, they may not have the confidence to continue.”Kuter said this year’s event was a success, and she hopes next year’s Hypatia Day will include an added session for physics students. Tags: Hypatia Day
View Comments So You Think You Can Dance finalist Carlos Garland is the latest to light up New World Stages in the off-Broadway hit iLuminate. The dancer began performances on June 23. The new 2014 edition of the show, directed, co-choreographed and co-written by Miral Kotb, opened on January 27,In addition to competing on the tenth season of the popular Fox series, Garland, along with his dance crew Systematic, won BET’s 106 & Park dance competition. He has also toured with Rasta Thomas’ dance company, Bad Boys of Dance.iLuminate, which first got attention as a contestant on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, tells the fantastical story of Jacob, a talented young artist who struggles to connect with the real world. He takes comfort in his magical paintbrush, which gives him the ability to turn the characters in his imagination into living creations. The show combines music, art, dance and technological magic to create a theatrical spectacle.