Put simply, Vice President for Student Affairs Erin Hoffmann Harding’s role is to make sure every student’s undergraduate years at Notre Dame are as fulfilling as hers were. “I had a really wonderful experience as a student, and I want to make sure that’s true of every student,” she said. “In a very direct sense, I’m trying to give back.” Harding said her goal is to offer the same traditional experiences that make Notre Dame special to an evolving student body. The need for greater inclusiveness, she said, was highlighted in the spring by the movement for a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) and the response to a racist incident on campus. “We really do have some more work to do in being welcoming and inclusive,” she said. “I see from our students in surveys when they graduate that they are not satisfied with the diverse experience they’re offered here.” Harding’s office is actively evaluating opportunities to expand inclusivity to both LGBT students and those of varying ethnicities, she said. “[University President] Fr. John [Jenkins] has asked our office to look broadly at the services and support that we offer to our gay and lesbian student population on campus,” she said. “Also with the ‘Call to Action’ [campaign] last year, we’re working with the student organizations to make sure those types of events don’t occur again.” The incoming class, the most diverse and international yet, is a positive sign of a trend toward a more dynamic student body makeup, she said. “I think the incoming freshman class, for example, is a really exciting thing for the University,” she said. “All of us can benefit from learning from people of different cultural backgrounds, ethnicities, et cetera.” Harding said her office intends to offer these increasingly varied students an equally broad array of opportunities, a trend that has continued since her time as an undergraduate. “Compared to when I was a student, we have so many more opportunities to find a passion and pursue it, whether that’s something like undergraduate research – which was relatively new when I was here – or study abroad, which has exploded since I was here,” she said. While Notre Dame students continue to push themselves toward their passions, Harding said she hopes the University continues to offer opportunities for balance. “If there’s one concern I have, it’s balance. When you look at the world and technology and how quickly things move, there’s so much demand on our time,” she said. “Achieve balance also – take a little time to rest. Do one thing well versus five things at a cursory level.” Part of her role, which includes oversight of the Career Center, is to help students pursue their passions after their undergraduate years, she said. “I hope that Notre Dame continues to do a lot to help students moving on,” she said. “We want to do all we can to help students find the right path. It’s a challenging market out there, so we’re doing everything we can to make sure our students are as competitive and successful as they can be.” For those students seeking more advanced degrees after graduation, Harding said she expects Notre Dame’s graduate programs to continue to grow and improve during her time at the University. “We are excited to offer additional support in this area, even as we continue to enhance the undergraduate experience,” she said. No matter what successes students reach after graduation, Harding said one of the University’s greatest roles is to instill a common set of values. “I hope this place continues to stay grounded and all [students] continue to be grounded in a set of values,” she said. “Everything starts and stops there. I think Notre Dame has done a great job there so I hope we continue with that in the future.” Keeping with the theme of moderation in student life, Harding said the University will strive to provide for all aspects of student health and well-being. “Physical and mental health are areas of increasing focus within student affairs across the country, and Notre Dame is no different,” she said. “Where we are different is that once our students are physically and mentally well, our spiritual formation, our developmental approach, is really unique. But we have to get that foundation right first.” While the University strives to provide spiritual guidance and pastoral care, Harding said she will work for an atmosphere of open dialogue and exploration. “Whatever faith you are, I want Notre Dame to be a place where students can explore – academically obviously – but also their beliefs,” she said. The spiritual and ethical foundation of the Notre Dame student experience is one unique aspect Harding said she pledges to maintain. “I will never apologize for the fact that Notre Dame is held to very high standards. I think that is one of the best things about us,” she said. “We are unique and different in that we’re trying to be the best research university in undergraduate education we can be, while at the same time remaining distinctly Catholic.” Harding said she is prepared to stand by that unique Catholic identity while considering policy issues, regardless of public criticism. “It makes us unique, different and a truly wonderful experiment in higher education,” she said. “If that brings a little attention along with it, that’s okay.” Controversial issues and media attention are a new challenge for Harding, who was most recently associate vice president of strategic planning. However, she said she did not hesitate to accept the new role and benefitted from the guidance of her predecessor, Fr. Tom Doyle. “He was wonderful, from the moment we started this transition. We met weekly in the spring and it was a different topic each week, covering everything from housing assignments to conduct and discipline,” she said. “He was a true gift and mentor.” Harding said her education will not end with Doyle’s weekly meetings. “There’s a set of professionals in this division who’ve been doing this particular work much longer than me, and I’ll continue to learn from them, and I also think we’ll learn from our student body … as our students continue to grow and change,” she said. “I have tons to learn, and hopefully listening is one of my strengths in terms of leadership style.” Whatever change manifests during her tenure, Harding said she will work tirelessly to maintain the feeling of community and good will among Notre Dame students, faculty and alumni. “Ultimately the care for the individual and that sense of community are probably most important,” she said. “No matter what changes in 10 or 15 years, I still want students graduating feeling like they were a part of something bigger than themselves.” read more
Keeping warm outside this winter may not be easy, but it is much more difficult without a winter coat.You can assist local children in staying warm this winter with “Coats for Kids.” United Way of Franklin County is collecting spare coats, hats and gloves between now and January.“Coats for Kids” locations in Franklin County include Tough of Magic Beauty Salon in Brookville, MainSource Bank in Brookville or the United Way Office.According to the Franklin County Observer, once the coats are collected they are professionally cleaned by and distributed at local schools. They can use children’s sizes between 5 and 16.Local organizations have been participating in “Coats for Kids” for 23 years. More information is available by calling United Way at (765) 647-2789.
Sergio Aguero hopes Manchester City can give manager Manuel Pellegrini a glorious send-off in the Champions League.City reached the semi-finals of the competition for the first time with a superb victory over Paris St Germain on Tuesday.Kevin De Bruyne scored the only goal of the second leg with 14 minutes remaining at the Etihad Stadium, completing a 3-2 aggregate success.It was another notable achievement for Pellegrini, who reached the last four with Villarreal in 2006 but, after winning three trophies with City, is making way for Pep Guardiola in the summer.City striker Aguero said: “It is important for (Pellegrini) and for all of us. Obviously it is important for him because he knows he won’t be here for next season so I imagine he must be very happy, very pleased. I hope we can go even further.“The confidence is there, we are in semis and anything can happen. We will be at our maximum, depending on who we play against, but we will be going all out to win it.“This was our goal, to be among the four best teams in the Champions League and now we want to keep growing.”Aguero missed a penalty after 30 minutes, the second time he has failed from the spot in his last three attempts in the Champions League, but neither he nor City dwelt on it.The 27-year-old, who still has 23 goals to his name this season, said: “Obviously it’s not nice to miss a penalty but these things happen.“I’m not on a good run with penalties but the important thing is we qualified and I will get another chance to make up for it soon.“I’m happy because the moment passed and we played very well, so we’re pleased. I have scored a lot of goals and the important thing is to get through.” Sergio Aguero with Manuel Pellegrini 1 read more
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