Faithful Faculty

NOTRE DAME OBSERVER, Oct. 11 — Notre Dame University is taking concrete steps to enhance its Catholic identity.

In late September, university president Father John Jenkins announced that the Indiana school is seeking to raise the percentage of faculty who are Catholic. Currently, less than 54% of the faculty is Catholic.

To help achieve its goal, Notre Dame has created an office to identify Catholic scholars. Headed by Father Robert Sullivan, the office has assembled a database containing the names of Catholic academics who are potential candidates for faculty posts.

Jean Ann Linney, a Notre Dame vice-president and provost, told the Observer that the effort to recruit Catholics is a “re-articulation” of the university’s basic goals.

Said Linney, “Across the university there is attention now — but it’s not that it wasn’t there in the past — but more heightened [attention] perhaps, as to who we’re hiring and whether they are Catholic or not.”

Katrina and Villanova

TIMES-PICAYUNE, Oct. 15 — Villanova University alumni and students are helping Louisiana rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, according to the New Orleans daily.

A group of 26 alumni from around the country worked for a week this month for the Habitat for Humanity affiliate in Slidell, La., helping to build homes for residents who were left homeless by Katrina.

And after the alumni completed their volunteer stint Oct. 7, they were replaced with a crew of Villanova students — the third contingent of students to travel to Slidell from Philadelphia since the hurricane struck last year.

The Times-Picayune noted that Villanova leads the nation’s colleges in supporting Habitat for Humanity projects.

“This year, the university was recognized for having the most participants in the Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge,” the newspaper reported. “Not only did Villanova top the list of 246 academic institutions, the university led the rest by at least 160 students.”

Court Backs Gannon

ASSOCIATED PRESS, Oct. 11 — Gannon University has won another round in its court battle against an ex-nun who claims she was improperly forced to resign as the school’s chaplain.

Last month, a three-judge panel of the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals said that the “ministerial exception” that protects religious organizations barred the court from considering claims filed against the Catholic university by Lynette Petruska.

Petruska claims she was forced to resign in 2002 because she is a woman and because she helped expose allegations of a cover-up of an affair involving a priest.

After last month’s decision, Petruska asked for a rehearing of her case by all the 3rd Circuit Court’s judges.

On Oct. 10, the court announced that it had rejected Petruska’s application and was standing by the earlier decision upholding Gannon’s religious-freedom rights.

Steubenville Honors

FRANCISCAN UNIVERSITY OF STEUBENVILLE, Oct. 5 — The Fellowship of Catholic Scholars has awarded its Cardinal Wright Award to Franciscan University of Steubenville bioethics professor Patrick Lee.

The award is presented annually to a Catholic scholar who has rendered outstanding service to the Catholic Church by integrating faith into scholarship of the highest quality.

Lee was honored at the fellowship’s annual convention last month in Kansas City, Mo.