University President Fr. John Jenkins lives by two important words: faith and reason. Those principles, he said, informed his at-times controversial decisions, and will continue to guide him into his second term.Reflecting on his first term as University President, Jenkins said it’s difficult to be under the media microscope while working to clearly communicate the goals of a Catholic university.“We live in a time where there are a lot of voices out there and it’s hard in the midst of that to speak over all the noise,” Jenkins said in an interview with The Observer. “I think that one of my roles is to articulate what we are.”Most recently, last spring’s controversy over the invitation to President Barack Obama to receive an honorary degree at Commencement and the football coaching change this fall have thrust the University, and Jenkins, into the spotlight.“I think you try always to do the thing that’s best according to your deepest principles, whether eyes are on you or not, you still do that,” he said. “There’s a lot of noise and a lot of attention, but in the end it’s really simple: you just try to do what’s best, what accords with the mission of Notre Dame.”Adhering to that mission is one of the challenges for Jenkins as University President, a position he did not foresee himself holding.‘A series of steps in life’“I didn’t see myself doing this, and it wasn’t a driving ambition of mine,” Jenkins said. “It was a series of steps in life that led me here and led me to this.”Graduating from Notre Dame with a degree in philosophy in 1976, Jenkins was drawn to the priesthood and was ordained in 1983.“I think with that there’s always an element of mystery. I’ve always felt that desire for something of depth, something meaningful in my life.”That search for something more led Jenkins to “think deeply about faith and about God” and about what he was going to do with his life.“That eventually led me to think about serving people as a priest, someone who strives to bring Christ to people,” he said.After attending graduate school at Oxford and serving on the faculty at Notre Dame, Jenkins moved to the Provost’s Office. In 2004, he was elected president to succeed University President Emeritus Fr. Edward “Monk” Malloy.Jenkins said his studies in philosophy have helped him perform the duties of the Office of the President. He tells his students philosophy is “just thinking hard, thinking clearly” about important issues.“I always found them to my mind the sort of profound issues of life, of human life … and I genuinely enjoyed grappling with those issues … it just resonated with who I was,” he said, “and that’s what we do every day.” Every day challenges“My challenge every day is time,” Jenkins said. “You have all these pressures and people demand your time, so it’s always a struggle.”Serving as president of a university is a balancing act, he said. Daily meetings, traveling and full schedules leave little time for anything else.Though Jenkins no longer interacts with students in the classroom as professor, an aspect of his life he says he misses, “nothing is more important than keeping in touch with the students.”“It is one of the joys of my job to talk to students and I try to make that a part of what I do,” he said.Jenkins’ biggest challenge, however, is a positive one: “to live up to a mission that is distinctive in higher education and to realize the tremendous potential of Notre Dame in the 21st century.”Jenkins said there are three important aspects to Notre Dame’s goal: to provide unparalleled undergraduate education, to be a preeminent research university and to let the Catholic mission “inform everything we do.”“If we do all three, Notre Dame can make contributions to society and the nation and the Church that is really unique,” he said. “And my passion in this job is to make that contribution and to help Notre Dame make that contribution.”These goals will carry into Jenkins’ second term as University president, he said. “You always have to keep striving — if you’re not striving, you’re falling backwards.”He said he hopes progress toward achieving those goals is part of the legacy he leaves behind on the University, as well as making Notre Dame an important venue for debate on “important issues,” even if they’re controversial.“I hope Notre Dame can be a place where we can have those kinds of conversations and can engage people who are the leaders of our nation, the influential people of the world,” Jenkins said. “The University particularly should be a place that’s open to a diversity of views, even views that challenge us.”Jenkins’ decisions in the past, including inviting President Barack Obama to receive an honorary degree from the University, have drawn criticism from Church representatives, including John D’Arcy, former bishop of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese.While he believes “the bishop has a role in the diocese of teaching the faith” and that it’s important that he, as University president, personally remains close to the bishop, Jenkins said some decisions belong to the University.“It’s appropriate the University should make those decisions, as best we can on the principles that guide the institution,” he said. “I’m committed to working with the bishop to help Notre Dame, to help Notre Dame serve the Church and serve the diocese.” A Catholic university for the 21st century Jenkins said establishing these relationships — with the Church and with national leaders — and working toward achieving the University’s central goals, puts Notre Dame in a unique position.“The thing about Notre Dame, we’re sort of inventing a Catholic university for the 21st century,” he said. “There have been great Catholic universities, but history has changed, society has changed, universities have changed.”Undertaking the challenge to create the new Catholic university depends on Jenkins’ guiding principles, drawn from his studies in philosophy and his calling to the priesthood.“I think a Catholic university is the institutional expression of a confidence in the harmony of faith and reason — that’s why we exist. If we didn’t believe that, let’s just shut the doors and go home.”The two are not in conflict with each other, but rather inform every aspect of Notre Dame, he said.“There’s nothing more central to us. That means, the inquiring mind in the search for truth and all the challenges that involves along the way is not in conflict with a faith in God,” Jenkins said. “It is precisely that confidence in that harmony and the strength of the Catholic faith — that’s the reason why Notre Dame exists.”The coming weeks will bring the most rewarding part of Jenkins’ presidency: conferring degrees on graduating students.“Every graduation is my proudest moment, just to send people off to see how they’ve grown,” he said. “That’s why we’re here. They’re going to do great things in the world after being at Notre Dame, and that’s a great accomplishment.”
Four years after it was conceived in South Bend, HANDS, a non-profit organization that provides yearlong volunteer opportunities with the goal of high social impact, continues to offer Saint Mary’s students the chance to assist Central American countries. Three Notre Dame students from Guatemala created HANDS in the summer of 2008. Maria Bosch, Stephanie Hurst and Mariana Diaz sought a way to make a difference in their country where poverty is a huge threat. The organization “creates alliances with organizations focused on sustainable development that assist economically distressed communities in Central America,” according to the HANDS website. According to the website, staff members at HANDS work year-round to “ensure a dynamic placement of volunteers that is in line with the interests of the volunteer and one that will integrate smoothly with the developing goals of the participating organization.” Meghan Lefeld, a junior at Saint Mary’s, is the HANDS volunteer recruiter for the College. “I volunteered abroad last fall break for HANDS,” Lefeld said. “I traveled with three other girls from Notre Dame and it was an experience of a lifetime.” Lefeld and the other students lived together with a host family in Antigua, Guatemala, and helped build a house for a low-income family. “I was involved in the housing and community development part when I stayed in Guatemala,” Lefeld said. “It was hard work, but so much fun at the same time.” As a volunteer recruiter, Lefeld said she informs Saint Mary’s students about the organization and encourages them to get involved with the non-profit. “HANDS gives Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame students the opportunity to help people in need in the areas of education, housing and community development,” she said. “This is a chance for students to make a real difference in developing countries.” While Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s are currently the only schools involved with HANDS, the organization hopes to reach out to other universities in the future. According to its website, “each month, the number of volunteers, projects and organizations supported by HANDS continues to rise, strengthening its effort and dedication to promoting social responsibility and action among youth around the world.” HANDS currently boasts 180 volunteers and supports 18 projects and 12 organizations, according to the organization’s website. “HANDS is available for students to volunteer over all breaks and they can apply on the website for volunteer work as well,” Lefeld said. Job and internship opportunities with HANDS can be found at www.handsorganization.org.
Each semester, Notre Dame’s Spanish department, in conjunction with the Center for Social Concerns (CSC), offers community-based learning (CBL) courses that allow students to integrate their Spanish language learning with community service at various partner organizations in South Bend. “Any community-based learning program is going to be coming from a perspective of mutuality,” said Rachel Parroquin, director of Spanish service learning. “We’re looking for ways that are going to be helpful for the community partners but also meet the learning goals of our students.” Parroquin said student involvement in CBL programs allows for interaction with native speakers, language skill improvement and intercultural competence. “It’s almost like a mini-immersion,” she said. “Getting off campus, getting to the community, having to negotiate meaning, having to figure out ways to say things, it definitely helps them to work on strategies.” Parroquin said students in CBL programs have the opportunity to participate in activities including mentoring middle school students, reading aloud with preschoolers in Spanish and participating in a Latino outreach program through Memorial Hospital. “We try to have a variety of programs in terms of student interests,” she said. The CBL program works consistently with more than a dozen community partners, including La Casa de Amistad, El Campito, South Bend Community Schools and the Sister Maura Brannick Health Center. The impact of the CBL program on its partners has been enormous, totaling over 3,400 hours of community time in the 2011-12 academic year, Parroquin said. Parroquin said programs have experienced growth and expansion, especially youth-centered programs, such as La Casa de Amistad’s ¡Adelante! Youth Development Program. “Last spring [La Casa de Amistad] had their first group of the ¡Adelante! students that Professor [Marisel] Moreno’s classes had worked with all graduate from high school and all go on to some kind of either university, culinary school, or some kind of program with scholarships,” Parroquin said. Spanish CBL currently comprises three components, Parroquin said. At the intermediate level, about 10 to 15 percent of students choose to participate in a CBL program to satisfy the experiential learning component of their Spanish requirements. This semester, Parroquin teaches a new class titled “Language, Culture and Community” that requires students to commit to a minimum of 10 hours of service. “The focus of this class has to do with immigration issues, looking closely at the South Bend community and how it’s impacted by immigration,” she said. “What are the issues that the Latino community, recent immigrants especially, have to face?” At the senior level, Moreno teaches “Migrant Voices: Latino Literature through Service-Learning” and “Race and Ethnicity in U.S. Latino Literature,” both of which require two hours of community service per week. Parroquin said the Spanish department’s Community-Based Learning program continues to grow with the help of the CSC and will be adding new courses in the future.
Approximately 16 Notre Dame students from Bangladesh are standing in solidarity with their nation from more than 8,000 miles away. Protests broke out across Bangladesh on Feb. 5 after Abdul Kader Mullah, the leader of the country’s largest Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami, received a sentence of life in prison for crimes committed during the war for liberation from Pakistan in 1971, according to Time Magazine. Jamaat-e-Islami members collaborated with Pakistan to perpetrate widespread rape, mass killings and a push against intellectuals, also according to Time. Graduate student Tahsin Ahmed said many Bangladeshis thought the life sentence was not sufficiently severe. “People thought that if somebody is given [a] life sentence for doing this sort of crime, then other crimes, like normal murders and other rapes, they don’t have justification for giving … capital punishment,” Ahmed said. “Their goal was to protest against that.” Ahmed said Mullah should receive the death penalty because not only did he help plan Jamaat-e-Islami’s crimes, but he also participated in them. “If someone who is actually involved in a crime is not given the capital punishment, what will happen to the other people [who only planned the crimes]?” Ahmed said. Graduate student Rumana Reaz Arifin agreed a life sentence was inadequate. “It has been preplanned, it has been organized, it has been cold-blooded and it has been executed,” Arifin said. “It’s not just a murder. It’s a genocide.” Ashraf Khan, also a graduate student, said although Mullah’s sentencing instigated the nationwide protests, the focus has expanded to calling for justice for all people accused of war crimes in 1971. Ahmed said the movement is “very nonpolitical and nonviolent.” Forms of protest have included a candle vigil on Valentine’s Day, flying the national flag, singing the national anthem in schools and observing silence for three minutes nationwide, Arifin said. She said many protests occur in Shahbagh Square in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, but they are taking place in cities across the South Asian nation. “If you think about [the fact that] the whole country is raising their voice or showing their protest for one single thing, then it’s really a mass upheaval,” Arifin said. To express support for the activists, the Notre Dame students from Bangladesh held a symbolic protest Feb. 8 in front of Main Building. Ahmed said the group arranged candles in the shape of the Bengali numerals for “71” to express respect for the people murdered in 1971. “It shows we are with them,” Ahmed said. “We gathered in front of the Dome. We all get together and show our protest with posters, both in our own language and English to show that we want … capital punishment [for the war criminals].” Bangladeshi students at other American universities are also expressing protest, Ahmed said. Arifin said the Notre Dame students from Bangladesh wanted the University community to know about the situation in their country, especially because the Congregation of Holy Cross runs Notre Dame College in Dhaka. She said the group could create an informational exhibition if community members were interested in learning more. “If somebody wants to know more, then we can show more,” Arifin said. “We can tell them about the history.”
With 247 posts by several regular writers, it was, as Stanton put it, a “liberal voice on campus.” In the next few years, however, the blog declined and became almost inactive, with a total of three posts in 2012, he said. Now, Stanton said Lefty’s, as it is often called, is back with a new staff and an updated design. The site relaunched Sept. 29 with a series of posts about the issues surrounding the recent federal government shutdown. With the reboot, Stanton said the staff hopes to expand the scope of the blog by creating an online forum and posting events and polls as well as regular opinion pieces from a liberal perspective. “We want to make it a resource that progressives across campus can turn to to know what’s going on, to know what’s on people’s minds,” Stanton said. After interning in Washington D.C., Henry Vasquez, a 2010 Notre Dame graduate, started Lefty’s. It was, Vasquez said, a reflection of the large amount of support for and discussions about progressive ideas at the time. “During those years, there was a lot going on, not just on the blog,” Vasquez said. “There were people getting together; there were social parties, tailgates, people getting involved in other activities. The line kind of blurred between other organizations on campus and Lefty’s as a separate entity. It effectively pulled all those together.” After the first editors graduated in 2010, other staff members took over. However, Stanton, who worked as an editor briefly in 2011, said in the next two years, Lefty’s could not generate enough content to be sustainable. “The editors that year sort of kept it alive, but they just didn’t get enough new writers and not enough people who could write on a regular basis,” he said. In September, Stanton and his co-editor decided to revive Lefty’s in order to bring back a voice for liberal students. “Among the Democrats, there’s definitely the feeling of not being able to speak your views, and so I think in the College [Democrats], there were some discussions about trying to start something like the blog because it had been such a great avenue for people to speak their voice and make the progressive voice heard,” Stanton said. After reworking the site’s design and pulling together a new staff, Stanton and his co-editor, along with writers Adam Newman and Tyler Bowen, began posting regularly for the first time in nearly two years. During its first week, Lefty’s Last Cry posted new content daily. According to Stanton, the goal is to post at least once every other day as it regains momentum. Several students have already signed up to write for the blog, and according to Bowen, the staff hopes to reach out to more writers, at Notre Dame and beyond. “It’s not just limited to the Notre Dame community,” Bowen said. “When [the site] gets going, we could reach out to other people in other colleges.” Contact Emily McConville at [email protected]
Saint Mary’s Belles Against Violence Office (BAVO), is calling on college students to become advocates for the Family Justice Center of St. Joseph’s County and S-O-S, the county’s Rape Crisis Center. Both are non-profit organizations, committed to offering services to victims of sexual assault, sexual abuse, stalking and domestic violence. Classes to become an advocate for the Family Justice Center and S-O-S began Jan. 27. The classes are held 6-9 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday for six weeks.Sexual assault and harassment has been brought into a greater concern and topic of issue in the recent years through new initiatives and forms of modern publicity. It is a topic of controversy and a very difficult topic to discuss for some.“One in four women and one in ten men experiences relationship violence in their lifetime,” BAVO director Connie Adams said. “One in six women and one in 19 men experience stalking in her lifetime. One in six women and one in 33 men have experienced a sexual assault in their lifetime.“These issues significantly impact our communities in America. Due to the impact, response services are critical to the overall health and well-being of communities.”According to Adams, volunteers are crucial to the success of these organizations. Whether they are answering the 24/7 helpline or advocating and supporting victims seeking medical care and forensic examinations at a local hospital, their families and friends. Adams said volunteers also answer phones and complete intakes for clients at the office. They manage social media accounts and help plan, organize and advertise awareness at fundraising events.According to the Family Justice Center website, the organization was established under the administration of George W. Bush as a part of the Family Justice Center Initiative. There are fifteen different centers nationwide including the one in St. Joseph’s County which opened its doors in 2007 to help eradicate all forms of domestic violence. The goal of this initiative is to improve victims access to services.The number of instances of domestic violence and sexual assaults in St. Joseph’s County is significant, Adams said. Local police respond to approximately 8,000 domestic violence calls a year, according to the Family Justice Center website. The Department of Justice speculates that over half of partner violence is not reported to authorities. Overall the Department estimates that there are a total of 16,000 unreported and reported incidents within the county lines each year. According to the Center’s website, victims come from all different social statuses, races and religions. Even so, statistics reveal that most victims are women and most have children.Adams said students will find there are many benefits to volunteering to become an advocate.“It can be a powerful experience contributing to Michiana beyond our campus walls,” Adams said. “For those interested in helping professions, it’s also great exposure to support services.”Tags: BAVO, domestic violence, Family Justice Center, National Stalking Awareness Month, rape, rape crisis center, S-O-S, sexual assault, St. Joseph’s County, Stalking
The Campus Life Council (CLC) met Monday afternoon for a presentation and discussion on the Green Dot program, a violence prevention strategy that seeks to change the culture of communities, such as a college campus. The CLC provides a forum for students, rectors and administrators to discuss matters that are affecting students affairs and includes two subcommittees: diversity inclusion and alcohol culture.Christine Gebhardt, director of the gender relations center (GRC), offered an overview of the program to council members. She said the program promotes an effective model that focuses on the gradual change of culture.“Change does not occur with one huge event,” Gebhardt said. “Oftentimes, history will point back to a huge turning point as an event, but it can actually trace back the little ripples that created a tidal wave to try to change something.”The Green Dot program has two cultural norms, Gebhardt said. These are important because as the culture changes, there shouldn’t be as great of a need for bystander intervention.“Not only do we need to look at what happens at parties on Friday nights and help you guys become great bystanders, but more importantly we need to create a culture that when students come to our campus, they know violence is not okay and that everyone needs to do their part to send the message about our new cultural norms,” she said. Gebhardt said Green Dot stresses the importance of changing the culture, one decision at a time, until it becomes the norm without prompts. “The point where people do something because of the culture around it is the point called critical mass,” she said. “We’ll know that we’ve changed our culture when 15 percent of our student body have been bystander trained by Green Dot. When we have 15 percent, we will have hit critical mass, which indicates enough people have bought into the message and are willing to live out the message.”Council members discussed the program after Gebhardt’s presentation, highlighting the assets of the model. Senior Chizo Ekechukwu, diversity council representative, said she liked the Green Dot model because it did not demand students to change as much in their daily lives.“I think this applies directly to both of our subcommittees, especially alcohol culture,” she said. “It’s a thing we can all do daily and over the weekend, making sure we’re taking care of people and not just saying we’re going to completely fix the problem right now, but thinking of changing in small ways first and things that are easier to do if people aren’t sure how to help.” Gebhardt said the Green Dot program is most effective when it’s accepted by a large population. “It doesn’t become one group’s initiative, it becomes a message of a community,” she said. “No one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something.” Tags: Campus Life Council, Gender Relations Center, Green Dot, Student government
Jocelyn Viterna, associate professor of sociology at Harvard University, delivered a lecture on the interdisciplinary field of development, sponsored by the Kellogg Institute on Tuesday afternoon. She spoke about the history and “identity crisis” of the field and on how a renewed interest in the field is allowing development to once again gain prominence in sociology. “At the close of World War II, everybody was asking these questions: Why are some countries poorer than others and what can be done to raise the standards of living for everyone?” Viterna said. “Answering these questions was thought to be necessary by both scholars of academic institutions as well as by politicians.” Viterna said the dependency and world system theory started losing credit during the 1980s, causing many sociologists in that field to become less welcoming to interdisciplinary work and research. A lot of people who were researching related disciplines described themselves as working with another subfield. “Development sociology had a sort of identity crisis within its own discipline,” Viterna said. “Sociologists like to complain that we have practically zero presence in a lot of development institutions, but I think sociologists have to own up to the fact that although we have very important things to say, we didn’t exactly make ourselves easy to find.” The discrediting of the dependency and world system theory also gave way to what some scholars call “the new consensus.”“‘The new consensus’ is that there’s not a grand new theory, there’s not a grand new explanation of ‘what is development,’” she said. “Now what we’re finding is there is consistent relevance of certain factors — these are these are institutions, social divisions human capital and targeted interventions affected.”“The new consensus” is multidisciplinary, but, according to Viterna, it draws heavily from sociological concepts, such as institutions, mobilization and transnationalism. “If you look at the scholarship on institutes and sociology, institutions themselves are fundamentally cultural,” she said. “But the idea of institutions is that they are these durable structures of knowledge. They embody norms and practices and because we have these institutions that reduce the uncertainty of human interaction and problems of coordination.”Viterna also said many scholars are concerned with how the mobilization of resources function, specifically with how they encourage competition between developing areas and are used by institutions to coerce participation. She mentioned one agency that would only provide resources if enough women held positions on a local council. “There’s this idea that we’re empowering women by ensuring that 50 percent of the positions are filled by women, but we have to acknowledge that this is coerced participation and we don’t know what the consequences of that are,” she said. “Coerced participants are never as ideologically committed as those who do it for more intellectual, more philosophical reasons.” Tags: Jocelyn Viterna, Kellogg Institue, sociology
Lauren Weldon Notre Dame International (NDI) is implementing a new policy beginning in the fall 2016 semester, under which the University will no longer pay airfare for students studying abroad during a semester. This change allows more students to study abroad.Tom Guinan, associate vice president for administrative operations for Notre Dame International, said this change was made in an attempt to increase acceptance rates for students applying to study abroad.“86 percent of applicants got offered acceptances into the program this year, and we were down, you can see from just two years ago, it was closer to 70 percent, which is terrible,” Guinan said. “For kids who are qualified and able to go, we did not want to turn away 30 percent of the students … Our goal is to have 90 percent or more acceptance, with the limitations being just capacity in a program.”Junior Frank Wamsley, who, along with Guinan, gave a presentation about this change to the student senate in November, said the lower acceptance rates were due to NDI’s budget not being increased in the past several years while the cost of sending students abroad has risen.“The amount of money that Notre Dame International gets to send students abroad has stayed the same, however, the costs for sending students abroad … have gone up over the years, and as a result, they’ve had to decline more people in the application process,” Wansley said. “[Guinan] and his team at NDI decided that the one thing that they could foresee cutting out and having the least amount of impact was the cost of the overseas flights.”Cutting airfare not only made sense in comparison to other expenses covered by the University, Guinan said, but it also would fit more with the policies of other schools throughout the country.“We found that really there are no other schools that actually fund airfare the way we had in the past, and I think it was something that we had been interested in looking at,” he said. “When we were looking at ways to have more resources to send students abroad, there were three things that we considered … One was tuition that we pay to the school, one was lodging and one was airfare.”Guinan also said the possible ramifications of this policy for students who may not be able to afford overseas flights were carefully considered before making a final decision.“Just based on the fact that the summer programs are so popular and the students pay airfare for summer programs, we said let’s see if there’s a way that we can make sure the students who are on financial aid aren’t cut out of it because of the airfare component,” he said. “As long as we can assure that the financial aid’s available to the students, we think we should be able to kind of have a win-win situation where the cost of the plane ticket will actually be able to send 35 to 40 more students abroad a year.”While he understands and supports NDI’s decision now, Wamsley said he wishes the administration had been clearer with students about the decision-making process.“I think something that’s lacking in the administration’s decision-making is how they’re going to relay news and information that pertains to students to the students,” he said. “Whether it’s holding a town hall meeting to explain big changes that apply to students or using the student senate and Hall Presidents’ Council…I think that the administration ought to find more ways to convey the reasons for the things they do with the student body.”Sophomore Meghan Santella, who will be studying abroad at Trinity College in Dublin during next fall said she would have appreciated more of an explanation for the change.“We got an email over the summer, I think, and then I didn’t really think too much about it, but I didn’t understand why they were doing it,” Santella said. “I feel like if [NDI] explained [the reasoning], that would’ve been more beneficial for them.”Santella said despite the change, having to pay for the airfare didn’t affect her decision to study abroad.“I wasn’t going to not do it because of [the airfare],” she said. “Notre Dame’s so good to me for financial aid, just in general, that honestly, if they won’t pay airfare, it’s not a big deal, they’re already doing so much for me.”Guinan emphasized his hope that acceptance levels won’t be affected by any extra costs and students will seek help, if necessary.“I’m excited that we were able to send out so many acceptances, and I hope that the students are excited, as well,” he said. “The acceptances or the decisions from the students are actually due on Monday, and [we] expect that we’ll see 800 plus acceptances or that most of the students will accept.”Tags: airfare, NDI, Notre Dame, Notre Dame International, study abroad
Saint Mary’s hosted nearly 600 participants Friday in its Introduction to Pivotal Response Treatment workshop in O’Laughlin Auditorium. Courtesy of Michael Waddell Bob Koegel, a researcher who developed Pivotal Response Treatment, addresses attendees of Saint Mary’s workshops aimed at promoting awareness and fostering education about autism.Stanford University researchers Bob and Lynn Koegel, who developed Pivotal Response Treatment — an approach to autism intervention that targets certain aspects of development, rather than individual behaviors — provided level-one certification for participants upon completion of the workshop. “One of the things that’s really important in this community is that we have a lot of really talented people who are thirsting for knowledge about the most cutting-edge approaches to working with individuals with autism,” Master of Autism Studies faculty fellow Joshua John Diehl, said. “And so, by setting up something like this, it’s creating opportunities that this community wouldn’t otherwise have.” This event was made possible by collaboration among the Master of Autism Studies program, the department of communicative sciences and disorders, LOGAN Autism Services — a learning center that offers education and resources to individuals with developmental disabilities — Special Friends of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s and the Students Supporting Autism group. Pivotal Response Treatment provided the workshop free-of-cost and only required registration to partake in the training, Diehl said. “If any individual that came to this conference were to want to get this training, it would cost them about $3,000 apiece,” Diehl said. “So the fact that we can get so many people trained and enrich people from all different disciplines, it makes a huge impact on the community.”Diehl said the financial burden lifted by this workshop contributed to the incredible turnout. “As far as I know — and I have talked to people at LOGAN, and I have been here for a decade — there has never been disability-related training of this magnitude in this area ever,” Diehl said. “The number of people that attended and were affected at no cost is just phenomenal.”Director of the Master of Autism Studies program, Michael Waddell, said he was aware there would be community interest, but the turnout almost doubled what he had anticipated. “All of the reports that I received [Friday] talking to people during the event and after the event indicated that they had a really good experience, that they enjoyed being on campus at Saint Mary’s and that they thought this training would be very beneficial for them in their various schools and clinics and other organizations in the community,” Waddell said. In having a larger turnout than first anticipated, event planning needed to account for potential difficulties, Waddell said. “There was an awful lot of thought and planning that went into the event, and we tried to anticipate every kind of problem that might arise,” he said. “Because there was so much thought put into the planning, I think we had measures in place to address just about every need that there was.” Waddell said while the particular benefit to the participants varies, he sees two major benefits that attendees received. “I think for some people, it was really beneficial to understand the sort of theory that underpins Pivotal Response Treatment, and then to be introduced to the scientific evidence base for the success of that theory in providing autism intervention,” Waddell said. “For other people in the audience, what was probably most beneficial was the fact that in addition to giving us the theoretical underpinnings and the scientific evidence for the efficacy of Pivotal Response Treatment, the Koegels also gave a lot of concrete, practical suggestions about ways that you could implement Pivotal Response Treatment in schools, in clinics, even in home and out in the community.”Pivotal Response Treatment in particular has a “broad applicability,” Diehl said, as it acknowledges both the needs of both young children and adults. “What’s great about this particular approach is that it comes across disciplines in a language that people can communicate across disciplines,” Diehl said. “Not only that, but it is a kind of approach that can be used by family and loved ones in their work with their loved one who has autism.”Waddell said this program fills a need created by the increasing diagnoses of autism in children. In the future, the Master of Autism Studies program intends to continue to host a couple workshops a year to address this growing need, he said. “In a situation where autism is becoming common in society, obviously there is tremendous need for understanding autism and providing the best services for autistic people and their families,” Waddell said. “The only way that that is possible is if we are providing the best training and the best education about autism and about autism interventions. So really, this is something which is an essential part of responding to the social phenomena of increasing need for understanding and serving autistic individuals and their families.”Tags: koegel, LOGAN, Logan autism services, logan center, master of science in autism, pivotal response treatment