Lyons Hall: August 22, 2014

It is a muggy, warm day here at Notre Dame and the first year students should be moving into the hall today. The orientation staff is getting ready for the arrivals and the sidewalks are decorated with paw prints heading to the dorm.

It is great to see Lyons filling up with another class of Notre Dame students!

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Lyons Hall: August 17, 2013

Shirley and I spent today in skill development classes sponsored by Residence Life.  I was a long day.  However, classes touched on many life style issues that the Lyons ladies will face the help and assistance that should be brought to them.

One thing that I have noted over the last several days of classes is that the subject matter is gear more to care and development of our students rather than to discipline.  Many of the sessions are mechanical in nature, for example, this event occurs and then what should the response be.  However, many more were interactive and role-playing that stressed the more active give-and-take between student and hall staff.

As I mentioned before, I am very impressed with the quality and tone of the session that hall staff goes through before the first year student report to the hall.

We attended a dinner in the North Dining Hall with all of Residence Life and then attended the comissioning Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.  In both events we were with our rector, assistant rector and resident assistant.  Over time we are becoming accustomed to the community of Lyons Hall.

Our next step, and this is a big one, will be actually moving into our apartment.  The correct hardware for the bed has been delivered and installed.  It is “go” time.  That will be tonight!  I am a bit nervous and excited at the same time.

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Lyons Hall: August 13, 2013

Shirley and I attended the opening dinner for hall staff this evening in the North Dining Hall.  Rectors, assistant rectors, student resident assistants, and the staff of Student Affairs were present.  The Lyons Ladies (and their faculty residents) follow tradition and dress for special events on black and gold, the hall colors.  Shirley matched the ladies with a LBD (little black dress) and gold necklace.  I wore a black jacket and slacks with a gold shirt, black tie, and gold pocket square.  As usual, I was a thorn among the roses. I will post a picture here soon.

Most major items we need for the residence are in place.  There is one issue and that is our cat, Squeak.  He is extremely ill and is suffering from a liver infection.  He is extremely weak and is not eating or drinking.  We hope so much that he can accompany us to Lyons.  The next several days will tell.

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Lyons Hall: August 11, 2013

After a few days of preparation, Shirley and I began our journey to Lyons Hall.  My sister-in-law, Diane, and her husband, Jack (ND ’69), made the trek to South Bend from River Forest, IL to help with our move.  I am a bit uneasy with lifting items of some weight, a cautionary warning from my cardiologist, due to my open heart surgery in May.

We transferred three vehicles of items from our house to Lyons Hall and then began the task of stocking the apartment with all those incidentals such as towels, bedding, paper products, various toiletries and yes, shower tote.  That ‘tote’ is something I never dealt with in my life.  We spent a good deal of time at the nearest Bed, Bath and Beyond just wandering and buying.  Four pairs of eyes made for a more productive buying session and provided some good-natured discussions about sheet colors which I did avoid due to my color blindness.

We returned Sunday to start the process of organizing.  Shirley had selected some spreads from the Bookstore to place in the guest room and those spreads made a great addition.  Shirley brought her mom and sister, Carol, and brother-in-law, Joe, over to the Hall for the first entertaining in our new surroundings.

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Rest in Peace (Pieces) Old Friend: ND&W

I offer this brief post as an initial notice that a piece of Notre Dame history has been lost.  And it seems to be a permanent loss.

Last week I drove down Douglas Road on the north side of campus and noticed that the rail line into campus is in the process of being removed.  This caught me by surprise as there was no discussion to my knowledge with the campus regarding this removal.  It seems that the removal was to be done as fast as possible.  An article from the South Bend Tribune is available by clicking here.

For some time a few years ago the renaissance of rail service of both freight and possibly passenger service would return to Notre Dame.  However, the University took a position in line with the City of South Bend seeking abandonment.  That is the University’s prerogative.

What is forgotten in this process is the loss of a sense of history and the appreciation of the railway heritage of the University.  I have mentioned numerous times that the railroads are responsible for the building of Notre Dame as a national university.  The path to national prominence began in the early part of the twentieth century and that path was on the nation’s rail right-of-ways.

So for now, I can only say good bye to our railroad: the ND&W, the Notre Dame and Western.  That wonderful anme and reporting mark that Brother Borromeo Malley, C.S.C. always took pride in.  When asked why that name was given to our rail line, he would reply with a smile, “Sounds like a railroad.”

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Trains, Trash and the Economy

Can trains and trash predict the economy?

I wish I paid more attention to my wonderful colleagues.  One of my fellow professors, Suzanne Coshow, shared an interesting article with me.  It is an article that relates railways, trash and the economy.  What?  Apparently, the amount of waste hauled by railways is a slight leading indicator of the economy.  After looking at the article and accompanying chart I can only concur.  To access this article, click here.

To put this into perspective let me relate this brief story.  On Tuesday and Thursday mornings I join my students at the Huddle, our on campus union building, to have a bagel and coffee and share watching CNBC’s Morning Call. Although there are days I prefer to stay at home some mornings, there is nothing that gets you to campus better than a great hour or so of fun conversation with your students.  A new, big flat screen digital television is at our beck and call. 

On this day last week Norfolk Southern’s stock price was being beaten with an approximate eight percent loss.  Guidance had just been disseminated projecting car loadings will be down.  I was trying to carry a conversation with my young friends while keeping the television in sight.

Now, there is no reason to panic here.  A great friend and investment advisor of my past always told me that no one ever made a dime by panicking.  However, I must respect past history and watch for a continued degradation of car loadings and resulting loss of stock value.  Perhaps it may soon be time to reduce my rail holdings.

Perhaps it is time to start listening better to my colleagues.

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Teach in Latin, learn in a modern language

Sometimes I think I am teaching in Latin and my students are listening for a modern language.

 I shared with my students the other day a list of major corporations that I follow.  That list includes all the major North American railways along with Caterpillar, Boeing, John Deere, Chevron, Wal-Mart and McDonald’s.  When I asked them which companies they follow I hear, in order, Apple, Google, Facebook, Disney, Target and McDonald’s.  Clearly we look at business through different lenses.  I think heavy duty, long run, industrial leaders and my students see light, nimble, creative new firms. 

 Now there is nothing wrong with either of our frameworks.  However, here is the subtle, and I believe, tremendous opportunity. 

 The processes of closing this gap involves movement on both sides, During this summer my colleague, Janet O’Tousa, and I took our accounting students and some fellow faculty to a tour of a national steel processing firm with its headquarters in South Bend.  At Steel Warehouse we were surrounded by tons of steel formed to the highest tolerance by massive equipment.  Students understand the prof a bit better. 

 By starting this little blog I am experiencing communication of information in a format that I am unfamiliar.  Hey, it is not that bad.  Prof understands his students a bit better.

 The moving toward each other is a quiet and slow process.  But, my friends, it is fun and I believe a worthwhile effort.

 Let me know what you think.


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“Houston, we have a problem!”

Folks, now that I have caught your eye, we really have an image problem.

I was attending the American Accounting Association annual meeting several days ago. With approximately 3,100 registered attendees this is a rather large mass of accounting professors.

My wife, Shirley, and I decided to stop by the club on the 18th floor of our hotel to have a bit of liquid refreshment and enjoy some music. There is an outside deck with an outstanding view of the area. We actually wondered if we could get in to this venue.  We were shocked when we walked into this great dance club and there were only ten customers and over a dozen staff. I asked the bartender where everyone was. He replied somewhat gruffly, “In their rooms. We heard there was a big group coming and we needed to staff up for it. And then we hear it is a group of accountants.” Wow, I guess we lived down to those expectations!

If there is one difficulty that accounting professors face it is the preconceived image of accountants. Hollywood presents finance majors as Michael Douglas playing Gordon Gecko while accountants are parodied as Rick Moranis in “Ghostbusters.”

I think we should not view this as a depressing situation; but, rather an opportunity to laugh at ourselves, always a good start, and let our true personalities shine forth. Be the most fun, uplifting and outgoing person you can be everyday in the classroom. Lead by example. Show your students your fun side. Put your inner persona on display. The simple act of displaying a personal photo is a great start.

 Shirley and I dancing at our niece's wedding.

Good luck to us all this upcoming semester!

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