Campus Notebook: Jesuit colleges won't support Trump's higher ed budget; program offers free textbooks

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Notre Dame, Indiana — Rafat and Zoreen Ansari of South Bend, Indiana, have given $15 million to the University of Notre Dame for a new institute dedicated to the study of world religions. The institute will be named in their honor, fully titled the The Rafat and Zoreen Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion.

According to a press release, the Ansari Institute will be a "center of public deliberation and education about all religions. In particular, faculty will study how religious teachings, traditions, history, practice and thought inform the rapidly shifting patterns of global migration, conflict and peacebuilding, political culture and human development."

The institute will be a part of the Donald R. Keough School of Global Affairs, which offers undergraduate programming and a two-year professional master of global affairs degree.

"The need for people of faith to focus on what unites us rather than on what divides us has never been more urgent," said Holy Cross Fr. John Jenkins, Notre Dame's president, in the press release. "This extraordinary gift from an esteemed local Muslim family, longtime friends of Notre Dame, will allow us to bring together scholars of the first order to foster dialogue and deepen understanding. We are immensely grateful to the Ansaris for making this aspiration a reality."

Washington – The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities announced in a press release that it does not support the Trump administration's proposed higher education budget for the 2018 fiscal year, citing its concerns for making cuts to Pell Grants, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and Federal Work Study programs.

"It has long been a bipartisan goal to help poor students develop their talents and contribute to the nation's workforce with the help of strong financial aid programs," the press release said. "As we move through the budget and appropriations process, we hope to achieve a healthier approach to campus-based aid."

According to the press release, 22 percent of students in the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities are Pell Grant recipients; 13,000 of those students are supported by the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant.

New Orleans – Four hundred newly admitted students to Loyola University New Orleans will receive free textbooks, thanks to a new partnership between the university and Follett Educational Services.

According to a press release dated March 24, Loyola launched the First Year Ignition Program, an initiative "designed to promote a successful first-year experience for Loyola students by making sure they are prepared for college and have the books they need to get the most out of their classes," focusing on "assessing student preparedness, encouraging student success and paying it forward."

The press release says the first 400 admitted students who register for and participate in an online discussion at, and submit a deposit by May 1, 2017, will earn free textbooks for the fall and spring semesters of their freshman year. However, they must return the books to the bookstore at the end of each semester.

"We are making this investment in Freshman students so that they can have a good start to their college experience, and not have to worry about the added costs of necessary items like text books, which often times come out of the family pocketbook," Laura Kurzu, Loyola's vice president of marketing and communications, said in the press release.

Belmont, North Carolina – Belmont Abbey College has launched a local, low power FM radio station, 101.5 WBAC-LP, which will reach the cities of Belmont, Mount Holly and parts of western Charlotte and eastern Gastonia. It can also be accessed through the college's website.

According to a press release, WBAC is the first Catholic radio station in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area. The station will cover campus events like athletics, arts and theatre, and rebroadcast EWTN Radio Network programing.

Aston, Pennsylvania – Chris Domes, current president of Silver Lake College, will become the sixth president of Neumann University. He will replace Rosalie Mirenda, who will be retiring July 1 after 21 years as Neumann president.

According to Neumann's press release, full-time undergraduate enrollment rose 52 percent and annual giving increased by 64 percent at Silver Lake while Domes was president. Domes has also worked at Marymount University and at St. Bonaventure University.

[Shireen Korkzan is an NCR Bertelsen intern.]

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