On Research, Universities, and the Love of Dogs—Marie Lynn Miranda, Notre Dame

Marie Lynn Miranda
Photo credit: Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame

Episode Notes

If you’ve listened to any of our first 50 or so episodes, you may have heard host Ted Fox say at the end that “With a Side of Knowledge is a production of the Office of the Provost” here at Notre Dame. You also may have wondered:

What exactly is a provost? If so, it’s your lucky day.

The provost is the University’s chief academic officer. And we’ve chosen this episode, our season four premiere, to tell you that because you’re about to hear from Notre Dame’s new provost, Marie Lynn Miranda.

Marie Lynn succeeded Tom Burish on July 1, but she spent the several months before her official start date getting to know her new university and helping Notre Dame navigate the myriad challenges presented by the coronavirus.

Like so many here and elsewhere, a lot of Marie Lynn’s time these days continues to be devoted to how to best meet these challenges. But as she noted in the course of our conversation, she doesn’t want the demands of the moment to keep Notre Dame from also attending to its broader mission as a university.

We thought about this interview in much the same way, wanting to give you a chance to get to know Marie Lynn Miranda the award-winning teacher, the founder of the Children’s Environmental Health Initiative, and most definitely the person, in addition to the chief academic officer at Notre Dame.

That meant talking to her about not only what she could take from being provost at Rice University during Hurricane Harvey and apply to leading during a pandemic, but also about why she loves her dogs so much. We covered her ongoing and active research in public health—including an Indiana COVID-19 registry you can find linked below—as well as the time she quoted A League of Their Own to her son’s Little League team. We also discussed institutional diversity and inclusion … and how she still trades emails with Coach K at Duke.

As for her Notre Dame story, that actually started some 60 years ago.


Episode Transcript

*Note: We do our best to make these transcripts as accurate as we can. That said, if you want to quote from one of our episodes, particularly the words of our guests, please listen to the audio whenever possible. Thanks.

Ted Fox  0:00  
(voiceover) From the University of Notre Dame, this is With a Side of Knowledge. I'm your host, Ted Fox. Before the pandemic, we were the show that invited scholars, makers and professionals out to brunch for informal conversations about their work. And we look forward to being that show again one day. But for now, we're recording remotely to maintain physical distancing. If you like what you hear, you can leave us a rating on Apple Podcasts or wherever you're listening. Thanks for stopping by.

If you've listened to any of our first 50 or so episodes, you may have heard me say at the end that "With a Side of Knowledge is a production of the Office of the Provost" here at Notre Dame. You also may have wondered, what exactly is a provost? If so, it's your lucky day. The provost is the University's chief academic officer. And I've chosen this episode, our season four premiere, to tell you that because you're about to hear from Notre Dame's new provost, Marie Lynn Miranda. Marie Lynn succeeded Tom Burish on July 1, but she spent the several months before her official start date getting to know her new university and helping Notre Dame navigate the myriad challenges presented by the coronavirus. Like so many here and elsewhere, a lot of Marie Lynn's time these days continues to be devoted to how to best meet these challenges. But as she noted in the course of our conversation, she doesn't want the demands of the moment to keep Notre Dame from also attending to its broader mission as a university. I thought about this interview in much the same way, wanting to give you a chance to get to know Marie Lynn Miranda the award-winning teacher, the founder of the Children's Environmental Health Initiative, and most definitely the person, in addition to the chief academic officer at Notre Dame. That meant talking to her about not only what she could take from being provost at Rice University during Hurricane Harvey and apply to leading during a pandemic, but also about why she loves her dogs so much. We covered her ongoing and active research in public health--including a COVID-19 registry you can find linked in the episode notes--as well as the time she quoted A League of Their Own to her son's Little League team. We also discussed institutional diversity and inclusion ... and how she still trade emails with Coach K at Duke. As for her Notre Dame story, that actually started some 60 years ago. We'll come back to that in a bit. (end voiceover)

Marie Lynn Miranda, welcome to With a Side of Knowledge.

Marie Lynn Miranda  2:37  
Thanks so much, Ted. I'm so happy to be here with you.

Ted Fox  2:40  
So the big important question right at the start, and we were talking about it a little bit before we started recording: How are your dogs doing with the move?

Marie Lynn Miranda  2:49  
Well, the dogs have not yet moved to Indiana. But I have many conversations with them about the good life that they're going to lead because we are finally going to be able to have a little farm while we're here. 

Ted Fox  3:00  
That's excellent.

Marie Lynn Miranda  3:01  
Yeah, every time I leave from Michigan to drive here to Indiana, I'm petting them, and I have a nice little conversation about them, about how there are going to be plenty of birds for them to point, and there's going to be a pond for them to jump into when they're hot, and all those sorts of things. So we're looking forward to giving our dogs the life that they deserve.

Ted Fox  3:22  
The dogs, they are the kind of angels among us, so that's terrific.

Marie Lynn Miranda  3:27  
You know, it's interesting that you say that because I feel that these dogs make me a better person, they actually make our whole family better. They're so unconditional in the way that they love, they're so forgiving in the way that they love, they're so welcoming. Every time I come home, whether I've been gone for 30 minutes or 30 days, it was, you know, it's as if I've returned from an expedition to the Arctic. And you know, it would be good, especially during these complicated times, if we could all learn to bring that kind of love to the world.

Ted Fox  4:04  
I remember, I think he still has it, my father-in-law having a sign in his house that said, and I think I'll get it right, it was, "I want to be the person that my dog thinks I am." And it's that kinship, you're right, it really is something special. So you speak of the challenging times we're in right now. You're the fifth provost in Notre Dame's history, but you're the first to start the job in the midst of a global pandemic. And that bears maybe not quite a direct but I think it's a nevertheless interesting connection to your research because you work in public health. And there's a line that I put in your bio for the provost office website--that full disclosure, I did not completely understand when I put it in--was that you are a "leader in the rapidly evolving field of geospatial health informatics." And I was wondering if you could unpack a little bit kind of your research program generally, and what we're talking about specifically there when we're talking about health informatics,

Marie Lynn Miranda  5:03  
So health informatics is basically the whole study of collecting all kinds of different data that are relevant to health and doing advanced statistical analysis on them. Geospatial health informatics means that for every piece of data we collect, we attach a spatial location to it, and then we look at the data spread out across geography and spread out across time, and we exploit the underlying geographic structure to extract new analytical insights. So the cool thing about all of it, as much as geospatial health informatics is a mouthful, the cool thing is that all of our results get displayed as maps, and who doesn't love looking at a map?

Ted Fox  5:48  
(laughs) That's right. So I know a particular area of focus for you is children's environmental health, which led you to, when you were a faculty member at Duke, you founded the Children's Environmental Health Initiative, or CEHI; we can refer to it as CEHI, and people will know what we mean now when we say that. And it's moved with you from your days on the faculty at Duke, to your appointment as a dean at the University of Michigan, to when you were provost at Rice University, and now provost at Notre Dame. And maintaining an active research program like this, that's not necessarily something someone in a leadership position at a university does. Sometimes they say, I'm an administrator, and this is what I do. And so I wonder if you could talk about CEHI and why staying so directly involved in research has been something that's been so important to you.

Marie Lynn Miranda  6:36  
So first of all, the questions that we work on at CEHI--which are all questions of social and environmental justice: What's happening to pregnant women and young children and school-aged children? What's happening to them in our country, what kinds of environmental exposures are they experiencing? What are the social stressors that they are experiencing? What are the implications for what happens when they go to school, how well do they do there? What kinds of jobs they end up getting. All those sorts of things, their health and development. Those questions are just so compelling to me, I can't stand to not have them answered. So if you want to keep a research program going when you're an academic leader, first of all, you have to be really disciplined about your time and how you manage your time. And secondly, you have to make sure you have no hobbies. (laughs) I have no hobbies.

Ted Fox  7:34  

Marie Lynn Miranda  7:34  
And third, you have to have a really committed research team. So I've been fortunate that a number of people have actually made the move with me across all those institutions. I have an amazing group of people who work on my research team who believe so strongly in the mission of the research group. I learned a long time ago when I worked for Coach K when I was an undergraduate at Duke, he used to say, "Make the goal worthy of your team's commitment." And so we have a big goal, what we believe is an important justice goal, that drives CEHI, and the team really believes in it, and they bring their whole to it.

I would also say that as a provost, keeping my research program going means that I have better insight into the daily lives of our faculty members. So when the federal government passes a new regulatory requirement, I have to do that paperwork, too. When the Office of Research changes the way that grant applications work, well, I have to experience that myself. So it gives me this in-the-weeds, all the way down to the nitty gritty experience, at least of the research side of our faculty's lives. And I believe that helps me to be more effective as provost.

Ted Fox  8:53  
Yeah, I mean, I could see how that would be invaluable when you're in a meeting, and you're setting or having input on really high-level policies, to be able to then not just have to kind of hypothetically, or extrapolate, This is how it might affect a faculty member on the ground doing the research, but to actually still have that lived experience of, No, I know exactly how this is going to affect a faculty member doing the research.

Marie Lynn Miranda  9:18  
Exactly. And you know, in academic leadership, our jobs are to create an environment where our students and our faculty can thrive, and then get out of their way. So understanding all that nitty gritty helps us to create that environment and helps us to--or at least helps me to understand, Okay, now step out of the way, but you know, let people move forward full bore.

Ted Fox  9:45  
Right. So if I read this right, and correct me if I'm wrong on it, have you already been exploring how your work through CEHI can be leveraged here in South Bend? Because I know you've done a lot of work on lead-paint exposure in old homes, and I thought that I read that you've already kind of been exploring how that might translate here.

Marie Lynn Miranda  10:04  
That's right. So we have done an awful lot of work on childhood lead exposure in North Carolina, in Michigan, in Texas, and actually in locations all over the country. I've already been in conversations with Mark Fox, the deputy health director, about whether or not some of the modeling that we do could be useful to the town of South Bend. We also started a COVID-19 registry down in Texas, and we've been working with local health departments there providing information that is useful to them in managing COVID-19. And we're hoping to get a similar registry started here in Indiana. We're in for a bit of a long haul with COVID-19, so it's important for us to get the best and the most useful data into the hands of our decision-makers.

Ted Fox  10:48  
And I'm glad that you said that because it it segues well here. I'm going to borrow a phrase that's probably more fitting in Texas, the state where you came here from, but this isn't your first rodeo when it comes to guiding a university through a crisis. At Rice, you played a lead role in the university's response when Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in 2017. And it would be easy to sit here and point out all the ways that the coronavirus is different from a category four hurricane. We don't need to do that. But I'm wondering what you see as the similarities in those two situations and how maybe that experience that you had at Rice is informing the way you approach in particular this first year here at Notre Dame.

Marie Lynn Miranda  11:28  
Sure. You're right, they're very different crises. They are both crises, so it's pretty helpful to have been all the way through a crisis, not just the arrival of it but the major impact, and then there's always with these sorts of things, a very long tail on the impacts. With the coronavirus, as I said before, it's going to be with us for a while, we're in it for the long haul here. So that whole notion of needing to attend to the emergent, immediate questions and issues that arise, but at the same time needing to remember that there is a longer time horizon that you need to be planning for, and you need to be prepared for. So I think that's helpful. I think what was certainly true with Hurricane Harvey and is true with COVID-19, that communication to the Notre Dame community or communication to the Rice community--to explain, Here's what we're doing, here's what we understand the problems are, we're continuing to work on these issues, providing opportunities for people to observe what's going on in their own departments or in their own buildings and provide us with feedback so that we can get better and better and better. So that whole notion of two-way communication so it's not just all those weekly emails that I've been sending out, but having multiple mechanisms for people to provide feedback in. So that's common between the two. And I guess the third thing I would point to is from the get-go, even as the hurricane was approaching, even before it started raining, it was very important to us to understand where our community members were and what was going on for them. So we used these IT-based tools to stay fully connected to them--we had seven simple questions that we were asking them just so that we could keep a pulse on what was going on. And as a consequence, it helped us to shape our response programs much more effectively. For example, we just heard about the developments of how South Bend schools are thinking about opening; we clearly need to think about childcare for faculty and staff. And it's a good thing that we didn't start thinking about it today, right? We've had a working group on this issue for some amount of time. So that being clear that you care about the entire community, but you also care about each individual in the community and ensuring that people feel that they are cared for in that way.

Ted Fox  14:14  
And I would say, you know, just just to offer that even at a distance as I've been working remotely, just through the contact that I've had with the office, I've seen that in the way that you've really been proactively reaching out to faculty, and different subgroups of faculty, that I think especially at times maybe haven't always felt as heard, and I think that's an important thing. And it's a really encouraging thing, which I think is great.

Marie Lynn Miranda  14:40  
I appreciate your saying that, Ted. You know, I'll say with with humility, there's a lot more work to do in that regard in terms of making connections with faculty, and I'm looking forward to doing that. I also feel the challenge of doing that in the presence of COVID-19. So here's the thing about faculty for me: So when I think about our faculty, I think about people who are really smart and who could have made their lives or followed any number of career paths. And for every one of our faculty, they made a decision that they wanted their lives to be about advancing the knowledge frontier and training the next generation. And I find that decision completely inspiring. So if you want to be a provost, it's a really good thing to love faculty, and I really--I love faculty. The only thing that rivals that is how much I love students and learning about them, both undergraduate students and graduate students, they're at different developmental stages, their minds are just on fire with all kinds of ideas, they're growing and changing so rapidly. You know, in the four years that an undergraduate might be here or the four or five years that a graduate student, or even a couple of years in our professional degree programs, you know, over that time period, they become completely different people because of all that developmental growth that goes on. And I just think it's such a privilege to be at a university. The group that's oftentimes forgotten is this amazing group of staff, who are the people who make the whole engine of the university run, and they're full of creative ideas, too. The number of--so with this COVID-19 crisis, the number of ideas we've gotten from our staff that have been just over-the-top insightful has been really wonderful. So the whole community that's formed when you bring faculty, staff, and students together, for me, it is just the very best place to spend my time.

Ted Fox  16:52  
This staff member appreciates you saying that for sure. (laughs) So, in an interview that you recently did with Notre Dame Stories that coincided with your first day, near the end of it, they quoted you, you said--and this speaks perfectly to what we were just talking about: "The University comprises passionate faculty, students, and staff, and we need to bring all of them into the conversation about what we want Notre Dame to be five years from now, 10 years from now, and 50 years from now." And as I said, watching you, you know, build these bridges already, it's been a great thing to watch, but I also imagine that you have on your own spent some time thinking about what you'd like to see the University be and become during your time here and beyond. So as you've thought about that, what does the Notre Dame of the future look like to you, at least as we sit here having this conversation in July 2020?

Marie Lynn Miranda  17:46  
Yeah, well, 22 days in (laughs) to my job as provost, I think it's safe to say that I don't know enough to have a really clear sense of the lay of the land and what priorities might be. I will say that one of my concerns about the upcoming year is that we will be so busy dealing with the day-to-day issues that COVID-19 presents that we will forget to make progress on setting our priorities and understanding what are, you know, the truly transformative things that we could be doing at the University. It's one of the reasons that I made sure to send around this faculty survey so that I could learn about what people were most excited about in their teaching, what they're most excited about in their research, things that they think are going really well at Notre Dame, things that they want me to pay attention to. And then if they were just blue-skying it, you know, if resources weren't an issue, what's something big that you think Notre Dame should do? So I'm limited in my ability to go out and meet people face-to-face and hear all their ideas because of COVID-19, which is one of the reasons why that survey is so important to me. I do think that there are some things that I, you know, I'm beginning to see a little bit, one of them surely is making more progress on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion, ensuring that our faculty, staff, and students all the way through the ranks are more diverse. Another one is connections across schools. So ensuring that the engineering program is the best program it could possibly be, and for that to be true, it must have connections to social sciences and humanities, for example, right? So these kinds of cross-school connections, both for the purposes of educating our students more effectively, but also for developing some of the most creative ideas. With science and engineering, for example, it used to be this really bright line between who's a scientist and who's an engineer: Scientists advance basic science understanding and engineers solve problems. Well, that line has gotten a lot fuzzier, and it's a little hard to tell the difference between a computer scientist and an electrical engineer. We of course solve that problem here by having computer science in the engineering school. (laughs) But that line is fuzzier. And so we should be thinking about the work of science and engineering as a collective whole. And I'm incredibly excited about the leadership at those two schools, both at the decanal level, Trish Culligan, Tom Fuja, and Mary Galvin at the decanal level, but also at the department-chair level. So some of these connections, I think, would help advance the University's interest.

Ted Fox  20:49  
The first part of that answer you mentioned diversity and inclusion. And I wanted to ask you because as I said at the beginning, you're just the fifth provost in Notre Dame history; you're also the first woman and the first person of color to hold the position here. And if I had to guess, I would bet you've moved through a lot of rooms in the course of your career where you've been one of the few or the only person at the table who wasn't white and/or a man. And in addition to the really important issues of equity and fairness, just wanted your thoughts on how being more inclusive just simply makes our institutions stronger and able to do more by virtue of being better about welcoming people from all different kinds of backgrounds and so on together.

Marie Lynn Miranda  21:36  
So, Ted, the literature is pretty clear--a lot of it coming out of organizational behavior departments and business schools--that diverse organizations are more effective and more productive organizations. So if that's true, how come all organizations aren't diverse? Because it should happen if that's true. Well, the answer to that is, Because it's hard. So despite potential productivity gains, because it's hard, people don't necessarily create diverse organizations. So what I have observed at least to date at the University of Notre Dame is that there is a lot of openness to this idea that we should be better around issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. But there hasn't been a toolkit or sets of strategies that are widely disseminated and are made available, whether it's to faculty on a search committee for a new faculty colleague, whether it's when we're searching for, you know, a new dean or other kind of administrative leader, whether it's when we're thinking about what do we assign to our students for what they read in the classes that they're taking, etc.

So if the reason that organizations don't become diverse is because it's hard, part of what we do here is that we provide the toolkits [for] that work of making the place more diverse and making it more inclusive, right? It's not just getting people in the door, it's making sure that when people are here, they feel good about being here.

Ted Fox  23:11  

Marie Lynn Miranda  23:12  
That work needs to be supported by a set of tools, by a knowledge base that's getting disseminated out, by encouragement. It also needs to be accomplished by accountability, right? So we should be setting goals for ourselves and holding ourselves accountable against those goals at all levels of the University. And those goals need to be outcome goals. You know, lots of places like to count the number of workshops, the number of speakers that have come to campus, and the number of training sessions that we require. But the bottom line is, it's the outcomes that we care about. Have we hired more minority faculty across all of the ranks, including in leadership? Have we hired more minority staff across the ranks, including in upper and middle management? Have we welcomed more minority students at both the undergraduate and the graduate level? And then do we have a serious mechanism for assessing the experience of individuals across campus once they arrive here? So that series of serious assessment tools are part of holding ourselves accountable, as well.

Ted Fox  24:28  
Right. So I know that, and we talked about it, officially on the job for 22 days, so in a lot of ways, you're brand new to Notre Dame, but you have some important connections here, too. And you mentioned one earlier, it will be--I want you to tell the story because it's kind of a roundabout way with Coach K there, but first, I know that there were a few of them here. So I know Tom Burish, your predecessor as provost, has been both a friend and a mentor to you as you've ended up filling his position here after he left. What's that relationship been like for you?

Marie Lynn Miranda  25:01  
Oh, Tom has been a really wonderful mentor to me. He's, you know, he was widely regarded as a very thoughtful and effective provost, and I had the opportunity to meet him a few years ago, and I'm one of these people who believes that having mentors your entire career is important. And you know, having a good coach your entire career is really important. So Tom has been that. What's funny is--so today is July 22, which happens to be my youngest daughter's birthday. I'm pretty sure that the friendship between my youngest daughter and Tom is even closer (laughs) than mine. The two of them are like two peas in a pod. They're interested in similar scientific issues. He loves her sense of humor and, you know, she can kind of tweak him in ways that only really smart, respectful, but just a little bit sassy young people can do.

Ted Fox  26:03  
(laughing) That's funny. So then there's the basketball. So not only did you start your career as a faculty member at Duke, it's your undergraduate alma mater.

Marie Lynn Miranda  26:13  
That's right.

Ted Fox  26:14  
You had a pretty distinctive job there as an undergraduate, which I think--you told us the story [in the provost's office], it had kind of its own trail to Notre Dame via the coaching staff several decades later, when you maybe told Coach K that you were either thinking of coming to Notre Dame or that you had accepted the job here.

Marie Lynn Miranda  26:30  
Yeah, so when I was an undergraduate at Duke, I worked for the basketball team as a manager, and I got to know Coach K pretty well. And Coach K is one of these people, he stays in contact with all of his players, he stays in contact with all of his former managers. He's really extraordinary that way. Once you become part of the Duke basketball family, you are part of it forever. So you know, when I stepped down from the provostship at Rice because of my daughter's illness, and once she was doing better, and I then entered this process of discernment of, What do I want in the next stage of my career? I reached out to Coach K--I happened to be doing my sabbatical in Durham--so I reached out to Coach K, and I sat down with him several times to talk through, How do you make decisions like this? He was incredibly helpful to me, and I asked him about some of the places that were talking to me, were trying to convince me, and, you know, Coach K knows a lot of places because he's Coach K, right? And so he was really helpful in that regard also.

And when I finally decided on Notre Dame, he was really happy. So you may or may not know that Coach K is Catholic and really deeply tied to the Catholic community in Durham. So he was really excited about this, but he also sent me a very funny email that said, Congratulations, keep Brey in line--meaning Mike Brey (laughs), the men's basketball coach here at the University of Notre Dame. I do want to be clear that as much as I love Duke and I love Duke basketball, and I will root for Duke basketball to win, except when they're playing Notre Dame. I'm very clear about where my loyalties lie.

Ted Fox  28:15  
Well, my four-year-old daughter and I are season ticket-holders for the women's basketball team, so we ...

Marie Lynn Miranda  28:20  
Oh, so that's an interesting story, too.

Ted Fox  28:23  
Let's hear it.

Marie Lynn Miranda  28:24  
The new coach.

Ted Fox  28:26  

Marie Lynn Miranda  28:27  
The new women's basketball coach, Niele Ivey. So when I was on faculty at Duke, I had several women's basketball players who took classes with me and who were my undergraduate advisees, including a woman named Georgia Schweitzer, now Georgia Schweitzer Beasley. And in those years back in the early 2000s, back when Niele was playing, there was a lot of rivalry between Duke and Notre Dame. There still is, right? And so I remember watching Niele play because I had this student, and one of my habits is, if I have a student who sings in choir, I go to one of their choir performances. If I have a student who plays field hockey, I go to a field hockey game. So I had these women's basketball players. And I had daughters, right? And these women basketball players who are great role models for my daughters, and so we used to go to a lot of women's basketball games, and the president of the university actually invited me to travel whenever the women's team was in the Final Four. So I remember both on TV and elsewhere watching Niele Ivey playing, and I recently had both email exchanges and I had a nice Zoom meeting with Niele about how happy I was to see a familiar face, and to let her know what a big women's basketball fan I am. And I'm hoping that we'll be able to be in the stadium together. But if not this year, the next year, I'll be one of the loudest people in the stands. Well actually, that's not true. I do not cheer.

Ted Fox  30:01  
(laughs) Not a loud cheerer, right.

Marie Lynn Miranda  30:03  
And it's really funny because I have, you know, children who've played a lot of sports, and my son was even a Division I baseball player. And the only--there are only two times that I've ever said anything from the sidelines. The first one was with my son, he was about eight- or nine-years-old, he was playing in a baseball tournament. They had just about wrapped up a game that would ... [have] advanced them into the championship game for the season. They were up by three runs, they were in a good position. And there was this like complete Bad News Bears thing that happened where, you know, a ball gets hit into the outfield, it rolls through a fielder's legs, they throw it in and next thing you know, four runs have scored, they're now down by one, and they may not make it into the championship game. And so my son played travel baseball, right? So I went and saw hundreds of games, and I never said anything from the stands, but these boys were all just falling apart on the field. And my husband was the coach, and there were all these other moms who were going, It's okay, honey, you know, just shake it off, blah blah blah. And my husband is looking at these moms like, You're not helping, more of them are crying. And I'm looking at the whole thing, I stand up, and I yell: "Are you cryin'? There's no cryin' in baseball!" (laughs) That line from A League of Their Own.

Ted Fox  31:40  

Marie Lynn Miranda  31:45  
Anyway, the boys all stopped crying. (laughs)

Ted Fox  31:45  
That's perfect. 

Marie Lynn Miranda  31:46  
And my husband told me that he loved me for saying that. (laughs)

Ted Fox  31:50  
Oh, I can imagine--you're looking at all these kids like, Someone please help me, do something. (laughs)

Marie Lynn Miranda  31:54  
Yeah. Then the only other time I've ever said something from the sidelines was when my daughter, my middle, was playing soccer. And they were playing--she was on a travel team, also--she was playing this game, and there was this player on the opposing team who kept taking her legs out from underneath her, and my daughter was ending up on the grass constantly. And this other player was pretty smart about doing it when the refs weren't watching. So, you know, it was not safe for my daughter, and it was also--it wasn't good sportsmanship, or, I don't know. But anyway, I have the entire season, for multiple seasons now, been mute from the sidelines. And the one time I say anything, you know how sometimes you say something really loudly, it just so happens that the whole ...

Ted Fox  32:43  
(laughs) Everyone quiets ...

Marie Lynn Miranda  32:43  
... has gone quiet at that time? So everybody heard me say to my daughter, you know, Don't let her push you around like that, push her back. (laughs) And everybody looks to me.

Ted Fox  32:56  

Marie Lynn Miranda  32:56  
Including the refs. And so the next time, you know, this player takes my daughter's feet out from underneath her, my daughter looks at me, and I'm just standing there like this, and I go like this at her, and she takes the other player's feet underneath. But by this time, the ref is watching--you know, the person who throws the second punch always gets caught.

Ted Fox  33:15  
Always gets caught, right.

Marie Lynn Miranda  33:16  
So (laughs) the ref yellow-cards my daughter, except it was hilarious because the ref holds up the yellow card straight at me. (laughs)

Ted Fox  33:16  
Oh wow. (laughs)

Marie Lynn Miranda  33:29  
But, you know, the other player stopped and my daughter, you know--sometimes you have to stand up for yourself, and especially for women. I don't condone violence or anything like that. But it was an important lesson for my daughter about standing up for herself. 

Ted Fox  33:53  
Right. So, speaking of family, I saved maybe the most important Notre Dame connection--I know the most important Notre Dame connection--for last: your dad. I know his master's degree is, if it hasn't been hung on the wall in your new office yet, I know it is being hung on the wall in your office. And if you'll permit me to use the nickname that y'all had for him ...

Marie Lynn Miranda  34:13  
Papa Con.

Ted Fox  34:14  
What can you tell us about Papa Con?

Marie Lynn Miranda  34:17  
Yeah. So my family was able to immigrate to the United States because of a fellowship that the University of Notre Dame offered my father. And he came here, and I would say, probably more important than-- even more important than the fact that we were able to immigrate here, was the fact that we were so warmly welcomed by this community, that it formed my parents sense of what it might be like for them to make a life together with their family in the United States. So they decided to stay because of the way that Notre Dame welcomed them. And that was at a time when people who look like us were not necessarily welcomed that way. And the University did not have a doctoral program, so my dad had to go elsewhere to get his doctorate, and they did not have the same experience when he went elsewhere to get his doctorate. But they were so moved by the way that Notre Dame embraced them, and they decided that's what it meant to be embraced by this country.

Ted Fox  35:25  

Marie Lynn Miranda  35:25  
That's what living in this country was about. So I'm really grateful. I know I've had a lot of opportunities because my family decided to stay here in the United States, but I also am really grateful that Notre Dame chose to model a loving embrace of immigrants.

Ted Fox  35:46  

Marie Lynn Miranda  35:46  
That's a lesson that's surely relevant today.

Ted Fox  35:49  
Absolutely. Marie Lynn Miranda, this is--I've loved this. Thank you so much for making the time to talk to me today.

Marie Lynn Miranda  35:55  
Ted, the time's flown by. Such a pleasure to spend some time with you.

Ted Fox  35:59  
(voiceover) With a Side of Knowledge is a production of the Office of the Provost at the University of Notre Dame. Our website is withasideofpod.nd.edu.