Japan’s Empress Michiko met with USD President Mary E. Lyons at the Imperial Palace in Japan in November. The empress attended Sacred Heart University in Tokyo and was subsequently tutored by USD professor emerita Sister Helen McHugh, R.S.C.J., in English for several years. President Lyons spent an hour with the empress and delivered a letter and gift from Sister McHugh. The president was in Japan — along with Vice President and Provost Julie Sullivan and School of Business Administration professor Ellen Cook — to take part in the Inamori Foundation’s presentation of the 22nd Annual Kyoto Prizes for Lifetime Achievements in Technology, Science and the Arts. USD will take part in the sixth annual Kyoto Laureate Symposium in mid-March, when events celebrating Kyoto Laureate and international artist and designer Issey Miyake will be hosted by the university. While in Japan, the group also enjoyed what Lyons calls “a wonderful alumni reunion in Tokyo” as well as taking in of a tour of Sony headquarters.

November was busy for President Lyons, who attended a conference on “Universities and the Church’s Social Doctrine” in Rome late that month. She was invited to the event in August by Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace President Cardinal Renato Martino, who visited USD in late summer. “There were approximately 180 representatives from Catholic universities around the world at the conference,” Lyons recalls. “Many were from Africa, Asia, Indonesia, Latin America, Eastern and Western Europe, and speakers addressed the benefits of interdisciplinary scholarship in promoting the values and application of the social teachings.” She says she was most struck by the wide-ranging conditions under which Catholic universities fulfilled their missions: “That awareness reminds the more affluent and secure universities of North America and Western Europe to be ever-conscious of the challenges confronting sister institutions around the world.”

Low-income and disadvantaged youth will be served by a $120,000 grant the university was awarded in November. The three-year grant, from Learn and Serve America, will help fund a USD-led project in which college students assist in community projects that prepare young people and their families for college and the working world. “At USD we believe strongly that college attendance will endow students with the skills and knowledge that will contribute to their own intellectual growth and, eventually, to California’s economic vitality,” says USD President Mary E. Lyons. “But first we must help get those students to college.”

Some of the USD women’s basketball team’s biggest fans in the 2006-07 season are also their youngest. The Toreros adopted the kindergarten class at Bay Park Elementary School for a mentoring program. Each week the players visited campus for a physical education period in the morning with the students, followed by a classroom period when USD’s players assisted with projects designed by the teacher. The 13 Toreros rotated in groups of three or four, participating on different days to work around their own class schedules. In other news, the women’s volleyball team traveled to Gainsville, Fla. for the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament, before losing to top ranked University of Nebraska. The Toreros ended their season with a 26-6 record.