Beginning with pancakes and ending with fireworks, the former College of Notre Dame of Maryland will celebrate its new official status as a university Sept. 9 and is inviting the public to join some of the festivities.

The newly renamed Notre Dame of Maryland University is also rushing to finish construction of a new entranceway and driveway on North Charles Street near Blythewood Road, in time for the celebration.

"They might even be working until midnight the 8th to get the gate done," said school spokeswoman Nancy Carr, citing delays due to Hurricane Irene Aug. 27-28 and an earthquake Aug. 23.

But it will be worth it, said Carr, who started work for the university last year on the day that university officials announced that they would become a university.


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'It feels remarkable," Carr said.

And she said it is a perfect way for retiring Notre Dame President Mary Pat Seuerkamp to end her career at the university in 2012.

"When she retires next year, she's definitely going to have a tremendous sense of satisfaction," Carr said.

The university designation comes at a time when the Women's College, the core, four-year liberal arts program at Notre Dame, has risen to 2004 levels, and the new schools of pharmacy and nursing are doing well in terms of enrollment, Carr said.

Overall, the college is fighting the recession just as other institutions of higher education are, Carr said.

"We're not immune from the economy," she said, but added, "We still believe in the fundamental value of women's college and we're not getting away from that."

Planned events include two that are open to the public. One public event is a picnic, "BYOP," on the athletic fields and lawn in the late afternooon and evening. The university will provide iced tea, lemonade and snow cones, as well as live music and games.The other public event is fireworks over Theresa Hall and Gibbons Tower at 8:30 p.m.

The rest of the day's events are for the university community, Carr said. Those events include:

• a Tower of Pancakes breakfast on the Noyes House lawn outside Gibbons Hall.

• a University Day Mass in LeClerc Auditorium to celebrate the opening of the 2011-2012 academic year with students, graduates, faculty and staff.

• a dedication ceremony for the new university on the steps of Gibbons Hall.

• a luncheon on the Noyes House lawn.

• Another breakfast the next morning, Sept. 10, on Fourier Hall's lawn, to welcome Weekend College students.